Dominic Kinnear loves soccer and has for as long as he can remember. Until he took the job as the Earthquakes head coach, he didn't know he would be loving it and thinking about it 24 hours a day.
As an assistant coach to Frank Yallop, Kinnear would do the job - and by everybody's account do it well - but he could leave it on the field. He said he could go home and not think about the game and the team because the pressure is on the head coach to make the tough decisions.
But now, Kinnear says, "I close my eyes and I think of numbers and formations, corner kicks and stats and all the rest of it."
He says thinking about the game all the time is a good thing and a bad thing.
"I care a tremendous amount about the results and how the team is playing," Kinnear said. "But I do have a home life to take care of. I want to make sure I'm on my toes as far as my wife and kids are concerned."
With a very understanding soccer wife, Colleen, and three little Kinnears at home, in addition to the 23 big guys he has to worry about, there isn't a whole lot of free time for this 36-year-old Fremont native. But, he says there is no other place he'd rather be. His former boss, Frank Yallop, who was in town this week with the Canadian national team, says Kinnear is the right man for this job.
"I don't think I could have left if someone else got it," Yallop said. "It's good he's got the job and I'm really happy for him."
Yallop and Kinnear were a very good and very successful coaching team. Their roles were defined, they had great respect for each other and the players always knew where they stood with the both of them. Yallop was the boss, and as the head coach his teams won two MLS Cups in three years.
That makes him a tough act to follow, no matter how familiar Kinnear is with the job and the players.
"I think it was difficult for Dom at first," said forward Landon Donovan. "It's a completely different role for him. He has gotten a lot better really fast. I mean really, really fast."
Donovan says Kinnear has the same philosophy as Yallop, but with his own little spin on it.
"He's finally getting the most out of us and it's only eight, nine weeks into the season," he said.
Said Yallop: "It's never easy starting off the season after you've won the championship. The players know once they get to the playoffs, that's when it really matters. Dominic has got them going now though."
Despite what looks like a mediocre mark of 3-3-3 nearly one-third of the way into the season, Kinnear says he thinks it's going pretty well. He tried to keep the same kind of program as Yallop's.
"I don't think this team needs changes," he said. "I think they need consistency and stability. I think I provide that for them."
Four years after retiring as a player, Kinnear understands how to manage players, which in this year of World Cup qualifying and numerous injuries, is as important as anything a coach can do for his team. X's and O's, training, planning, travel, games - it seems the job never ends.
"It's something you love to do and you can't stop yourself doing it," Yallop says of coaching. "It's a wonderful feeling when you go out there and take care of business and win."
As soon as you win, Yallop adds, you're already thinking about the next game.
"You can't really enjoy it," he says.
One of the big challenges as the coach, says Kinnear, is keeping the team challenged.
"I wouldn't say every day," he said, "Because you can't challenge them every day. But sometimes on Saturdays and other days you need to issue a challenge to them. That's what I'm learning to do. It's part of the on-the-job-training."
It's seems there's plenty of time for the job. About 24 hours a day.
John Shrader has been the voice of the Earthquakes since 1996 and has worked in television and radio in the Bay Area for the past 20 years.