SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that Dominic Kinnear will return to the club as head coach at the conclusion of the 2014 MLS regular season. Effective immediately, Mark Watson has been relieved of his duties as the club’s head coach. Current assistant coach Ian Russell will guide the Earthquakes as interim head coach for the final two games of the season.
Kinnear returns to the club where he got his coaching career started as an assistant in 2001. He is one of four coaches in league history to win multiple MLS Cups, leading the Houston Dynamo to titles in 2006 and 2007. The Scotland native is third all-time in MLS history with 139 wins and is one of just six head coaches in league history to win 100 games. His winning ways led the Quakes to their first ever Supporters’ Shield in 2005 during his first stint as the team’s head coach. He also ranks third all-time in MLS Cup Playoff wins with 15 and has reached the post-season in nine of his 11 seasons as a head coach.
Kinnear began his coaching career as an assistant for the Earthquakes in 2001 and helped the club to MLS Cups in 2001 and 2003. Following his successful transition to the sidelines, he was named the club’s sixth head coach in 2004 and led the team to the MLS Cup Playoffs during his first season at the helm. One year later, he engineered one of the best regular seasons in MLS history with an 18-4-10 clip – still the league record for fewest losses in a season. He closed that campaign on a 14-game unbeaten streak, which ranks eighth all-time. For his efforts, Kinnear was named MLS Coach of the Year as San Jose won the Supporters’ Shield.
He remained with the team after its relocation to Houston and immediately continued the winning ways he established in San Jose with MLS Cups championships in 2006 and 2007. He is one of just two head coaches in league history to win back-to-back titles, along with Bruce Arena. Kinnear also led the Dynamo to MLS Cup Finals in 2011 and 2012, conference championship games in 2009 and 2013 and CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals in 2008-09 and 2012-13. He compiled a 112-88-86 record during his nine years with Houston and reached the post-season in seven of those nine years.
Prior to his coaching career, Kinnear spent 12 years as a professional soccer player, including 54 appearances and nine goals for the United States national team. He helped the U.S. win the 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup and also was a part of the U.S. team that competed in the 1993 Copa America. At the club level, he spent three seasons with the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks, where he won an APSL title in 1991. After seasons with the San Jose Hawks in 1993 and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1994, Kinnear signed with Necaxa of the Mexican First Division and was part of their Mexican Cup triumph in 1995. He then signed with the APSL’s Seattle Sounders, where he again was part of a championship team.
Kinnear was part of Major League Soccer’s debut season in 1996, making 14 appearances for the Colorado Rapids. He returned to the Bay Area on Jan. 7, 1997 in an offseason trade that sent Kinnear to what was then the San Jose Clash. He scored two goals and had four assists in 28 games for the Clash that season, and then closed his playing career with three seasons for the Tampa Bay Mutiny from 1998-00. Kinnear served as the Mutiny’s captain in 1999 and led them to the playoffs that season.
A native of Glasgow, Scotland, Kinnear moved to California at age three and grew up in Fremont, Calif.
For the final two matches of the season, Russell will be joined on the sidelines by current goalkeeper coach Jason Batty and current Academy Technical Director Chris Leitch. Assistant coach Nick Dasovic has also been relieved of his duties.
Watson spent five years with the Earthquakes. He began as an assistant coach in 2010, helping the team to a playoff berth in 2010 and the club’s second Supporters’ Shield in 2012. He was named the club’s interim head coach on June 7, 2013 and closed the season with the best record in MLS following his appointment with an 11-5-3 mark. He was named head coach on Oct. 30, 2013.