Sources: Philadelphia Union to hire Zambrano as team’s first ever Sporting Director

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

by DAVE MARTINEZ

Few people know the trajectory, history and intricacies of Major League Soccer quite like Octavio Zambrano.

Now it looks like the Philadelphia Union may rely on that resume and experience to help right their flailing franchise.

According to well placed sources, the Union will bring Zambrano aboard to serve as the team’s first ever Sporting Director. Since the Union’s inception, the club’s part-owner Nick Sakiewicz has played the biggest role in player acquisition and retention. They hired a consultant in Rene Muelensteen last year to bridge those duties. Zambrano will take over Muelensteen’s role with the club. Technical Director Chris Albright, however, will remain in his current position.

Zambrano last held a job as the coach and technical director of Ecuadorian side El Nacional – a role he relinquished July of this year. He is an original MLS 96er who began his North American career as an assistant coach under Lothar Osiander with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He went on to manage the Galaxy before heading onto the Metrostars from 1997-99. Statistically, he is one of the winningest coaches in MLS history, accruing a .587 regular season winning record which ranks second to Bruce Arena’s .604.

In 2009, he returned to the league as an assistant coach with the re-branded Sporting KC, staying with the club through 2011 under head coach Peter Vermes. In between his time with MLS, Zambrano served a three-year term as elected Vice-President of FENODE (Ecuadorian/American Sports Federation) and coached within his native Ecuador shortly there after.

The Union have been in a state of tumult for most of their existence. Jim Curtin is the team’s third coach in four years. Inaugural boss Piotr Nowak left the team in 2012 and went on to sue the club over his dismissal. John Hackworth was unceremoniously sacked at the end of last season. Overall, the team has only made the playoffs once in their six year existence, marred by roster mismanagement and questionable signings, particularly at the DP level.

Zambrano will be tasked to stabilize operations and improve roster management.

The Union currently sit seven points from dead last in the Eastern Conference. However, the season has not been a total bust. It is worth noting that the team will face Sporting KC in the U.S. Open Cup final.

EoS reached out to the Union who issued no comment on the report.

  • Smith

    The best dressed coached in Metro history.

    We went to a math in the Copa Mercanorte cerca 2000-2001 & he was wearing a three piece suit in 101 degree. We happened to be sitting with some relatives of Rodrigo Faria & they could noty stop talking about it.

    MLS just got a whole lot better dressed.

  • Willy Z

    Good article. Zambrano should be a good fit assuming Sakiewicz does not meddle in his business. Slight correction – Hackworth was fired in June 2014 not the end of the season.

  • bottlcaps

    Also played indoor soccer in the MISL and CISL. Played for Jerry Buss’s LA Lazers and Was a teammate of the Brazilian Zuzinho there , who is the father of current LA Galaxy DP Gio Dos Santos.

  • Ulrich

    Classy coach with a ton of pedigree. Dare I say he’ll be in position to take over coaching duties if down the road they let Curtin go….

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