St. Louis CITY SC have named Bradley Carnell head coach ahead of their MLS expansion season in 2023, the club announced Wednesday.

Carnell joined the New York Red Bulls in 2017 as an assistant coach and was named their interim head coach in September 2020 after Chris Armas was dismissed and before Gerhard Struber took over.

“We can honestly say that we got our top candidate for the club’s first head coach position, and wanted to get him on board early given the integral role he’ll play in building our first team,” sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel said in a release.

“We knew it was important to have someone who understood the ins and outs of the MLS, as well as the international market, and Bradley has all the attributes we were looking for. His experience as a player and coach set him apart, and I am confident that he will help us to build a very competitive team for our inaugural 2023 season.”

Carnell’s coaching career started as head coach for the University of Johannesburg men’s team, then he took an assistant coaching role at South African top-flight club Orlando Pirates before arriving in MLS.

The 44-year-old enjoyed a lengthy playing career, featuring 42 times for his native South Africa. He also competed for German Bundesliga clubs VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Monchengladbach, among others.

“I am grateful to be a part of the St. Louis CITY family, a team where I can help build something special in a city that is already so passionate about soccer,” said Carnell. “Lutz’s vision matches my ambitions of building a competitive team through the heavy use of data, technology and a keen focus on individual player development.

“I am looking forward to establishing a team that reflects St. Louis – one that’s diverse, hardworking and community-led. I am thrilled to help create the future of the sport in an incredible soccer city.”

Though St. Louis doesn’t join MLS until 2023, they’ll field an MLS NEXT Pro team this coming season. They’re also constructing a downtown stadium that’s slated to hold 22,500 fans.

“Several clubs have shown interest in his talents, so we knew we had to move quickly to bring him to St. Louis,” said president and CEO Carolyn Kindle Betz. “In Bradley we have an innovative, modest and forward-thinking head coach that wants to help revitalize and connect our region through soccer. We are thrilled he chose us.”