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San Jose Earthquakes fire head coach Mikael Stahre

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The worst team in Major League Soccer has made a coaching change.

Sitting bottom of the Western Conference with just 20 points through 28 matches, the San Jose Earthquakes parted ways with Mikael Stahre, who was just hired last November. Assistant coach Steve Ralston will serve as interim manager until the team makes a decision on who to hire permanently. Fellow assistant coach Alex de Crook was also relieved of his duties.

“I would like to thank Mikael and Alex for their hard work and professionalism this season,” said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli in an official release on the team website. “Mikael has qualities, both as a person and a coach, that will be missed by players, staff and the front office alike.”

With just six matches remaining in the MLS regular season, the Earthquakes own the worst record in the league by four points and sit a whopping 24 points back of the final playoff spot. They went nearly a full three months between wins, defeating Minnesota United on May 12 and failing to earn another victory until inexplicably beating 2nd place FC Dallas on the road on August 4.

“We felt we needed a change and decided that the six remaining games represent an opportunity for all of us to begin heading in a new direction and to evaluate our options actively with a single goal in mind: to strengthen our First Team for the upcoming season and beyond,” Fioranelli said.

The news comes on the heels of a 5-1 demolition at home at the hands of Sporting KC over the weekend. San Jose was down 3-0 at halftime, and put just five of its 17 shots on target.

The 43-year-old Swede becomes the third Quakes head coach fired in the last 15 months, following Chris Leitch and Dominic Kinnear, the latter of whom was fired last June 25. New interim boss Steve Ralston now finds himself with his first career head coaching job, although he is no stranger to MLS. The 44-year-old made 378 career MLS appearances before retiring in 2010, and at the time of his departure held the MLS records for assists, appearances, starts, and minutes played, although most of those have been since surpassed.

San Jose’s Kashia honored with inaugural UEFA award

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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The first winner of FIFA’s #EqualGame award is currently plying his trade in Major League Soccer.

Georgian captain Guram Kashia is now with San Jose Earthquakes, but was the focus of anti-LGBT ire last season while leading Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem.

[ MORE: Pogba’s agent dares Man Utd to sell Pogba ]

Kashia wore a rainbow-colored captain’s arm band for Vitesse in support of the LGBT community, and was met with a violent response.

According to the BBC:

Anti-LGBT protestors in his homeland reacted with riots, smoke bombs and flares. A rainbow flag was burned outside the headquarters of the Georgian Football Federation, while the defender faced threats and abuse, with calls made for him to be dropped from the national team.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin celebrated Kashia for preaching “tolerance and acceptance, and help(ing to) change perceptions of this minority group in his native country of Georgia.”

Kashia will be honored by the Quakes before their Aug. 29 game against FC Dallas.

Report: USL side Cincinnati acquires Adi, Alashe from MLS clubs

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Taylor Twellman is reporting that FC Cincinnati is loading up for the end of their final USL season while preparing for life in Major League Soccer.

FCC has a six-point lead atop the USL Eastern Conference table, and is coming off a 3-2 loss to La Liga’s Espanyol which included a 1-0 lead and 2-2 equalizer in the corner of the hosts from Ohio.

[ MORE: Mitrovic in, Rondon out at NUFC ]

Twellman says the club is set to acquire Portland striker Fanendo Adi and San Jose midfielder Fatai Alashe for the stretch run of the USL season and beyond.

Jamie Goldberg reported that Saturday night was Adi’s last match as a Timber, and the 27-year-old Nigerian striker has 60 goals in 144 career appearances for Portland.

Alashe had a falling out with San Jose coach Mikael Stahre, whose club is bottom of the West, and the 24-year-old Michigan native is moving a lot closer to home.

Capped thrice by the United States at the U-23 level — he’s also eligible to represent Nigeria — Alashe has five goals and two assists in 87 MLS matches.

What will come the way of San Jose and Portland in return? Probably little in the case of the latter, as the move will open up significant salary for the Timbers. San Jose on the other hand may be getting money or future considerations.

