SANTA CLARA, Calif. – One MLS coaching career is coming to an end Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium. Another might be just beginning.
FC Dallas’ Schellas Hyndman is scheduled to step down after his club’s season-ending visit to face the San Jose Earthquakes (5:30 pm ET, NBCSN), ending a six-year run for the former collegiate legend. San Jose’s Mark Watson, on the other hand, might have done just enough to earn the full-time job he took over on an interim basis in early June.
Since Watson replaced Frank Yallop, the Quakes have gone 10-5-3, made a spectacular recovery from the depths of the standings to shock observers and almost snatched a playoff spot.
Watson also helped guide the Quakes into the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League – in San Jose’s first CCL appearance – with a 1-0 victory against Guatemalan side CD Heredia on Wednesday.
“We’re going to sit down at the end of the season to discuss that,” Watson told reporters Wednesday regarding his status. “I’ve felt good about the time I’ve been in charge and I think the players have done really well. I’m very fortunate as a coach to work with a great group of players. They give me everything they have, every day. The things I ask of them on game day, they keep doing it time again and again.
“We’ll see what happens.”
Presumably, he’ll see quickly, as there are always hard salary-cap decisions to make after every season. And while that is the province of general manager John Doyle, more informed decisions can be made with a coach on board.
When he announced the coaching change more than four months ago, team president David Kaval likened the remaining schedule to a lengthy interview for Watson. Some of his most veteran players feel he’s earned the position – although they’re quick to point out they aren’t getting a vote.
“I think he’s done a great job,” Chris Wondolowski said. “He definitely has my backing. I think he’s been a great coach. With that being said, I have no idea what the plan is.”
Added goalkeeper Jon Busch: “In my opinion, yeah. The record speaks for itself. But I’m not the person making the decisions.”
In the meantime, the Quakes can add to Watson’s résumé – and, in one sense, to their own regrets – with a win against Dallas. A victory would put San Jose on 51 points, and while it’s almost a certainty that they can’t advance – they would need to score at least 13 goals against Dallas, more than doubling the franchise record – they might wind up tied with Colorado for fifth place.
That would bring games such as the Quakes’ 1-1 tie against Vancouver on April 6 – a contest which San Jose dominated, only to allow a tying goal in an 11-on-9 situation after two players came off the pitch to change their cleats – back into sharp, painful relief.
“Believe me, there’s been a lot of sleep lost over it, especially this last week,” Wondolowski said. “I feel bad for my wife.”