NASL Ticker: Wynalda to manage Silverbacks from afar; Szetela signs Cosmos extension; and more

Eric Wynalda

By DAN KARELL

The Atlanta Silverbacks are set to experiment with a new kind of soccer management.

The club announced on Tuesday at a press conference that they are eliminating the head coaching position, allowing technical director Eric Wynalda to manage the team while also remaining as an analyst for Fox Sports 1. Wynalda will manage all of the team’s games and take charge of “key practices,” while a group of assistant coaches deal with the day-to-day training of the players.

“The organization has tremendous belief in Eric Wynalda’s system of play. Heading into the offseason, we asked ourselves how we could get back to following that system,” Silverbacks chairman Boris Jerkunica said in a statement. “We’ve come to the conclusion of re-engineering Eric’s role, and that will include managing the team’s training sessions and games. We believe in Eric’s vision and we consider him to be part of our long-term plans.”

Wynalda served as the team’s interim head coach in 2012 before stepping back to be the Silverbacks’ technical director. The former U.S. Men’s National Team star has publicly stated in the past that he would like to be a full-time head coach in the future.

Here are some more stories from around NASL:

SZETELA SIGNS EXTENSION TO REMAIN WITH COSMOS

Following his first professional season after nearly four years away from soccer, Danny Szetela has pledged his future to the New York Cosmos.

The club announced on Tuesday that Szetela has signed a contract extension to keep him in New York for next season. Per club and league policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. Sources close to the situation told SBI that Szetela’s club option was picked up at the end of last season but the club wanted a contract extension to ward off MLS interest.

“The Cosmos gave me the opportunity to return to the field after a very tough couple of years and I wanted to repay the club’s faith in me,” Szetela said in an official release. “Right now I’m really enjoying my soccer and I’m grateful for the tremendous support the fans and my teammates have shown me. I’m excited to move forward with the Cosmos.”

After coming off the bench in two of the first three games of the season, Szetela stepped into central midfield in place of Joseph Nane and immediately solidified his place in the lineup alongside veteran midfielder Marcos Senna. In all, Szetela played in 13 matches with 11 starts, scoring once.

ROWDIES SIGN SWEDISH MIDFIELDER

The Tampa Bay Rowdies have announced a deal with a former player of current Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter.

The Rowdies signed 27-year-old Swedish midfielder Christophe Lallet to a two-year contract, the second year being a club option. Lallet comes from Swedish club Hammarby, where he played for two seasons in the second division.

“Christophe will be a tremendous addition to the club next season,” said club owner Bill Edwards.  “He has been a fan favorite in Sweden for the past few years and I have no doubt he will become the same in St. Petersburg.”

Last season, Lallet scored six goals in 28 appearances with the club. Prior to joining Hammarby, Lallet spent four years with Degerfors, scoring 24 times in 80 matches.

SCORPIONS PRESIDENT BLASTS COSMOS OVER DENISSEN SIGNING

The New York Cosmos made waves Thursday when it was announced that they had signed NASL Best XI forward Hans Denissen from the San Antonio Scorpions.

Now, Scorpions president Howard Cornfield has gone public with his outrage at the Cosmos spending, claiming that there was no way Denissen could have turned down the contract offer. Though there’s no salary cap in NASL, Cornfield seems to believe that the league owners should all have an understanding to keep spending lower, instead of having one team outspend everyone else.

“It was so ridiculous that I honestly sat with Hans and I said, ‘For the good of your family, how do you say no to this?’” Cornfield told the San Antonio Express News. “The teams in our league have to make a decision whether they’re interested in buying championships or making this a viable league that’s respected throughout the world.

“I’m not going to critique the way these people run their franchises. I don’t like the way some of their decisions affect us. But I also take it as a challenge that we’re going to beat them with our model. They can’t compete with us on our business model.”

It’s the second straight year that the Scorpions have lost their leading goal-scorer. After the 2012 season, Pablo Campos moved to Minnesota United.

———

What do you think of these reports? Like the Silverbacks decision to get rid of the head coaching position? Do you see them winning the spring season? Glad to see Szetela back with the Cosmos?

Share your thoughts below.

