The general manager of the Salt Lake City expansion club, Steve Pastorino, on Friday responded to speculation that U.S. under-17 men's national team coach John Ellinger will be hired as the team's first coach, confirming that the team has negotiated with Ellinger but emphasizing that no deal has yet been struck.
"We're having some very productive discussions with John, but by no means have we reached an agreement," Pastorino said.
Ellinger's name has been floated in reports recently in connection with the Utah club, with some saying the deal is all but done. There have also been reports the U.S. Soccer Federation is demanding compensation from MLS for both Ellinger and former U.S. under-20 men's national team coach Thomas Rongen, who became the first head coach of expansion Club Deportivo Chivas USA on Thursday.
While Pastorino stressed that negotiations between the club and Ellinger have not been completed, he offered praise for the man who led the U-17s to fifth place in the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship and has developed a reputation for having a keen eye for youth development.
"It's quite apparent that John has a number of really strong qualities," Pastorino said.
As for the introduction of the first head coach in Salt Lake City's MLS history, regardless of whether it's Ellinger or another candidate, Pastorino said he is "optimistic" that the club will announce its final decision in the near future.
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.