SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that the club has parted ways with head coach Dominic Kinnear and assistant coach John Spencer. The club has named Chris Leitch head coach and Alex Covelo as assistant coach. Current assistant coach Steve Ralston and goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley will remain in their current roles.
“First and foremost, we would like to thank Dominic for his hard work, professionalism and contributions to this club over the years,” said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. “He worked hard this year and was a first-class person all the way. This decision was made after a lot of thought and evaluation. We decided that we wanted to go in a different direction as we continue to build the identity of this club.”
Kinnear started his second stint as head coach of the Earthquakes in 2015 and led San Jose to a 27-31-27 record in that time. Including his first term as head coach with San Jose in 2004 and 2005, his all-time record with the Quakes is 54-45-48. Kinnear led San Jose to the Supporters’ Shield in 2005 and helped the Quakes launch Avaya Stadium in 2015, improving the club’s point total by 17 in his first year over the previous season.
“I would like to thank the ownership group for giving me the opportunity to coach the club,” said Kinnear. “I want to thank my staff for all their hard work and I wish the players the best of luck going forward.”
Leitch, 38, has held a number of posts with the Quakes since retiring as a player following the 2011 season. He started as the club’s academy director in 2012 and was promoted to technical director for the Quakes in 2015. He also served as interim general manager in 2016, following the departure of John Doyle. He becomes the ninth head coach in Quakes history.
“Chris is the ideal person to take this role for the Earthquakes at this time,” said Fioranelli. “He has a history with the club and has very good knowledge of our entire development pipeline from the youth teams, through PDL and USL up to the first team. He combines that with a shared vision for the club’s identity that we have been developing for the past months. Chris and Alex give us two very good soccer minds with a desire to make this club one of the best in MLS.”
As technical director, Leitch helped build the partnerships with Burlingame Dragons FC of the Premier Development League and Reno 1868 FC of the United Soccer League, which give the Quakes a direct pipeline through all levels of soccer in the U.S. He also helped transform the Quakes Academy into one of the premier youth systems in the nation. In 2015, the Earthquakes U-18 Academy squad took third place in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs. The Dragons have also been a top team in the PDL during their first two seasons, claiming the Southwest Division Championship in 2015. Additionally, Leitch received his Elite Formation Coaching License as part of Major League Soccer’s partnership with the French Football Federation.
“It has been an honor to work with Dominic for the past two and a half years,” said Leitch. “I am grateful to have an opportunity to coach at this club. I am looking forward to getting onto the field and working with this great group of players and staff. Our immediate goal is to make the playoffs this year and we can definitely accomplish that if we all work hard together.”
Before joining the Quakes front office, Leitch played professionally in Major League Soccer from 2002 to 2011. He made a total of 196 appearances during his 10-year career, tallying 14 assists. Leitch helped lead the New York Red Bulls to their first MLS Cup Final appearance in 2008 and later signed with the Earthquakes in 2009, playing in 58 matches with the club over the next three seasons. He was the Earthquakes Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and helped the Quakes reach the conference final in 2010.
Covelo, 38, was named the Quakes director of methodology in April. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education and sport (URL – Barcelona), a master’s degree in high performance team sports (INEFC – Barcelona) and a UEFA A coaching license, which is the second highest of the five UEFA qualifications.
Covelo was most recently a coaching instructor at Ekkono Soccer Services Group based out of Barcelona that leads the technical programs of French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain, and the Football Federations of Japan, Finland and Poland.
He previously served as the head coach of San Marino in the Italian third division from 2014-15, after a stint as an assistant coach and match analyst with the club in 2013-14.
Prior to joining San Marino’s lone professional club, Covelo had a variety of roles in his native Spain. From 2008-12, he worked at one of La Liga’s most prestigious youth academy programs, RCD Espanyol of Barcelona, in capacities such as head of methodology and director of fitness for the U-19s. He also served as the head coach of the U-15 and U-19 squads at CF Badalona in Spain’s third division from 2005-08.
Covelo was a player in the FC Barcelona Academy, competing through the U-19 level alongside legendary midfielder Xavi Hernandez. He later played professionally for several clubs throughout Catalonia.
Transaction: San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) – Earthquakes part ways with head coach Dominic Kinnear and assistant coach John Spencer, name Chris Leitch head coach and Alex Covelo assistant coach.