Nashville are set to join in MLS in 2020 and now they have selected the man that will lead them.
On Wednesday, Nashville SC announced that current head coach Gary Smith will be the coach when they join MLS in 2020.
This marks the second stint in MLS for Smith, who coached the Colorado Rapids to the 2010 MLS Cup championship in a tenure that ran from 2008-11. Despite winning the Rapids’ only league title to date and accruing a winning record over the course of his tenure, he departed the club in contentious circumstances around disagreements over decision-making on player acquisitions.
“Selecting the right coach is one of the most important tasks at any club,” said Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre in a statement. “As we set out to build our MLS team and Mike (Jacobs) and I conducted our search throughout the game for a head coach, we always kept coming back to Gary as the first and best candidate for the job.”
The Englishman went on to manage Stevenage in his native country before returning stateside to coach NASL side Atlanta Silverbacks from 2014-16, then joined Nashville ahead of their inaugural USL campaign last year.
Ayre continued, “We need someone who understands the nuances of the U.S. game, someone that has experience of working with domestic and international players, someone with a history of developing young talent, someone who believed in our vision for the club and most importantly someone who is a winner. Gary fits that bill perfectly. Alongside those key attributes, the value of the continuity of having Gary already at Nashville SC and working with our team for the 2019 USL season make for a fantastic outcome.”
Nashville racked up a 12W-9L-13D regular-season record in 2018 and qualified for the USL Cup Playoffs, where they fell to regular-season champs FC Cincinnati in a draw decided by a penalty-kick shootout in the quarterfinal round.
“I am grateful to John Ingram, Ian Ayre, and the rest of our ownership for their faith in me to lead this club on the field as we join Major League Soccer,” said Smith. “I look forward to continuing to work with Mike Jacobs as we build our MLS squad for next season. I love the community, the fans and the excitement around soccer in Nashville, and I am delighted that this city will continue to be my home for the coming years.”
The announcement comes on the heels of Nashville SC confirming they will carry the same name and logo, albeit with an updated crest, from the USL to MLS.