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47 Responses to NASL Ticker: Wynalda to manage Silverbacks from afar; Szetela signs Cosmos extension; and more

  1. MMV says:

    Wynalda’s role is certainly fascinating and definitely provides food for thought if it successful. The idea is certainly innovative but I hope for everyone’s sake it works. I think I will keep an eye on this situation. At this point, I’m not for or against it. I will have to see the results before making a full judgment.

  2. Patrick VT NYC says:

    Danny Szetela = USMNT

  3. RBNY says:

    LOL at the Scorpion tears. Either have a salary cap or don’t. There is no in between – and I hate MLS’ salary cap.

    • Stir Crazy says:

      Lol

      Red Bull

      I wanna team in Cali called the Monsters to give you a comparative look on how ridiculous your team is.

      • RBNY says:

        Wouldn’t call us ridiculous. We’re one of the top teams on the continent right now.

        • Stir Crazy says:

          No your not. Most Mexican teams are better then you and LA, KC, Portland and Seattle are all better as of right now

          • RBNY says:

            Uh… Yes we are. Champions League features the top clubs in the continent, no? Seattle is in no way better than us. We beat RSL, and LA LOL! drew Portland. We split the season series with SKC. Where does your logic come from besides your hatred for us?

            We’re clearly one of the top teams in MLS. Don’t hate us, embrace us.

            • Stir Crazy says:

              You were knocked of the first round by the Dynamo, lol

              Regular Season don’t mean s**t. Have your supporters shield cause you never win a US open cup in the nxt three years or an MLS open Cup, tbh.

              • RBNY says:

                You’re just mad because we’ll buy your favorite club, and burn it down lol. All of a sudden a 34 game season doesn’t mean sh*t. Denial much?

              • Stir Crazy says:

                That’s right. Red Bull buys clubs and burns down their legitimacy.

                Denial? What? Lol

                And no, it doesn’t mean s**t when you suck when it matters

                Red Bulls FAIL

        • tony and cupcake says:

          I think Houston beat you down as well. Is Houston better (hint – check the score board).

          • RBNY says:

            I think we proved who the better team was last season. We beat Houston more than enough times. One lucky playoff win makes them better?

            • Stir Crazy says:

              That’s where it means everything. When players are at their sharpest and play their hardest.

              “Where does your logic come from besides your ” wanting to justify your team as a contender and not pretenders

              • RBNY says:

                Thats like saying that Chelsea isn’t sh*t because they got knocked out of the FA cup one year. Dude, we proved over 30+ games that we were better than the teams you mentioned. Houston winning at RBA on a pea roller of a goal from Cummings means squat compared to a whole seasonsworth of sample size. STOP HATING.

              • Stir Crazy says:

                Haha. Well if your superior why didn’t you win?

                Why? Why? Your so dominant, then why?

                CHUMPS

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      The irony is that the general premise of the minor league teams is it’s a free market so grunt wages can be depressed. There is no minimum reserve salary implemented by a CBA. But there are also no top end controls on wages either, probably because (a) minor league realities and economics dictate the salaries to some extent, (b) a player worthy of a high wage is not likely to be in the American minors, but (c) if a Romario comes you assume it’s a short term stunt. So the Cosmos are walking through the loophole.

      The two issues I see are sustainability. Sustainability for Cosmos if it takes decades for MLS to try NYC3. Sustainability for the league if you basically have one team dominate the league and the other fans have to stay interested. I can’t see teams engaging in a bidding war with the Cosmos because they probably don’t have the cash to bother….you have to have better funded teams to create a broader bubble. But you do wonder who will pop first, the willingness to fund the Cosmos at uneconomic salaries until MLS is ready, or the willingness to watch your local team playing for second.

      • RBNY says:

        Exactly, the Cosmos have made it clear that they are coming out with both barrells smoking. They’re willing to grossly overpay 2nd division players to dominate, and in free market its all about $$$$.

        It will be interesting to see how this develops. I’m not sure how much money was thrown at Denissen, but if they keep this up, MLS may start missing out on the lower-mid level players that it was able to underpay and hold on to. Would young talent, skip out on the Generation Addidas deal to play for double to salary with Cosmos?

        • tony and cupcake says:

          If there are no teams left in NASL for Cosmos to play I think it will be a moot point. Maybe they could then move to USL.

