Eric Wynalda will bring new approach to Silverbacks

Eric Wynalda plans to bring a new approach to managing the Silverbacks, one that means the team won’t have a head coach.

Wynalda, who was introduced as the team’s new manager Tuesday, will instead sometimes lead the team remotely and sometimes manage the team from Atlanta in a mix of a bit of a European approach with a bit of a Silicon Valley philosophy.

“My experiences on this job and also taking all my experiences (into account) have culminated into something that we want to put into action,” said Wynalda, who was inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004 after making 106 appearances and scoring 34 goals for the national team.

Wynalda has been the Silverbacks’ technical director since he was hired by co-owner Boris Jerkunica in the summer of 2012. Wynalda also manages Cal FC, an amateur team that he led to the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2012.

He will replace Brian Haynes, who was let go in December. Terms of Wynalda’s contract weren’t released. He said that a tweet that he would coach for only nine games was inaccurate.

Wynalda managed the Silverbacks for only a few games in 2012, going 3-1-3. This will be the first time he has managed a professional team, but he’s confident in his system, asking a questioner several times what he thought.

“I’ve had 28 coaches in my career, which is way too many,” Wynalda said. “You see people do it wrong, see people do it right. You try to take all the good out of what you’ve learned and apply it to the process.”

Here’s how it will work, borrowing from parts of Wynalda’s professional career as a player in Germany, the U.S. and a short stint in Mexico:

On a typical week, the team will be off most of Sunday and all of Monday because Wynalda wants the players to “have a life.” On Tuesday, the players in the morning will work on fitness specific to their positions, followed by either weight-training during the preseason or something functional during the season. One of three assistants will supervise those workouts. Wynalda won’t be there.

Wednesday’s practice session will be a simulation of Saturday’s coming game. The session will be filmed and sent to Wynalda to review.

Wynalda will then catch a red-eye flight from his home in California or wherever he may be for Fox Sports 1, where he also works as an analyst, to supervise the tactical and technical practices Thursday and Friday. Wynalda will then manage Saturday’s games.

“On a weekly basis, I will probably be in Atlanta more than I will be in Los Angeles,” he said.

The practices will be focused because Wynalda believes players should know exactly what they are supposed to do and what’s expected of them.

That focus is one of the reasons that Wynalda and Jerkunica believe the Silverbacks won the NASL’s spring season last year, totaling 21 points in 12 games. The team began to stray from that approach in the fall, and the Silverbacks accumulated only 16 points in 14 games. They lost to New York 1-0 in the NASL championship game.

Jerkunica said he likes the approach because it reduces one layer of management. He said if it works, it may be a new model for other franchises to follow.

“Eric’s system and the way he thinks the team should be run is what’s most important to us,” general manager Andy Smith said.

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