San Jose Earthquakes name Chris Leitch general manager, remove interim tag

The San Jose Earthquakes have named Chris Leitch as their next general manager, the club announced Monday. Leitch had been interim GM since July.

Leitch has been with the organization since 2009, spending his last few years as a player, before transitioning to coaching and being named technical director in 2015. After the club parted ways with Jesse Fioranelli in July, Leitch led their soccer operations.

Chris Leitch coached San Jose for 17 games in 2017

“I couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity,” said Leitch in a club release. “This club has been my family since 2009 and I’m passionate about the project we have underway. While the 2021 season didn’t end how we wanted, we’re entering an important offseason to rebuild and put a competitive team on the field for our fans to support.”

Leitch was given full autonomy as interim GM, negotiating a blockbuster trade to acquire forward Jeremy Ebobisse from the Portland Timbers for $1.167 million General Allocation Money. The club also traded defender Florian Jungwirth to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

“I’m thrilled to continue working with Chris in his new role,” said Earthquakes chief operating officer Jared Shawlee. “Our objective was to find a candidate with significant MLS knowledge, a track record of player development, and thoughtful use of data to make informed decisions. In addition to checking every box, Chris has been a proven leader for our club in a variety of roles over the past 13 years.”

The Quakes slotted 10th in the Western Conference standings this year, finishing seven points below the playoff line.

Leitch will face a number of big decisions immediately this winter. The club will soon announce their end-of-season contract decisions, while the future of head coach Matias Almeyda looms. Almeyda has just one year left on his contract.

San Jose also must decide what's next for Designated Player Eduardo "Chofis" Lopez, who is on loan from Liga MX's Chivas. They have the option to extend the loan another six months, trigger a purchase clause or allow him to return to Mexico. Quakes legend and MLS' all-time leading scorer Chris Wondolowski announced his retirement on Decision Day.

The Quakes' first team roster is headlined by Cristian Espinoza, Cade Cowell, Jackson Yueill, Ebobisse, Tommy Thompson and more.