NASHVILLE (March 6, 2019) – Nashville Soccer Club announced that current head coach Gary Smith has been named the franchise’s first Major League Soccer head coach and will transition with the club to MLS in 2020. Smith has previous MLS experience as the head coach of the Colorado Rapids where he won an MLS Cup title in 2010.
“Selecting the right coach is one of the most important tasks at any club,” said Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre. “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.”
Ayre’s last coaching appointment in soccer was the recruitment of manager Jurgen Klopp to Liverpool Football Club of the English Premier League in 2015.
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.”
Smith, from Harlow, England, began his career as a professional soccer player, making appearances for Fulham FC, Colchester United FC and Wycombe Wanderers FC, amongst others. His first head coaching opportunity came in Colorado with the Rapids to begin the 2009 MLS season. After narrowly missing the playoffs in 2009, Smith led the Rapids to the MLS Cup title in 2010, becoming the first, and only, English coach to win the MLS Cup.
“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.”
Prior to his time in Colorado, Smith was on staff for numerous English clubs, including Arsenal FC and Watford FC, and followed his time with the Rapids as the head coach of Stevenage FC of English League One and Atlanta Silverbacks FC of the North American Soccer League. Smith’s extensive experience across various levels and leagues will be important as Nashville SC assembles a multinational roster.
Smith has been in Nashville since April of 2017 when he was hired to coach Nashville SC at the USL Championship level. He led NSC to a successful debut season in 2018 as the club advanced to the USL Cup Playoffs and was one of three non-MLS teams to advance to the round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup. In MLS, Smith will continue to work alongside GM Mike Jacobs as the pair continue to build Nashville SC’s MLS squad.
Nashville SC will begin its final season in the USL Championship on March 9th at home when it takes on Loudoun United FC at First Tennessee Park. Tickets to the game are still available at NashvilleSC.com/tickets.