Official: San Jose Earthquakes appoint Mikael Stahre as new head coach

Mikael Stahre

The San Jose Earthquakes have found their coach for 2018, as they announced Friday that they had appointed Mikael Stahre as their new head coach.

The appointment was originally reported by ESPNFC's Jeff Carlisle and Soccer by Ives' Joel Soria early on Thursday morning. Chris Leitch and Alex Covelo, who served as head coach and assistant coach from Dominic Kinnear's firing on June 25 through the end of the 2017 season, will return to their roles as technical director and director of methodology, respectively.

“After a thorough evaluation process, we are excited that Mikael will be joining our club,” said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli in a team statement. “What stood out with Mikael are not only the cups his teams won and his consistency over the past 10+ seasons, but also his ability to identify with our players, our coaching staff and most importantly our goals.”

Stahre, 42, is a native of Sweden and brings 11 years of managerial experience to the Quakes' bench. He has managed some of Sweden's most famous clubs, including AIK and IFK Goteborg, and has also had stints coaching in China and Greece. In 2017 he coached BK Hacken in the Swedish top-flight, leading them to 14-6-10 record and a fourth-place finish in the league.

“I am very proud to be the new head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes and for the opportunity to work with Jesse Fioranelli and the other members of the organization,” said Stahre. “I'm going to give everything I have to the Quakes and I am very excited about being a part of the future of the club.”

After his first head coaching job at Vasby United, Stahre took over at AIK in 2008, leading them to a league and cup double in 2009 before departing to manage Panionios in Greece in 2010. His spell there would last just six months, however, and he returned to Sweden to coach Goteborg ahead of the 2012 Allsvenskan season. He would win another Swedish Cup at Goteborg in 2013 before leaving after the 2014 campaign to coach Dalian Yifeng in China. He led the recently-relegated club to a third-place finish in the Chinese second division, narrowly missing out on a return to the top flight. He finished his spell in China with a 26-13-9 record before returning to Sweden to coach Hacken.

In addition to his spells as a head coach, Stahre boasts an additional 11 years in youth coaching, with Hammarby and AIK from 1994-2005. He led the AIK Under-19 team to a national title in 2004.

The 38-year-old Leitch, a former MLS player and academy director for the Quakes, added head coaching duties to his technical director title when the club fired Kinnear following a 6-6-5 start. San Jose went 7-8-2 under Leitch, advancing to the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, where they fell 5-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Western Conference Knockout Round.

Stahre's hiring is the seventh coaching change of 2017, including Leitch taking over for Kinnear. Two more MLS teams, the Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbers, are still in the process of searching for a new head coach.

Stahre, who will name his coaching staff at a later date, is the second Swede to ever manage an MLS club after Hans Backe led the New York Red Bulls to a 41-26-31 record between 2010 and 2012.