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Report: Earthquakes eye former Sunderland exec as GM narrows to 5 finalists

The San Jose Earthquakes are down to the final stages of their long-running search for a new general manager, and the shortlist includes a figure well-known in English Premier League circles, according to a new ESPN FC report.

Former Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton is among a shortlist of five finalists for the Quakes job, veteran soccer scribe Jeff Carlisle reported on Saturday, along with two candidates from Latin America as well as the man currently occupying the post on an interim basis, former San Jose defender and academy boss Chris Leitch.

Global search firm Nolan Partners is leading the process by which the Quakes will select the permanent successor to longtime GM John Doyle, who left the club in August, and Carlisle says the firm will present the first round of their findings to San Jose leadership on Wednesday. It's hoped that the new GM will be named by the end of the calendar year, but the process could run into early January.

Professing an analytics-savvy approach to roster-building, Congerton served as Sunderland AFC's sporting director from March 2014 to December 2015, earning mixed reviews along the way as the Black Cats struggled to escape the Premiership basement.

He was central to the transaction that saw Toronto FC and Sunderland swap strikers Jermain Defoe and Jozy Altidore, and was placed on gardening leave when Sam Allardyce was named SAFC manager a year ago. Congerton previously served in various scouting and coaching roles at Chelsea FC, Liverpool and Bundesliga club Hamburg.

The Earthquakes moved into their glittering new home, Avaya Stadium, last year but have qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs just twice in the eight seasons since their return to MLS after a two-year hiatus following the original franchise's move to Houston. They finished in ninth place in the Western Conference with an 8-12-14 record this year, missing out on a place in the postseason by eight points.