SAN JOSE — There were still two games to play in what has been a long season for the San Jose Earthquakes, but Jesse Fioranelli had a secret too big to keep.
The Earthquakes general manager was able to convince Matias Almeyda — the Argentine who played in two World Cups and served as manager of River Plate and 2018 Concacaf Champions League winner Chivas de Guadalajara — to spurn other offers from across the globe and join a Quakes side wrapping up their worst season in club history.
The 44-year-old Almeyda was introduced Monday as the Earthquakes new head coach beginning in 2019. While Steve Ralston will remain in charge for the final two matches of this season, the announcement of the first Latino coach in club history marks a sizable shift into a new era at Avaya Stadium.
“It certainly has added value that we had already wanted to take into consideration,” Fioranelli said. “MLS is very rich in Latin American players and we feel like that can be part of our future, as well. By having a coach that comes from Latin America, that certainly facilitates a lot of things.”
With Almeyda coming on board, many expect to see a much different tactical approach from the Earthquakes next year.
“We will work on the style in the preseason,” Almeyda said. “We want every player to run, we want every player to play. We want the players to feel good and feel strong about what they are doing on the field, and we want that to give energy to the fans and to excite the fans about how we’re playing.”
A different style likely means that Earthquakes' faithful can expect to see a lot of new faces on the pitch to begin the 2019 season, a task that will be handled collaboratively by Fioranelli and his new head coach.
“After the season is over, we will work together to make the necessary changes going into next season,” Almeyda said.
“We will be working very closely on how we can reinforce the team heading into next season,” Fioranelli added. “It will be a partnership that we are looking forward to.”
One thing that is clear with Almeyda is that respect is an integral part of his coaching philosophy.
“I believe in treating everyone the same. We all walk on the same ground and teamwork is what gets you through. From the equipment managers to the executives to the coaches to the players, we’re all equals.”
That vision of respect extends off the field as well and has followed him everywhere he has been.
“Today players are calling me and some staff members in each of the places where I’d been — the groundskeepers, the equipment managers. That’s what life is for me. That’s success.”