Earthquakes sign Mark Watson as club's head coach

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that the club has named Mark Watson as its head coach. Watson inked a multi-year contract following his 11-5-3 finish as the club’s interim head coach in 2013. Per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Watson, 43, had the best points-per-game average in the league after taking over on June 7 at 1.89 ppg. The Earthquakes narrowly missed the MLS Cup Playoffs, tying the Colorado Rapids for the fifth and final spot in the Western Conference, only to fall short due to the league's second tiebreaker. He also led the club to the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals where they will face Toluca (Mexico) next March.

“We’re excited to sign Mark to a multi-year contract after his tremendous finish to the 2013 season,” said Earthquakes president Dave Kaval. “Mark inherited an adverse situation, but he found a way to qualify the club for the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals and nearly rallied us to an MLS Cup Playoff berth. We look forward to having Mark on our sideline as we continue to move toward a new era of Earthquakes soccer.”

Watson helped transform San Jose’s defense, recording eight shutouts during his 19-games as head coach. Five of those shutouts came during the final two months of the season as the Earthquakes finished on a seven-game MLS unbeaten streak while allowing just two goals in the process. Including a pair of CONCACAF Champions League wins, the Earthquakes were 7-0-2 and outscored opponents 11-2 in September and October. Watson’s squad engineered a 430-minute shutout streak over its last five regular season games, the second-longest in club history.

“I'm very excited for the opportunity. We have a great group here and I’m grateful for the chance to be here on a permanent deal,” Watson said. “I think the club is heading in the right direction and look forward to building on the success we had at the end of this season.”

The Earthquakes were 8-0-1 at home under Watson. The team didn’t allow a goal at Buck Shaw Stadium for 546 minutes starting on July 27 when Darlington Nagbe scored in the 83rd minute and ending with Stephen Keel’s 90th-minute header in San Jose’s final game of the season on Oct. 26.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Mark Watson over the last four years,” said Earthquakes general manager John Doyle. “He has all the qualities you look for in a head coach. Once he got the opportunity, he made the most of it and impressed us all.”

Prior to becoming the club’s interim head coach in June, Watson served as an assistant coach to Frank Yallop starting in 2010. He helped the Quakes earn a playoff berth in his first year with the club in 2010 and was an integral part of building the 2012 Supporters’ Shield winning team. He began his coaching career in 2004 with the Canadian national team system where he held assistant positions with the U-20 and senior squads. He also spent four seasons as an assistant coach for the Charleston Battery from 2006-09.

Watson spent 18 seasons as a professional player. He made three stops in MLS cities, suiting up for the Columbus Crew and New England Revolution during the league’s inaugural season in 1996 and D.C. United in 2001. He also spent three seasons with Watford FC in the English Championship.

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