Anyone willing to bet against FCC in the USL Playoffs?

 

San Jose signs Miazga’s running mate Kashia to fix defense

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Led by Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvili, San Jose’s attack has been halfway decent this MLS season.

The Quakes are hoping his Vako’s national team captain can help fix what ails the other end of the pitch.

[ MORE: Lopetegui speaks at Real unveiling ]

San Jose has used Targeted Allocation Money to sign Georgia national team and Vitesse captain Guram Kashia, who turns 31 on July 4.

Kashia was the second-best ranked center back in the attack-heavy Eredivisie this season according to WhoScored, combining with American CB Matt Miazga to steady the fifth-stingiest back line in the Netherlands.

The Georgian captain has been capped 65 times with two goals, playing every minute of the nation’s unsuccessful World Cup qualifying bid.

Kashia said goodbye on the Vitesse site:

“I have had very special years at the club. For me, Vitesse and Arnhem really feel like home. I love the club, the environment and the people. … It has been a difficult decision to say goodbye. Together with my family I have discussed that now perhaps the last chance is to go on an adventure. Vitesse is and stays in my heart.”

MLS roundup: Another winner for Zlatan; Quintero’s debut goal

Photo credit: Minnesota United / @MNUFC
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A roundup of, plus a few quick thoughts about, all of Saturday’s action from around MLS…

[ MORE: Other MLS Things — The Archive ]

Chicago Fire 0-1 LA Galaxy

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played all of 127 minutes since arriving in LA, and he’s got three goals to his name, including the winner at Toyota Park, but more importantly the Galaxy have won six points from the big Swede’s first three games in MLS. Saturday’s 1-0 win away to Chicago was anything but pretty — blame the freezing, windy conditions if you require a scapegoat — but it’s a step forward for last year’s last-place finishers nonetheless.

The Ibrahimovic-Ola Kamara partnership is, predictably, a work in progress, not at all unlike the Perry Kitchen-Jonathan dos Santos duo in central midfield. Alas, there’s more than enough talent (on paper) for LA to finish top-three or -four in a weak Western Conference (they’re up to second, now three points behind Sporting Kansas City), and they’ve arguably the biggest difference maker in league history to lean on down the stretch.

Portland Timbers 3-2 Minnesota United

Here are two statements that are undeniably true: the Timbers are a very talented team that can’t keep a clean sheet to save their lives (just seven since the start of the 2017 season — 40 regular-season games) and are almost as bad at closing out games with a late lead; Minnesota have some fun attacking pieces, including debutant and goalscorer Darwin Quintero, but they’re still a trainwreck defensively, individually. Thus, we should have known Saturday’s clash at Providence Park would be a thoroughly wild, nonsensical affair, because it was all on display on Saturday.

For the third straight game, Portland went ahead early on and (almost, this time) proceeded to cough up their lead and drop points. Fortunately for Gio Savarese, who got his first MLS win on the night, Minnesota couldn’t convert any one of a number of quality chances to get back to 2-2 early in the second half, and the hosts bagged a third almost completely against the run of play. Well done to Bill Poni Tuiloma, though, for an unbelievable finish on this own goal.

New York Red Bulls 3-1 Montreal Impact

If their was any doubt about the Red Bulls’ trophy-chasing credentials following last week’s CONCACAF Champions League defeat to Chivas de Guadalajara, Jesse Marsch’s men put them to bed on Saturday. Bradley Wright-Phillips opened the scoring after five minutes, but Montreal drew level through Jeisson Vargas not long after the half-hour mark. Alejandro “Kaku” Romero put the home side ahead again, in emphatic fashion, just before the hour mark.

Elsewhere in MLS

San Jose Earthquakes 2-2 Houston Dynamo
Colorado Rapids 2-0 Toronto FC(‘s Reserves)
D.C. United 1-0 Columbus Crew SC
New England Revolution 0-1 FC Dallas