Wynalda out as Silverbacks coach; stays as Technical Director

IMAGE, DAVE MARTINEZ, EMPIRE OF SOCCER

The grand experiment has failed.

Despite his intent to juggle three roles, Eric Wynalda had to drop one; his position as head coach of the Atlanta Silverbacks.

Citing family reasons, the former U.S. Men’s National Team striker tells the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the move was a difficult decision.

“I just couldn’t be here as much as I wanted,” Wynalda, who took on the job all of seven months ago, said. “We had to do what we thought was best for the guys.”

While no longer the head coach, Wynalda will keep on in his role as team Technical Director.

“It was an incredibly difficult decision,” he said. “The opportunity this club gave me to be a coach means a lot to me. But circumstances started to pile up and made it virtually impossible to be in two places at the same time.”

The Fox Soccer analyst was hoping to take a corporate approach to coaching, managing the team as an executive from a distance, leaving instruction via teleconference to his field staff. That hands-off approach earned Atlanta an unsightly 3-5-1 record, with a -8 goal differential; good for eighth in the ten-team NASL.

The idea, of course, was to live up to his aspirations as a head coach and technical director while keeping his lucrative contract with Fox. An expansion of his role as the lead color analyst in major broadcasts made it even more difficult for him to competently fulfill all three roles.

While family surely had much to do with his decision, pay is another major factor. Fox reportedly offers Wynalda hundreds of thousands of dollars for his work as an analyst; far surpassing potential salary opportunities as a coach in either the NASL or MLS.

For his part, Team President Andy Smith said he “appreciates” Wynalda’s effort and looked forward to working with him in the months to come. One NASL source claimed it was the “best move for both Eric and the organization.

“Eric is a talent guy,” our source tells us. “He has an uncanny eye for talent, but is clearly torn.”

There is no clear replacement for Wynalda at the head coaching position. Ricardo Montoya, his representative at training when he was not available to guide Atlanta, was let go by the team last week.

As of Thursday evening, the Atlanta Silverbacks had yet to comment officially on the report.


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