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Silverbacks Name Gary Smith Head Coach

December 23, 2014 - North American Soccer League (NASL) - Atlanta Silverbacks News Release


Atlanta, Georgia (December 23, 2014) - The Atlanta Silverbacks announced today that Gary Smith has been hired as the club's head coach. Smith, who led Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids to the MLS Cup 2010 title as head coach, arrives with a background that also includes development, scouting, and coaching roles at clubs such as Arsenal FC, Stevenage FC, and the Republic of Ireland National Team.

"We are proud to welcome Gary to the Silverbacks organization," said Atlanta Silverbacks President and General Manager Andy Smith. "As a proven winner, with experience coaching the highest levels of U.S. and International soccer, Gary is the caliber of leader our players and fans deserve."

"I am extremely excited to be joining the Atlanta Silverbacks and the NASL," said Gary Smith. "Having spent three years away from the U.S. soccer scene, I'm looking forward to bringing a creative and fresh mindset to challenge the talented and competitive teams that already exist in this league."

The 46-year-old Englishman began his playing career with the Fulham FC youth academy. After four years and one appearance on the senior team, Smith moved twice before settling in with Wycombe Wanderers under the guidance of Martin O'Neill. Smith made over 60 appearances before injuries set him back. He attempted to keep playing League soccer, including two injury-riddled seasons with Barnet FC, but was forced to retire at age 29.

The next year he began his coaching career, first as an Academy coach with Wimbledon FC from 1997-2004, then as Youth U-18 coach for Wycombe Wanderers for two years. Holding a UEFA "˜A' coaching license, in 2005 Smith was named Reserves Coach at Watford FC. In 2007 he became a scout for Arsenal FC, a role that eventually brought him to Colorado to launch the Arsenal Youth Academy at the Rapids' facility in 2008.

Shortly after the 2008 MLS season began, Smith was also assisting the Rapids' first team. He was named the team's Interim Head Coach for the final 11 games of the year. After narrowly missing out on the playoffs, he was announced as the club's sixth head coach in November 2008.

The Rapids missed the playoffs in Smith's first full year at the helm, but then made it all the way to the MLS Cup final in his second full season in 2010, with Colorado defeating FC Dallas, 2-1, to claim the club's first major trophy. The Rapids also made the playoffs in 2011 and were narrowly knocked out of the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League. Smith's contract was not renewed and he finished his career in Colorado with a 39-35-31 (W-L-T) regular season record.

In January 2012 Smith was named manager of English League One side Stevenage FC. He managed the side to the 5th Round of the FA Cup, where they drew Tottenham, 0-0, at home and forced a replay at White Hart Lane, where the Premiership side proved too much and won the rematch 3-1.

Stevenage made it to the League One Playoff semifinal that same year, falling to Sheffield United with a 1-0 aggregate score, conceding a goal scored in the 85th minute of the return leg.

The following season saw a huge roster shuffle, yet Stevenage began the season with only one loss in the first 14 games, climbing to 2nd place in League 1, the club's highest-ever League position. However a stretch of poor results saw Smith's time at Stevenage end in March 2013.

He has since served as a scout, involved in player evaluation and team assessments, for Republic of Ireland Men's National Team head coach Martin O'Neill.

Smith will arrive in Atlanta upon receipt of his visa in the coming weeks.

The Silverbacks begin the 2015 season on April 4 against Indy Eleven at Silverbacks Park. Season Tickets and Home Opener Gift Packs are on sale at discount prices for a limited time. Tickets can be reserved by calling 404-969-4900 or at AtlantaSilverbacksFC.com.

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