Frisco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Dominic Kinnear begins his second stint with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday when the club travels to Toyota Stadium to take on FC Dallas.
Kinnear's first stint at the club included a pair of MLS Cup titles as an assistant coach while he guided the 'Quakes to the Supporters' Shield in 2005 before leaving with the team for Houston.
But after a successful nine-year spell with the Dynamo that included back-to- back MLS Cup titles, Kinnear returns to San Jose with a big task on his hands.
The Earthquakes endured a 15-match winless streak last season on their way to a last-place finish in the Western Conference, and Kinnear wasted little time in putting his stamp on the team by allowing longtime 'Quakes players Jon Busch, Sam Cronin and Jason Hernandez to leave during a busy offseason.
To help offset the lose of those players, Kinnear seemed intent on upgrading the speed of his team with defender Marvell Wynne as well as midfielders Leandro Barrera and Sanna Nyassi joining the club.
However, the biggest addition was Swiss forward Innocent Emeghara, who signed as a Designated Player to help free up space for leading scorer Chris Wondolowski.
The 25-year-old Emeghara is hoping to parlay a successful stint in MLS into a return to the Swiss national team fold, and his partnership with Wondolowski, who scored 14 goals in MLS last season, will be vital in San Jose's success.
Kinnear would do extremely well to emulate the success of Oscar Pareja at FC Dallas in his first campaign, which saw the former Colorado boss guide FCD to a fourth-place finish in the West and a spot in the playoffs.
Pareja certainly set the bar high for his second season, but he has plenty of reason for optimism with a talented core of young players including Matt Hedges, Mauro Diaz, Tesho Akindele and Fabian Castillo, who each made important contributions last season with all under the age of 25.
The boss added speedy Colombian winger Michael Barrios in the offseason to give his attack a bit more pace on the flanks, while veteran goalkeeper Dan Kennedy joins the club from disbanded Chivas USA to replace the duo of Raul Fernandez and Chris Seitz.
Kennedy should bring some more stability to the position, while Seitz will stay on board to serve as a back up.
Add veterans Michel and Blas Perez to the mix and Pareja has a talented group of players who are certainly capable of returning to the postseason in a tough Western Conference.