SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes today announced the assistants on head coach Matias Almeyda’s staff for the 2019 MLS season. Omar Zarif and Benjamin Galindo will serve as assistant coaches, Carlos Roa joins as a goalkeeper coach, Guido Bonini will oversee strength and conditioning, and Fabio Alvarez will take over as the team’s kinesiologist. Almeyda, Zarif, Roa, Bonini and Alvarez all worked together at Chivas, where they recently led the Mexican side to the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League title in April.
“We are adding a technical staff that has worked together for several years,” said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. “They have engrained processes and a way of including players and existing staff members in an inclusive and engaging way. We’re also excited for Matias’ staff to bridge the first team and youth sector.
“We would like to thank both Steve Ralston and Greg Tella for their countless contributions to the Earthquakes organization over the years. They always displayed professionalism and leadership within our locker room, while serving as excellent ambassadors for the club. We wish them and their families the best of luck moving forward.”
Zarif, 40, will serve as an assistant coach. A native of Buenos Aires, Zarif enjoyed a long playing career in his native Argentina, including stints at Sportivo Dock Sud (1998-02), El Porvenir (2002-03), Los Andes (2003-04), Defensa y Justicia (2004-05), Nueva Chicago (2005-07), Huracan (2007-08), Rosario Central (2008-09, 2010-12) and Banfield (2012-15). The winger played under Almeyda at Banfield, helping the club earn promotion to Argentina’s top league following the 2013-14 season. Midway through Banfield’s 2015 season, he switched from playing to coaching and remained on Almeyda’s staff following a move to Chivas later in the year.
Galindo, 57, joins the Quakes as an assistant coach. Nicknamed El Maestro, Galindo has experienced success as a player and manager over the past four decades. He scored roughly 200 goals in a playing career that featured more than 700 appearances for various clubs in Mexico, including Tampico, Chivas, Santos Laguna, Cruz Azul and Pachuca. He helped his club teams win four Mexican Primera División championships and led Cruz Azul to the 1997 CONCACAF Champions Cup title. Internationally, he scored 28 goals in 65 games for the Mexican National Team, making two appearances at the 1994 FIFA World Cup. He also competed in Copa America in 1993 and 1995, leading Mexico to the final against Argentina in 1993.
Upon retiring in 2002, Galindo became an assistant coach for Chivas, later being elevated to head coach in July of 2004. In addition to two separate stints at the helm for Chivas, he also served as head coach for Santos Laguna, Cruz Azul and Atlas, helping Santos Laguna win the Clausura 2012 league title and earning recognition as the tournament’s best manager. He most recently served as an assistant coach with Santos Laguna from 2016-17.
Roa, 49, comes to San Jose as a goalkeeper coach. A decorated player, Roa competed for clubs in his native Argentina and Spain, including Racing Club (1988-93), Lanus (1994-97) and Mallorca (1997-02), among others. He also made 16 appearances for the Argentina National Team and was the nation’s first-choice keeper at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, where he played alongside Almeyda. Roa led Argentina to three consecutive shutout victories in the Group Stage, before making the decisive penalty save in their Round of 16 matchup against England. He began his coaching career in Argentina with Brown de Adrogue, Club Sportivo Ben Hur and River Plate B, before joining Chivas in 2015.
Jyri Nieminen, who was the Quakes’ goalkeeper coach in 2018, will work in tandem with Roa on player development. The two coaches will oversee goalkeeping with the club’s first team, USL affiliate Reno 1868 FC and youth academy.
Bonini, 32, is the club’s new head of strength and conditioning. Bonini has worked with Almeyda for many years, serving in the same capacity at River Plate and Banfield before moving to Chivas. His father, Luis Maria Bonini, was a well-known physical trainer that worked closely with current Leeds United and former Argentina National Team manager Marcelo Bielsa for more than two decades.
Alvarez, 50, is a kinesiologist that most recently served as head of the medical team at Chivas under Almeyda, beginning in 2017. Prior to his role in Mexico, the Argentine held similar positions at San Telmo, Ferro Carril Oeste, River Plate and the Paraguay National Team, where he worked with such players as Atlanta United FC’s Miguel Almiron. He’s also held a part-time role in the Sport Medical Center for adidas, helping rehabilitate the brand’s athletes in tennis, hockey and soccer.
“I have a lot of belief in our work,” said Almeyda. “Incorporating our jobs with the people that are already here, I believe we can make a good team for the players that they can trust and feel comfortable with. I want them to know that they can make mistakes, but with each mistake there is a lesson.
“I’m very happy because I won’t go anywhere without them. I would never go to a new team alone or with just one or two of them. This is not my job alone. My job will always be with them.”