      • Sam says:

        I think the model is sustainable so far. We don’t have any info on player salaries, but we can assume that many (of course, excepting Senna) are getting wages on par with the low end of the MLS payscale. If I remember from that graph circulating around on Twitter about MLS player salaries by region of origin (whether they were European, South American, etc.), players from North America tended to have the lowest salaries.

        I think that the NASL, with the Cosmos’ revival and on-field success, is hoping that the owners of other NASL teams will be moved to do more, whether in regards to player acquisition/development (I think the NASL head was talking about forming academies and trying to put together a reserve league in a couple of years), upgraded facilities, or just plain marketing and community-building. What the San Antonio president is doing is pushing back on this impulse, probably hoping to save some money while also trying to save face with one of the team’s popular players leaving. Maybe a poor analogy would be if Arsenal or Liverpool poached a beloved player from a Championship team? Let’s also not forget that he does need to say something, considering his team’s poor performance in the Fall campaign.

        It’s no secret that the NASL doesn’t approve of salary caps. In fact, the NASL has been making that one of its selling points. If San Antonio does believe in caps, though, then they’d probably be better off polishing their MLS bids or dropping to the USL.

  4. Stopher says:

    Hey Dan, Great reporting as always. Does that mean Szetela is now likely on a multi-year deal with the Cosmos? Glad to have him locked up. Fan favorite and perfect partner to Senna.

  5. Stir Crazy says:

    NASL is the so great for American soccer. I wish Richmond, Charleston and Rochester could join the the league.

    • Beto says:

      Maybe San Antonio will switch with them!

      • Stir Crazy says:

        The only thing is that the aformentioned teams don’t have the finances necessary to be in the NASL or other criteria

        • Sam says:

          Which is a shame! I do wish either local rich owners would step in, or something like the Green Bay Packers’ ownership system could be implemented.

          The 3 cities you mention are really intriguing, because if they were in the NASL, we would have the foundation for a really strong East Coast league with potential to expand west. Add in a team in New England and you’ve got the Eastern seaboard covered with Jacksonville joining in, then maybe add a team (or teams) in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland/Cincinnati, or Detroit to link up with Indianapolis, get to St. Louis or Nashville (or, dare I dream, New Orleans) to integrate San Antonio and Oklahoma City, and then springboard further west, building links and rivalries as you go.

          …As you can see, I’m a dreamer (or figure out how to make a fantasy NASL league or something…). But I think the NASL has a lot of potential in it, especially since its rules seem more flexible and because there’s more emphasis on giving communities a team of their own rather than creating a financially stable franchise to profit off of. The split-season even grew on me (though I do think it needs some tweaking) as teams played their all straight out of the pen than slogging through games in the first couple months like a lot of MLS teams do. So I do hope people will give it a chance and that it succeeds.

          • Stir Crazy says:

            Yeah for sure. Well if any more teams are going upward to MLS, their bound for more expansion in the North-East. Right now it seems like their trying to fight for supremacy in the Midwest with USL Pro.

            New Mexico and St. Louis, and Louisiana should be targets for them.

            A shame really about A.C. St. Louis. Hope they can revive that team.

  6. Beto says:

    If Wynalda’s other job and family is in LA (right?) then this will be really impressive if he can guide Atlanta to a good standing!

    • Annelid Gustator says:

      If Wynalda’s other job and family is in LA (right?)

      Who do you think Wyanlda is? John Harkes?

  7. The Imperative Voice says:

    I don’t think what Wynalda is doing is completely unprecedented, some teams have managers that delegate out a lot of hands on training responsibilities and basically do game management while setting out a basic practice curriculum and which players are to train with the first team that day. But literally phoning it in every day is probably unprecedented.

    I think he loses half the equation. Kinnear is an awful game manager but you can tell from their game play that the Dynamo are drilled to the nth degree in practice, and it shows in them making the playoffs most years and getting fairly far each year. I agree with Iverson that practice can be overrated for top end players, but you can tell a team that is disciplined through practice.

    I also think it may be overrating what goes into game management, to just assume he shows up and can manage to wins. Some of game management is an intimate understanding of the value of each individual player as a sub, knowing players’ stamina, etc. I’m not sure you get that parachuting in on weekends.

