There are, I think, two ways of looking at Mikael Stahre's brief, unhappy and unsuccessful tenure as head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes that ended on Monday.


Way No. 1: There are head coaches throughout this league, and throughout the history of this league, who've gotten more with less. Nobody should mistake the Quakes for a big-budget team, but nobody should mistake them for a small-budget team, either.


Their total salary outlay is in the bottom third of the league according to the MLS Players Association. Salary, however, is just one part of a total team budget, and when you factor in transfer fees (San Jose spent significantly on Vako, Danny Hoesen and Magnus Eriksson over the past 1.5 years), academy outlay and USL investment, you're starting get a picture of a mid-budget club. This isn't Atlanta United or Seattle, of course, but Stahre had players from virtually every conceivable acquisition mechanism at his disposal.


And he got very little out of them. The Quakes collected .71 PPG in Stahre's 28 games. In the entire history of MLS that is the second-worst PPG of any coach who had the reins of a team for 20 games, ahead of only Hans Westerhof – who managed Chivas USA in their expansion season.


It's also significantly worse than the 1.36 ppg Chris Leitch guided the Quakes to during the second half of the 2017 season. And his teams were significantly less fun to watch than Leitch's (Leitch's teams couldn't defend worth a damn but they at least tried to be fun with the ball).


San Jose were catastrophically dire and direly catastrophic for basically Stahre's entire tenure. And there was no end in sight, as 1) he was almost completely reluctant to use young players, and 2) the young players who did play under his watch didn't improve.


What's the point of having an academy and USL set-up if the first team coach can't make use of it?


Way No. 2: It would have been tough for any coach to succeed with the roster Quakes GM Jesse Fioranelli put together. He had two transfer windows this year, and two transfer windows last year to bolster the team's fullback depth. His three signings were Joel Qwiberg, a veteran of the Swedish second tier who's looked out of his depth in MLS and significantly below average in his USL minutes, SuperDraft pick Paul Marie and Kevin Partida, who suffered a major knee injury after an underwhelming 290 minutes this season. Stahre has had to play veteran, journeyman winger Shea Salinas – who has no left foot – at left back for most of the year.


Yeferson Quintana was supposed to be a game-changer in central defense, but he was a back-up in Uruguay and has not, at any point, looked up to the job of playing regular minutes at the MLS level. Vako and Eriksson joined Jahmir Hyka as a trio of skillful midfielders who all lack one big thing (Vako can't pass, Eriksson can't run, Hyka can't defend) that makes it baaaasically impossible to play even two of them together without losing overall structural integrity in the side.


Hoesen, a talented yet wildly inconsistent center forward, has played like a talented but wildly inconsistent center forward: He had 10 goals in his first 16 games, and now has 1 in his last 12. Anybody who looked at his history in Europe could've seen this coming.


There's no real chance creator in midfield, as no Quakes ranks in the top 25 in terms of chances created from open play per 90 minutes. Until the recent emergence of Luis Felipe, there was no real ball-winner in midfield. The failure of so many center back imports has meant that Florian Jungwirth has bounced between center back and fullback and defensive midfield. About the only players on the roster who make sense in terms of where they are and what they do are Chris Wondolowski and Nick Lima.


Stahre was a problem in San Jose, but Quakes fans are out there desperately trying to make the point that he wasn't the problem, and I largely agree with them. This is not a well-constructed team.


It's now Steve Ralston's job – he will be the fourth head coach (interim or otherwise) in the last 1.5 years under Fioranelli – to try to figure out how to get this group playing something in the realm of respectable soccer despite that. And whoever next has the head coaching job on a full-time basis will have roster triage as a major component of their mandate.