After making the MLS Playoffs in their first season of existence, the San Jose Clash struggled over their next two seasons in 1997 and 1998. With MLS All-Stars like Ronald Cerritos, Mauricio Wright and Eddie Lewis on the roster for 1999, it was expected that San Jose would be back in the postseason in Brian Quinn's second full season as head coach.
But things did not go as expected for San Jose, and following a September 11 loss in Dallas, San Jose's record was a respectable 15-12, but because 10 of those wins were by shootout, the Clash only had 25 points in the standings.
With San Jose failing to perform, it was head coach Brian Quinn who took the fall, as Lothar Osiander replaced him on September 16. The second coach in Quakes history, Quinn left with a 35-41 record, and was immediately replaced by assistant Jorge Espinoza on an interim basis. Espinoza was tabbed to guide the team while Osiander finished his previous job of leading the MLS Project-40 Team in the A-League.
So it was Espinoza who was technically the third head coach in San Jose history, guiding the team to a 6-1 victory over Miami in his first game and a 2-1 win against the MetroStars before Osiander took over for the final three games of the season. The coaching changes seemed to inject the club with new life, as San Jose finished the season 2-1 under Osiander, losing to Colorado in a shootout.
It was a natural for Osiander to take over in San Jose, as the former U.S. National Team coach was a long-time Bay Area resident with an impressive soccer resume. The Mission High School (San Francisco) was the coach of the Los Angeles Galaxy in the inaugural season, leading them to the 1996 MLS Cup Final. He also served as head coach of the U.S. National Team from 1986-1988 and coach of the U.S. Olympic Team in 1992.
Osiander really learned the game locally, coaching the Palo Alto Firebirds, San Francisco Blackhawks and California Surf in addition to guiding the San Francisco Greek-Americans to the U.S. Open Cup Championship in 1994.
However, Osiander's previous success did not translate in MLS with San Jose. After showing some promise at the end of 1999, the newly re-named Earthquakes struggled again in 2000 under Osiander in the first year that ties were used in Major League Soccer.
The Quakes gave up the first "golden goal" in MLS history in the first game, losing to Columbus, and ended up losing 16 more times, as Osiander and the Earthquakes would compile a 7-17-8 record and 29 points in 2000. The team failed to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
Following the disappointing season, Osiander was replaced in February 2001 by Frank Yallop, ending the shortest coaching tenure in San Jose history with a 9-18-8 record and .371 winning percentage.