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San Jose Earthquakes part ways with Dominic Kinnear

7:44 am AEST 26/6/17
Dominic Kinnear San Jose Earthquakes
The former Houston Dynamo coach's second stint at the helm of the MLS side has ended, with Chris Leitch set to take over

The Dominic Kinnear era has come to an end in San Jose for a second time, with the Earthquakes announcing Sunday they have parted ways with the 49-year-old coach.

Kinnear will be replaced as head coach by Chris Leitch, who was working as the team's technical director.

The Quakes sit in the playoff positions in the Western Conference, with their 6-6-5 record good for fifth place, and the club earned a 2-1 win against Real Salt Lake in a league match Saturday. But San Jose looks to be seeking a new direction with a shift away from Kinnear's hard-nosed playing style.

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"First and foremost, we would like to thank Dominic for his hard work, professionalism and contributions to this club over the years," Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli said in a news release. "He worked hard this year and was a first-class person all the way. This decision was made after a lot of thought and evaluation. We decided that we wanted to go in a different direction as we continue to build the identity of this club."

Fioranelli joined the organization at the start of the year and has started to put his mark on the club, including signing Georgia international Valeri Qazaishvili as a designated player Thursday. 

Kinnear previously coached the Earthquakes in 2004 and 2005 before the franchise moved to Houston to become the Dynamo. The former U.S. international led Houston to MLS Cup titles in 2006 and 2007, while the Earthquakes returned as an MLS expansion side in 2008.

Assistant coach John Spencer also will leave as part of the shake-up, while assistant coach Steve Ralston and goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley will stay on.

"I would like to thank the ownership group for giving me the opportunity to coach the club," Kinnear said. "I want to thank my staff for all their hard work and I wish the players the best of luck going forward."

Leitch, 38, becomes the second-youngest coach in MLS behind the Philadelphia Union's Jim Curtin. The former defender played in MLS from 2002 to 2011, ending his career with three seasons in San Jose.