It’s official: Kinnear is on the hot-seat. If the Quakes fail to make the playoffs, or are a one-and-done playoff team, both Dom Kinnear and John Doyle should and will be shown the door.
In professional sports, there are two types of teams: rebuilding teams and contending teams. With the moves the Quakes made over the past year with Kinnear’s input, the Quakes have officially made the transition from rebuilder to contender. Now it’s time to see if the team can meet expectations.
The Quakes have a solid line-up. Bingham is poised to be a break-out star at ‘keeper while Goodson and Bernardez (both World Cup vets) anchor a defense which threw 12 shut-outs last season, tying a club record. The Quakes have young stars in the making with Fatai, Pelosi, Cato, and Tommy. The Quakes have added several players in their prime such Dawkins, Godoy, and Quincy, all of whom have shown they can thrive in MLS. And the Quakes should have all their Designated Players healthy for the first time since last year. Which brings me to my next point . . .
Perhaps the most important piece to the post-season puzzle–and the employment of Doyle and Kinnear–is Innocent Emeghara. Innocent did not play much last season due to knee surgery, so it’s impossible to tell if he’s a good signing or a bust. This season he must not only play, but play to the level that a seven-figure contract warrants. If he’s a bust or goes on the IR again, it will be the nail in the coffin for Doyle, and possibly Kinnear, who also had a hand in his recruitment.
Furthermore, if the Quakes have another season in which they/we miss the playoffs, it could induce financial disaster for the organization. I’ve heard rumors that season ticket sales are dropping, which is what happens in the Bay Area when the product on the field is mediocre (see: 49ers, Raiders, A’s, Sharks in recent years). A second season at Avaya with no playoffs will certainly have a huge fiscal impact on the team via diminishing ticket sales, something the club can’t afford after paying $150 million for Avaya. Changes would have to be made to invigorate the fanbase, which means Siyonara! to Doyle and Kinnear.
For now, the stage is set: plenty of returning veterans, a young crop of talent, and starters in their prime. This is the year we should not only make the playoffs, but be a serious contender for the MLS Cup. If 2016 is the year the Quakes do not turn it around, Doyle and Kinnear must go. Welcome to the hot-seat, Dom!