Chris Leitch (left) talks to Nolan Sheldon of D.C. United during the MLS combine in Carson, Calif. in January. (Andy Mead/YJC Photo)
Former MetroStars and Red Bulls defender Chris Leitch has been named head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes.
He replaced Dominic Kinnear, who was fired Sunday, only hours after the Major League Soccer side recorded a 2-1 home win over Real Salt Lake Saturday night.
Leitch moved from his role as technical director to the bench.
The Quakes (6-6-5, 23 points) are in fifth place in the Western Conference, but have sputtered offensively with only 18 goals in 17 games.
“It has been an honor to work with Dominic for the past two and a half years,” Leitch said in a statement. “I am grateful to have an opportunity to coach at this club. I am looking forward to getting onto the field and working with this great group of players and staff. Our immediate goal is to make the playoffs this year and we can definitely accomplish that if we all work hard together.”
The 38-year-old Leitch has held several positions with the Quakes since retiring following a 10-year playing career after the 2011 season. He started as the club’s academy director in 2012 and was promoted to technical director in 2015, served as interim general between John Doyle’s sacking and the hiring of current GM Jesse Fioranelli before returning to his technical director post earlier this year.
“Chris is the ideal person to take the role for the Earthquakes at this time,” Fioranelli said in a statement. “He has a history with the club and has very good knowledge of our entire development pipeline from the youth teams, through PDL and USL up to the first team. He combines that with a shared vision for the club’s identity that we have been developing for the past months.
Leitch played with the MetroStars from 2002-05. After a year with the Columbus Crew, he returned to New York and played with the Red Bulls from 2007-08.