The struggling San Jose Earthquakes made a move on Tuesday to shake things up.
No, head coach Matias Almeyda wasn't fired. Instead, the Quakes parted ways with general manager Jesse Fioranelli.
San Jose confirmed that technical director Chris Leitch, Almeyda and the rest of the coaching staff will continue in their respective roles.
The Quakes have struggled since Fioranelli was hired to replace John Doyle as general manager in 2017. His background was in player analytics. He worked at Lazio and Roma in Italy and Samsunspor in Turkey before joining the Quakes.
The rebuilding under Fioranelli began quickly with a flurry of foreign signings: Danny Hoesen, Jahmir Hyka, Florian Jungwirth and Marco Urena, all signed using TAM. Later in the year, Valeri Qzazishvili and Magnus Eriksson came as Designated Players. Only Jungwirth (116 starts in four-plus seasons) is still with the Quakes.
Since 2019, the Quakes have signed players with connections to Mexico, where Almeyda coached, without better results. San Jose not had a winning season since 2013 and lost their only two playoff games, in 2017 and 2020, over the last eight seasons. Even after San Jose went 4-21-9 in 2018, Fioranelli kept his job.
San Jose is just one of many MLS clubs that have put someone in their top sporting role without previous MLS experience and have struggled.
Of the top 10 clubs on points the current standings, just one is led on the sporting side by a hire without previous MLS experience when he took his current position. Indeed, the Philadelphia Union has thrived since the hiring of German Ernst Tanner, who has doubled down on the Union's player development efforts but also shown a knack for finding players in Europe's lower divisions (Jamiro Monteiro, Kai Wagner, Kacper Przybylko and most recently Leon Flach).
On the other hand, five of the bottom 10 teams have been led by chief soccer officers new to MLS when they took their positions: Chicago (George Heitz), Vancouver (Axel Schuster), FC Dallas (Andre Zanotta), FC Cincinnati (Gerard Nijkamp) and San Jose (Fioranelli).
The technical staffs of two other MLS clubs are currently led by chief soccer officers new to MLS when they took their positions: New York Red Bulls (Kevin Thelwell) and CF Montreal (Olivier Renard).
The current rankings of these eight clubs: 6, 13, 17, 20, 21, 22, 24 and 27 out of 27 clubs.
Photo: Jesse Fioranelli, Sergio Rivas and Matias Almeyda at 2019 SuperDraft. Credit: Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire.