PODCAST: Quakes fire GM John Doyle, President Dave Kaval looks for “fresh approach” to technical side
In this episode, I discuss the club’s most recent big move – firing long time GM John Doyle. I also briefly go over the September international break and the 7 players from the Quakes that were called up for their respective national teams.
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Earthquakes president Dave Kaval spoke to media following the announcement of club parting ways with GM John Doyle.
On why the Quakes decided to make this move:
The acquisition of high priced designated players is a key part of any teams success in MLS. It can really be the difference maker. We need to do a better job in that area. The way the team is playing, it’s not even just the results, but also the style of play has gotten kind of boring. We need a fresh approach so we can have a style of play that’s more interesting for fans to watch.
We still have a chance to make the playoffs. Last week, the performance was not commiserate with the standards that we want as an organization. We kind of squandered an opportunity to move up the table. We felt that this was a chance to send a message to the technical side, and hopefully see some performance increase that could lead the team to the playoffs. In spite of the fact that we haven’t played that well recently, we’re still pretty close to that last playoff spot, which would be a huge accomplishment for the club. The timing was born out of that situation.
On why this decision was made at this time:
We’re looking at this as not just a short term decision. Some of the symptoms we see in terms of the style of play and how we’re playing… Chris Leitch is going to move into an interim role. He’s going to be a candidate for the full time position, and this is an opportunity for him to audition that role.
On a go forward basis, we want someone in that position as general manager who can have a full vision for the technical side of the organization, including the academy, who can really help lead our organization to success long term.
On whether or not this had been brewing for a long time, or if it had been a result of just this year’s performances:
That was a disappointment last year. But last year we got to 13 wins from 6 wins the previous season, so the trajectory was good. This year we didn’t see the corresponding increase in performance. We don’t want to be a team that just trolls along the red line, we want to create a team that is more competitive, more exciting to watch, and we felt that a new approach was necessary for that.
This isn’t the first of many moves. We have a lot of confidence in the coaching staff. Dominic Kinnear, and his track record, as really an exceptional coach in Major League Soccer. We’re committed to those guys and that team, and we think we can go to the playoffs and beyond. It’s more an issue of – this decision at this time can lay some of the groundwork for future success, and the types of investments, and scouting, and team assembly, and strategy, that needs to start now for next year and beyond.
On how big a shot Chris Leitch has to earn the role:
Chris really relaunched our academy, and has had a great track record on youth development, so he’s someone we’ve spent a lot of time with and has a bright future in soccer. Hopefully that will be something that will advance our club and bring success now. He’s spent a lot of time in the organization, has a great track record on the youth side, played for the club, won a national championship at UNC, so he’s experienced at all levels of soccer, and I think this is an exciting opportunity for him.
On what message this sends to the fans:
There’s accountability. Trampling around the red line is not going to be a suitable result for this club. We expect more, and this type of action shows that. Hopefully our fans can continue to support the club through this difficult time as we redouble our efforts to make the playoffs and build on the success we have had in the past.
On what led to playing style being boring and how to change it:
There have been injuries and player availability issues that have driven a little bit of that, but I just think that we need to have a fresh approach on the tactics side. I think that’s something that the head coach works with the general manager – determining the best formation, ways to play, and to maximize the potential of the players. I don’t think we are getting the most out of the players that we have, and the talent we have. We need to make sure we put the braintrust together to basically get more out of what we have. I really don’t think we’re achieving that now, but hopefully with this type of shake up, the players that we currently have can play in a system that gives us better results in the near term too.
On what kind of chance Leitch has to win the full time position, and if he’ll interview other candidates:
He has a great shot at the role long term, but I owe it to ownership and the fans that we examine all the opportunities. You don’t get an opportunity to make a change like this very often. John Doyle has been GM for 9 years. So it’s a really important point in the history of the club, and it can start a new course for us, especially as MLS continues to evolve as an international league.
On whether or not he’ll need to look inside MLS to find someone who can navigate the complex rules of MLS:
I certainly think that’s a consideration when you look at someone from Europe or overseas, because the Byzantine roster rules and requirements are hard to get up to speed on. That is a factor, but at the same token, I think the league is becoming more cosmopolitan and more international, and some of the skill sets – to sign top tier designated players, to identify talent, to work with scouts and agents internationally, some of those things are evergreen and unrelated to the actually mechanism of signing a players. I think you have to look at the entire picture and all the skill sets a candidate would bring to the table before making an intelligible decision.
On the time table for making a decision on the full time GM:
The end of the calendar year.
On whether or not fans can expect the next GM to go out and get a big name player or make a big signing:
Obviously it depends on the philosophy of the general manager, and if we hired a general manager that feels that that is the best way to compete and to win an MLS cup, then that is something that is on the table for consideration from myself and ownership. So absolutely.