In almost six months on the job, new general manager Jesse Fioranelli had reached out to every stakeholder group of the San Jose Earthquakes. He listened to their comments and complaints. He took their questions and concerns. He digested the information and then set forth on a plan for the organization’s future.
Stating that he believed the team could accomplish more than it had this season, Fioranelli made the decision in recent months that legendary head coach Dominic Kinnear would not have his contract renewed at the end of the campaign — playoffs or not. And so he moved to relieve him, as well as his assistant coach John Spencer, of his duties at the midway point of the season rather than to drag out the process through the summer and into the fall.
Though, Fioranelli said that it did not play a role in the timing of his decision to fire Kinnear, many season ticket holders had been expressing frustration at the team’s progress lately, and less than a week after being informed that most season ticket prices were increasing again for 2018, raised their voices even louder. At Saturday night’s game against Real Salt Lake at Avaya Stadium, despite an announced sell-out of 18,000, the crowd looked as sparse as it ever has since the stadium opened in 2015.
Fioranelli was handed the reins to the Earthquakes organization in January with one mandate: Create a vision for the club that would lead it to consistent success in MLS and relevance in a crowded Bay Area sports market. His decision to part ways with Kinnear is a part of that plan, and he promises that more announcements, both in terms of players and the club, are forthcoming.
A day after firing Kinnear and installing technical director Chris Leitch as the ninth head coach in the club’s MLS era, Fioranelli penned a letter to all season ticket holders explaining the move and describing the path forward for the Earthquakes. The entire letter is presented below:
Dear Season Ticket Holder,
As we head into the second half of the season with a sense of renewed direction, I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to you in a more personal manner.
This year we decided to take several situations head on. We have made several investments to build long-term success for the Earthquakes, and there will be more to come as we progress in line with our long-term vision.
The past weekend we made a tough decision about our head coach and an assistant coach. I admit that heading into it, I knew parting ways with Dominic Kinnear and John Spencer was going to be the most difficult decision of the season. Considering the mark they left, this decision needed to go beyond the mere statistical comparisons to previous seasons. When we came to the conclusion that we were not going to renew their contracts at the end of the year, we decided to avoid leading them on for the remainder of the season. We felt we needed to make the change now.
As to the timing for the decision, I prefer to take the heat after a win rather than after a loss for two reasons. On the one hand, parting ways after a loss would have unjustly passed a judgment that Dominic does not deserve. On the other hand, announcing Chris Leitch and Alex Covelo after a loss could have been interpreted as a reactionary decision. It is not. Chris has been a key part in providing a perspective to our club and most importantly to our most talented players. He is not a bridge. He is an important part of the very foundation of our club. These two reasons were very much ingrained in the decision making process this week.
We have continued to push forward in achieving our vision, as shown through our player signings.
Just like we were ahead of most clubs in the league in signing players in the winter, the same applies to our designated player signing in the summer. By the time Vako is eligible to play, he will have known his new home and colleagues for over two weeks and will be ready to attack. Just like Hyka, Flo, Ureña and Hoesen have impacted our team, so will Vako, I trust. He is the perfect fit joining us at the age of 24 with the best years still ahead of him. Considering that Vako scores like a striker but has a technical repertoire of a gifted No. 10 makes me confident that he will excite at Avaya. It is the result of our efforts redirecting our player scouting, recruiting and development, one player at a time, whether it is aimed at emerging homegrown talent or designated players.
Success cannot be based on the mere outcome of a game, nor on comparisons with the past. Successful teams mature a conviction as to why they win and they do it collectively - FORWARD AS ONE.
Thank you for your trust.