Saying he needs to spend more time with his family, Eric Wynalda will no longer manage the Silverbacks. He will remain as technical director, a job he can do from afar.
His last game on the sidelines will be against Edmonton on Saturday. Jason Smith, who managed the Silverbacks from 2005-08 and took them to the USL finals in 2007, will take over and report to Wynalda.
“I just couldn’t be here as much as I wanted,” Wynalda said. “We had to do what we thought was best for the guys.”
Wynalda’s decision comes slightly seven months after he was elevated to the job after serving as the team’s technical director since 2012.
The team didn’t get good results under Wynalda during the NASL’s spring season, going 3-1-5. However, it did advance to the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, losing to Chicago 3-1 last week.
Wynalda brought solid credentials to his job as manager. He was inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004 after making 106 appearances and scoring 34 goals for the national team.
He took over as manager with a plan to use technology to help him monitor the team from afar so that he could also honor his contract as a studio analyst with Fox Sports.
However, his job with Fox changed to him becoming an in-game commentator for matches across Europe. Four-hour commutes to Atlanta from Los Angeles became 14-hour commutes from Europe. As a result, he wasn’t able to spend as much time with his family in his native California, or with the Silverbacks.
Wynalda, team president Andy Smith and the co-owners were going to meet in June to discuss his future, but kept postponing because the team kept advancing in the U.S. Open Cup.
“It was an incredibly difficult decision,” Wynalda said. “The opportunity this club gave me to be a coach means a lot to me. But circumstances started to pile up and made it virtually impossible to be in two places at same time.”
His contract with Fox is through 2018 and his responsibilities likely will grow because the network has all or a portion of the broadcast rights to numerous soccer events and leagues, including the next two World Cups, the next two women’s World Cups, Champions League, Germany’s Bundesliga and MLS, among others.
Wynalda’s decision isn’t the only change. Ricardo Montoya, who ran the team in Wynalda’s absences, was let go earlier this week. Wynalda cited a lack of results.
“We appreciate the commitment that Eric has given to the Silverbacks and look forward to working with Jason and Eric in the future,” Smith said.
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