Less than 24 hours after he returns from covering the UEFA Champions League Final in London, Atlanta Silverbacks Technical Director Eric Wynalda will be hopping on a plane to Salt Lake City to meet the team ahead of their clash with Major League Soccer side Real Salt Lake.
Wynalda, who is currently in London covering the game for FOX Soccer, will join Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes on the bench for the team’s third-round U.S. Open Cup game, replacing Silverbacks Assistant Coach Franklin McIntosh. He will miss the game due to disciplinary action, and Silverbacks Goalkeepers Coach Jose “Gaucho” Pinho will not be available for the game due to prior commitments.
The U.S. soccer legend’s place on the bench as an assistant coach represents something of a role-reversal for him and Haynes. Wynalda was brought in last July as the club’s interim head coach, and after initially turning the team around on his own, he selected Haynes as his first assistant coach. After the duo continued to improve the team following their poor start to the 2012 season, Wynalda recommended Haynes as the man to replace him. As the head coach, Haynes then went on to lead the Silverbacks to an undefeated September, ending the 2012 season as the NASL’s hottest team.
With Haynes at the helm and the team gunning for first place in the NASL league standings this weekend, Wynalda believes that things couldn’t have worked out any better.
“Brian and I have always been a team, and we’ve never thought one of us was more important than the other,” Wynalda said. “The team is playing well and he’s doing an outstanding job, so I don’t think we should change what we’re doing. It’s my honor and pleasure to coach with him on Tuesday, and I’m going to do my best to stay out of his way.”
Although his normal duties as the Silverbacks’ technical director do not call for it, coaching is always something Wynalda enjoys doing. He looks forward to being on the bench on Tuesday, and hopes the Silverbacks can get the same result his Cal FC team got against MLS competition in the third round of the Cup last year.
“It’s going to conjure up some emotions for me and some of the players that went on that great run last year,” Wynalda said. “The Cup is a competition that is very near and dear to my heart, and I’m 100% sure that our guys, especially the former Cal FC players, will take on this game with the utmost desire. Our team is not going to enter the game with a defensive mindset, but we also know that we’re going up against a great team that is never afraid to impose their will on opponents.”
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