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Matias Almeyda named new San Jose Earthquakes head coach

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The last place San Jose Earthquakes have a new direction for the future.

With Mikael Stahre sent packing less than a month ago, San Jose announced the hire of former Chivas Guadalajara head coach Matias Almeyda. The 44-year-old Argentinian won the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League with Chivas, qualifying for the 2018 Club World Cup, but departed after clashes with the front office regarding offseason player recruitment and the planning of the preseason schedule.

However, Almeyda left his mark on Chivas. Joining in 2015, the club was nearing relegation. He won the Copa MX in his first year in charge, and won the Supercopa MX in 2016. He won the Copa MX yet again in 2017, and then earned the league title with a 4-3 aggregate score over Tigres, giving Chivas its second-ever double, the first club to achieve that multiple times.

San Jose hopes that Almeyda can replicate that success he had at Chivas with the Earthquakes.

“What we saw in Matias was a coach that brought success by creating a culture we strive to emulate,” Earthquakes GM Jesse Fioranelli said in a statement. “He has demonstrated leadership qualities in Argentina with River Plate and Banfield, as well as in Mexico with Chivas. He has always had a winning mentality, both as a player and a coach, and most importantly, he is someone that knows how to redirect a team in a difficult situation with a commitment to a distinct style of play and youth development.

“Matias came here because he welcomes the challenge of helping our organization open a new chapter after a grueling season. He had several other opportunities available to him from clubs and national teams around the world, but made it very clear the Earthquakes were the one he wanted to lead.”

During the height of his playing days, Almeyda played for River Plate, Lazio, Sevilla, and Inter Milan. He made 35 appearances for the Argentinian national team and featured in two World Cup squads.

VAR drama, superb goals as Atlanta stun San Jose

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First in the East against last in the West sugessted that Atlanta United’s trip to the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday would be a routine win for Gerardo Martino’s team.

Ah, yeah. Not at all.

San Jose raced into a 3-1 lead and then VAR took a goal away from them and gave a penalty kick to Atlanta in the space of a few seconds and that is when the game turned on its head for San Jose’s interim head coach Steve Ralston.

Courtesy of a header from Nick Lima and stunning goals from Danny Hoesen and Vako, plus a beauty from ATL’s Hector Villalba, San Jose led 3-1 in the 69th minute and then came the pivotal moment.

San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski finished clinically to make it 4-1, but VAR chalked the goal off as a handball in the penalty box from Magnus Eriksson was picked up at the other end in a previous attack to Wondo’s goal. Eriksson clearly moved his arm towards the ball and it came off his shoulder, blocking a cross towards Atlanta’s attackers.

That gave Josef Martinez the chance to score from the penalty spot, which he did, to make it 3-2, then Miguel Almiron made it 3-3 and Martinez struck in stoppage time (his 30th goal of the season) to make it 4-3.

Check out the highlights below as Atlanta kept ahead in the race to win the Supporters’ Shield and the Eastern Conference.

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

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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?