San Jose Earthquakes' Chris Wondolowski: Frank Yallop's departure is the last thing we expected

Frank Yallop, San Jose Earthquakes

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SAN JOSE, Calif. – San Jose Earthquakes star Chris Wondolowski had a one-word reaction to the news that Frank Yallop was no longer his club’s coach:

“Speechless.”

Quakes players had speculated about the topic of their 2 pm Friday afternoon meeting. The idea of Yallop, just one win shy of 100 regular-season victories with San Jose, being replaced on an interim basis by longtime assistant Mark Watson did not appear on the list of possibilities.

“No one saw it coming,” Wondolowski said. “That was literally the last thing we [expected].”

But it came. Yallop delivered the news himself to the team, although the decision had been reached earlier in the week during discussions between him, Quakes president David Kaval and general manager John Doyle.

Kaval insisted to reporters that the decision was by mutual agreement, yet offered up precious little in the way of concrete reasons why Yallop – the Quakes’ only coach since the team’s resurrection in 2008 – had gone from reigning MLS Coach of the Year to unemployed in just six months’ time.

Kaval did assert that the team’s current 1-5-5 slide in MLS play and Yallop’s tactical decisions bore little or no part in the decision-making process.

“It really came out of a very open dialogue from all the parties,” Kaval told MLSsoccer.com. “It was almost like a lightbulb went off for everybody, and we thought this course of action, parting ways, made the most sense.”

Yallop could not be reached directly by MLSsoccer.com to confirm that explanation, which may strain the credulity of outside observers who have watched the Quakes fall flat in recent weeks, even after getting back several key players who began the year nursing injuries. San Jose have been outscored 10-1 over their last five matches in all competitions, including a disappointing 1-0 defeat last week to third-tier Charleston Battery in US Open Cup play.

Wondolowski likely gave inadvertent voice to most fans’ reactions when he told reporters, “[It would be] hard to fire a coach that wins every game – or, not fire, just mutually part ways.”

Wondolowski, who served as the spokesman for the Quakes’ players, described himself as being “devastated” and “gutted” at Yallop’s departure.

“For me personally, Frank has done so much,” Wondolowski said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without him. He brought me here, had faith in me. I know for players too, they loved him. He didn’t lose the locker room, that’s for sure.”

For Watson, the ascension to his first MLS head coaching job came with a bittersweet tinge. Watson played alongside Yallop on the Canadian national team for much of the 1990s, then served as Yallop’s assistant with the Canadian side from 2004-06. Watson rejoined Yallop in San Jose in 2010.

“Mixed feelings, to be honest,” Watson said of his reaction to the news. “I’ve worked with Frank for a long time. He’s a great friend of mine. So it was very difficult on that side, because it was sad to see him go. But once the decision was made, my focus was purely on what I need to do to get this team going in the right direction and get some wins.”