Nashville SC has landed an MLS Cup-winning head coach in Gary Smith, who will take the helm of the professional club as it prepares for its inaugural season in the United Soccer League in 2018.
“It’s not every day that a club has the opportunity to land a coach with Gary’s talent, pedigree and experience,” said Nashville SC CEO Court Jeske. “He can take the reins more than a year before our first professional match and shape the roster and culture of this team.”
Smith, 48, is best known for winning the MLS Cup with the Colorado Rapids in 2010, when his team defeated FC Dallas 2–1 in the final. This championship gives Smith the distinction of being one of only five English coaches to win a top-flight trophy outside of England.
“I have been involved in soccer all of my life, and this is a wonderful opportunity to build both the soccer culture and technical foundation of a club,” Smith said. “The fans and support throughout the city will be an integral element in our drive for success. To see how the team has been embraced is very exciting.”
Smith, a native of Harlow, England, began his young playing career at Arsenal before joining Fulham’s academy and eventually signing as a professional. His career was cut short by injury; but his greatest playing time came with Wycombe Wanderers, where he made 66 appearances over 1990–92.
Smith’s coaching career in England included stints at Wimbledon, Wycombe and Watford before he joined the Rapids as academy director for Arsenal FC as part of a worldwide development program for the Premier League Club. He then led the Rapids MLS team for three seasons before moving to Stevenage in England’s League One, where he served as head coach for two seasons, qualifying for the League One playoffs in his first season.
Smith recently served as coach of the Atlanta Silverbacks during their 2015 North American Soccer League campaign.
Smith, his wife, Emma, and their three children moved recently to the Nashville area and have been settling in nicely in Music City.
“My family and I have been sold on Nashville since the moment we arrived, and we’re happy to be putting down roots in the community,” Smith said.