Orlando City’s coaching staff just got bigger and more experienced. Today, the club announced the addition of Mark Watson as assistant coach.
Watson joins Ian Fuller and goalkeeping Marcos Machado on Adrian Heath’s staff, bringing some much-needed MLS experience with him. He was head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes from June 7, 2013 to Oct. 15, 2014, posting a record of 17 wins, 20 losses and 14 draws in his time with the Quakes. He spent five seasons with San Jose in all, starting as an assistant in 2010 and becoming interim head coach when the club let Frank Yallop go in 2013.
“As we continue to build our squad heading into our MLS debut, we are thrilled to add a coach of Mark’s caliber and experience to our staff,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath in the club’s press release. “Mark’s expertise complements our existing technical staff and we look forward to his contributions as we continue to build and prepare the team for our MLS debut.”
Watson previously held coaching positions with the Canadian national team at various levels, including at the U-20 and senior level. He served as a national team assistant coach during the 2004 and 2008 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualification tournaments. He also served as an assistant with the Charleston Battery for four seasons (2006-09).
Replacing Yallop in 2013, Watson inherited a 3-6-6 San Jose squad and led them to a mark of 11-5-3 over the final 19 games of the season, earning the best points-per-game average in the league over that span. Only a goals tiebreaker kept the Quakes out of the playoffs.
“It’s a great opportunity to join Orlando City at such an important time,” said Watson. “I’m looking forward to working together with Coach Heath and the excellent staff he has in place to help the team launch a highly competitive 2015 campaign.”
San Jose had a disappointing MLS season in 2014, narrowly avoiding the league’s worst record, which fell to Montreal. But Earthquakes President Dave Kaval spoke highly of Watson even after his firing.
“I want to thank Mark Watson for five years of great service to the San Jose earthquakes organization,” said Earthquakes president Dave Kaval. “It was a pleasure working with him. He is such a professional and hard-working individual and I wish him best in all his future endeavors.”
During his playing career, Watson was an accomplished defender in his 18 years of professional soccer. He played three years in the English Championship with Watford FC, before joining the MLS during its inaugural season in 1996, playing for both the New England Revolution and Columbus Crew, which coincidentally just met yesterday in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
He also played for the Seattle Sounders and DC United, as well as in England with Oxford United and Oldham Athletic.
A successful Canadian international, Watson earned 78 caps with his national team, and was a member of the 2000 Gold Cup-winning side. He earned Canadian Player of the Year honors in 1997.
[Feature image courtesy of Orlando City SC]