    I gather Wynalda wants to keep his Fox job and paycheck but if he really wants to coach I wish he’d jumped in headfirst. I don’t think it’s so much that Atlanta wanted to try some new coaching scheme as that they wanted him so bad they were willing to do anything. But they won’t say that, so “unprecedented scheme” it is.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      Atlanta drew <5k per game in 2012, just a guess, but jumping in headfirst would be a bad idea for the pocketbook.

    • the original jb says:

      Yeah there’s no way you can successfully manage players whom you haven’t worked with much personally in practice. I completely agree that Wynalda should pick a job and go with it. Maybe he could be a great manager, but he needs to give it his full attention. Have a feeling this could come back to bite him on both fronts.

      I guess the obvious advantage for Atlanta is they eliminated a position that has to be paid a salary…

  8. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    Hmmm, I keep humming disco tunes in my mind. It seems like a deja vu moment, someone help me out.

    1 The league is named NASL
    2 The Cosmos spend more than everyone while winning all the Soccer Bowls
    3 ?

    What comes next ? Man, it was 30 years ago, seems like just yesterday…..

    • Sam says:

      Disco wasn’t that bad! Some of those tunes were catchy. Like the Hustle! Or the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Or Earth Wind and Fire’s “September.”

      We can only hope that #3 will be that San Antonio and other teams will quit whining about soccer in the US (with other teams spending more money and all) and invest in their sides to make a stronger 2nd division.

      • FGB says:

        “invest in their sides” implies there might actually be a return on the investment. You’re just asking the owners to lose more money. These teams likely make zero profit, and if there’s any it’s razor thin. If they paid an extra $100,000 aggregate in salary, they would not see even close to that returned in increased attendance.

        The Cosmos think they’re going to buy their way to sustained success, like Chelsea or City, but they will find they’re actually like Anzhi, QPR or Malaga. They spend and think they can get a proift return eventually if they become great, but if they come up short of that (i.e. don’t get to MLS), then they’ll realize theyve just pissed away a few million bucks.

    • Matt C says:

      Just coming full circle again. Cosmos and spending were one (there were others) the reasons the old NASL failed.

      MLS learned from that. Say what you want about salary caps and parity, but MLS has been able to sustain itself b/c of that….No ONE team spending the others in failure.

      • Matt C says:

        Just coming full circle again. Cosmos and spending were one (there were others) the reasons the old NASL failed.

        MLS learned from that. Say what you want about salary caps and parity, but MLS has been able to sustain itself b/c of that….No ONE team spending the others into failure.

  9. WSW says:

    Some people don’t understand is a MLS team shares it’s profits with other MLS teams.

    In NASL no team shares it’s profits.

    No league in the world can kick owners out without justification, but even finishing in last place doesn’t offer much incentive for improvement in MLS. Owners in the league share in every team’s revenue, meaning Chivas’ paltry average attendance of well under than 10,000 fans and Seattle Sounders FC’s over-40,000 mark don’t carry as much meaning as they would in other leagues.

  10. g-dub says:

    Wynalda: anybody else remember when he scored the first ever MLS goal? Great moment because I was so happy the first ever game didn’t end 0-0.

    Clearly Wynalda wants the Atlanta-in-MLS head coaching gig, and that might not be a bad choice for ATL.

  11. Andrew says:

    This role for Wynalda sounds like one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard of in sports.

  12. MLSatlanta says:

    Wynalda is dedicated to the cause here in Atlanta. I actually met him tonight at the restaurant that I work at and he was taking goalkeeper Joe Nasco out to dinner to discuss re-signing with the Silverbacks. It was cool seeing him be involved with the team/players first hand even with this new long distance coaching strategy.

  13. El Paso tx says:

    If if if if, and I’m saying if the cosmos get their stadium, they will attract more top talent to their team. I’m not talking about beckhams, but older beckhams. Picture the NASL in 2020, will they have 20 teams and I’m pretty sure cosmos will have a stadium by then, just like other NASL and MLS teams. Cosmos r for real, until MLS opens the DP slots and salary cap, then cosmos will join.

    • White Kix says:

      I don’t want to sound like the old guy in the room (Especially since I can’t remember the old NASL), and soccer has changed a lot in the country over the years, but the first goal should just be to still have an NASL in 2020. The league is only a few years old, and has pressure from both sides (MLS and USL). I think there is just a good a chance that the Cosmos will take down the entire league by then as there is a chance that they will elevate it into some 20 team superleague.