Utah Soccer General Manager Steve Pastorino announced Wednesday that former U.S. Men's U-17 National Team Coach John Ellinger will join Utah Soccer as the first head coach in the history of the organization.
"I am excited for the opportunity to build this organization's competitive side from scratch," said Ellinger. "Working with Dave Checketts, Dean Howes, Steve Pastorino and the entire Utah soccer community represents a new world with limitless possibilities. I look forward to following in the Chicago Fire's 1998 expansion footsteps, winning the MLS Cup / U.S. Open Cup double in our first season - that's our goal."
Ellinger, 53, joins Major League Soccer's newest expansion team as a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Soccer National Coaching Staff. During his tenure with U.S. Soccer, he served at the helm of the Under-17 Men's National Team for seven years and added duties as U.S. Soccer's Director of Youth Development in 2001. Previously guiding the National 'B' Team and serving as Region I (East) Under-14 National Coordinator, he also brings experience as a former assistant coach of MLS' Columbus Crew in the League's inaugural season in 1996.
"The addition of John Ellinger to the organization is definitely a coup for Utah Soccer and MLS," said Pastorino. "His experience as U.S. Soccer's Director of Youth Development brings invaluable knowledge of the top young players in the United States, CONCACAF and around the world. Those who have played for John profess a great deal of respect and appreciation for him, and to a man they want to play for him again."
Ellinger, a native of Laurel, Maryland, is among the most successful coaches of the U.S Men's National Teams program history. He led his squad to a fourth place finish in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championships, boasting the best finish at an U-17 World Championship in the 21-year history of the U.S. program. The loss to Ghana in the consolation game ended a 15-month, 25-match unbeaten streak, the longest in the history of any U.S. Soccer Men's National Team program.
Additionally, while molding the U.S. U-17's in the 1990's, his teams claimed the best mark of all U.S. programs with a .723 winning percentage and 30-8-9 record over that 10-year period. While along side Head Coach Clive Charles, Ellinger helped guide the U.S. Under-23s to a berth in the Olympic semifinals for the first time in U.S. Soccer history, as well as capture the Bronze medal at the Pan Am Games in 1999.
Ellinger began his coaching career as head coach at Montgomery College (MD) in 1979, leading his squad to a No. 5 ranking in 1980, before moving on to a nine-year stint at University of Maryland-Baltimore County from 1981 to 1990. He earned his bachelor's degree (1973) and master's degree (1974) in health and physical education from Frostburg State College in Maryland. He and his wife, Tami, have three children: daughters Leigh and Brooke, and son Matt.
Utah Soccer Founder David W. Checketts, Pastorino and Head Coach Ellinger will be available for interviews and photo opportunities at Saturday's announcement of the team's name and logo identity at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus. The "select-a-seat" portion of the open house kicks off at 11:00 a.m. MT, with the formal program beginning at Olympic Cauldron Park at 1:00 p.m. MT.
Major League Soccer, in its ninth season, is America's only Division I men's outdoor professional soccer league. Two expansion clubs, Salt Lake and CD Chivas USA, join the League for play in 2005, while the ten teams competing for MLS Cup 2004 are: the Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, Dallas Burn, D.C. United, Kansas City Wizards, Los Angeles Galaxy, MetroStars, New England Revolution and the Defending Champion San Jose Earthquakes. For more information about MLS, log on to the League's official Web site at www.MLSnet.com.