NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks Hire Eric Wynalda as Interim Coach

He has long pined for a head-coaching job in Major League Soccer, and now former U.S. national team leading scorer Eric Wynalda has the next best thing. The Atlanta Silverbacks of the second-division NASL have named Wynalda interim coach and team advisor.

The decision comes just weeks after Wynalda coached amateur side Cal FC to a surprising berth in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, leading the team to wins over the third-division professional side Wilmington Hammerheads and the top-flight Portland Timbers along the way.

“I’m absolutely thrilled for this opportunity with the Silverbacks. It was truly one that I didn’t want to pass up,” said Wynalda, 43, and still second on the USMNT’s alltime goals list with 34. “This is a case of an under-performing team, and I’m honored that the club chose me to take on the challenge of turning things around and helping the Silverbacks fulfill their potential on the field.”

“Eric is very well respected and he’s someone who has tremendous knowledge of the game through his career as a player, coach, and TV broadcaster,” said Silverbacks General Manager Andy Smith. “Through our conversations with him, it’s clear how much he studies the game, and we’re convinced he has the leadership qualities to turn this team around.”

There is one unusual hitch in the deal: even though Wynalda will take the reins of the last-place Silverbacks (1-5-8) immediately, he will not relinquish his role as a broadcaster for FOX Soccer.

Keep an eye on how that plays out as the English Premier League resumes in August and the Silverbacks hit the stretch run of the NASL season.