Since the end of the 2014 MLS season, the San Jose Earthquakes have endured a busy offseason. Last season, the Earthquakes began with Mark Watson installed at manager after the dismissal of Frank Yallop. The Earthquakes had five selections in the 2014 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, as well as two selections in the Major League Soccer Re-entry Draft.
During the 2014 season, the Earthquakes saw Brandon Barklage and Shaun Francis come in the reentry draft. In the 2014 season, however, this San Jose team were riddled with injuries. This year also saw players like Tommy Thompson make their impact on the senior team. Along with injuries, the 'Quakes were forced to deal with the abscence their captain Chris Wondolowski, who was called up to play with the United States Men’s National Team in the World Cup.
The injuries to the players on the Earthquakes team unfortunately proved to be too much for them to overcome as they finished with a record of 6-13-11, which placed them 9th in the Western Conference. Close to the end of the 2014 season, Watson was relieved of his duties as Head Coach for the San Jose Earthquakes. After Watson was fired, Ian Russell finished the season as the Interim Head Coach. At the seasons conclusion, General Manager John Doyle took time and decided that he wanted to have then-Houston Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear come back and manage the Earthquakes again. Kinnear had a record of 99-76-73 in his years as the Head Coach of the Dynamo.
While deciding who to protect and not to protect in the expansion draft, Kinnear and Doyle named David Bingham, Wondolowski, Matias Perez Garcia, and rookie J.J. Koval to their protected list along with seven other players to their protected list. Among the players who were not included were starting goalkeeper Jon Busch and Cordell Cato. This will leave some competition at the goalkeeping position and the potential for Bingham to finally get his chance as the starter for the Earthquakes.
The 2015 season will also debut a new stadium for the San Jose Earthquakes to play in. During the past three seasons the Earthquakes played at Buck Shaw Stadium while their new permanent home was being built. Their new stadium is going to be sponsored by Avaya, Inc. and will increase the crowd capacity from about 10,000 to close to 18,000.
Kinnear will bring a new energy to Avaya Stadium as he will return to coach some players he coached in 2004-2005 before the Earthquakes moved and became the Dynamo, as well as having new players he has seen play but never coached. Doyle appears to have made an excellent decision bringing Kinnear in to coach and so it will be interesting to see if he and this roster can right the mess of last season and make it back to the postseason.
Also ahead for Kinnear and the 2015 squad are the changes that were made in the conferences to allow for expansion teams Orlando City FC and New York City FC to come into the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer. The 2014 season also saw the disbandment of Chivas USA, so now the Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City have rejoined the Western Conference. The changes that MLS has made to the conferences will create an interesting scenario for Kinnear as he will be facing his former squad three times this season instead of just once. The other big change for the playoffs in Major League Soccer this season are that the top six teams in each conference will now get into the postseason, whereas five teams from each conference got in prior to this.