SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes announced Monday that former defender Chris Leitch has been named Technical Director for the club’s youth development academy.
Leitch will oversee all technical aspects of the Earthquakes Youth Development Academy, including the club’s U-16 and U-18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy squads and U-14 Regional Development Schools. He will work with coaches at each level as the Earthquakes work to establish a fully integrated academy system in Northern California.
“We are proud to hire a person who I respect both professionally and personally,” said Earthquakes General Manager John Doyle. “From the first time I met Chris, I knew he was a consummate professional, somebody who we would love to have work for the club when he was done playing. Chris has a tremendous work ethic and will be a great addition to our staff.”
The veteran defender was selected by the LA Galaxy during the 2011 MLS Re-Entry Draft on Dec. 12, but opted for retirement to take this position.
“I’m very excited about this position because I get to work with a group of promising young players in an area that is known for producing top notch talent,” Leitch said. “I could have continued my playing career, but this job gives me the opportunity to start a new chapter in my life with an organization that I love, and for my family to continue to live in an area that we have come to call home.”
Leitch’s MLS playing career spanned 10 seasons, the last three spent as a member of the Earthquakes’ back line following a trade that sent him to the West Coast from the New York Red Bulls. He made 56 starts among 58 appearances for the Quakes, and earned club honors as Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 after providing a team-leading seven assists. The Ohio native totaled 196 league appearances while splitting his time between the Quakes, Red Bulls and Columbus Crew.
“My hope is to bring my own qualities and experiences as a player into this role,” Leitch said. “I’ve been involved in soccer at the highest level and was fortunate enough to learn from great coaches like Frank Yallop, Sigi Schmid, Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley, and have gained a unique perspective on the game. I truly believe in the youth academy system that MLS and U.S. Soccer have established and I am looking forward to working with the players and coaches in our system.”