New changes are in store for soccer team Atlanta Silverbacks this year. As of December 2014, MLS coach Gary Smith will be taking over as head coach of the Atlanta Silverbacks in their upcoming season. Previous coach Eric Wynalda ran the team as technical director, but was unable to commute to league games. The Silverbacks were then taken over by the NASL after struggling both on and off the field in 2014. Andy Smith, Silverbacks president and general manager speaks highly of Gary, saying “Gary is the caliber of leader our players and fans deserve.”
Gary Smith, now 46, was working as a scout for Arsenal a few years back, a Premier league team in England. While scouting, he decided to join the Colorado Rapids to launch the Arsenal youth academy at the Rapids’ facility in 2008. He took over as their coach midway through their season. In their second full season, Colorado defeated FC Dallas in overtime, which led to the club’s first major trophy.
In addition to Gary Smith, his friend Steve Guppy, an English international, two-time League Cup winner, will join the team as assistant coach.
“I am very excited about joining the Silverbacks and also the prospect of working again with Gary Smith,” Guppy said. “I am looking forward to continuing our unique coaching methods that proved so successful at the Colorado Rapids. It is my hope that I can help Gary make the Silverbacks challenge for honors.”
With Guppy, experience isn’t even a question. Guppy offers 19 years of professional soccer experience, including teams like Celtic, the Premier League’s Newcastle United and Leicester City and MLS’s D.C. United. He also served as an assistant under Gary Smith with the Colorado Rapids, helping lead them to victory. In his three years with the Rapids, the team finished 34-27-33, and earned qualification to the CONCACAF Champions League and MLS playoffs.
In the time that Guppy and Smith were split, Guppy worked with current Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill; first at Sunderland AFC and then with Ireland. In addition to working with the Silverbacks, Guppy will still remain chief scout with Ireland and assistant coach to O’Neill and the Irish senior national team.
Smith says he is more than pleased to be working with Guppy again.
“His presence will inspire the players and staff alike and is yet another extremely positive step toward the new season,” Smith said. “I feel very fortunate to be able to say that my close friend and work colleague of more than 15 years, will join me as assistant head coach at the Silverbacks.”
The Silverbacks will open the NASL Spring Season on April 4 against the Indy Eleven at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. Until then, check back with Ticket Alternative to make your 2015 season ticket deposit! We wish the Silverbacks a successful spring season with their new coaches.