Technical Director Luke Sassano to Step Down for Family Reasons
CINCINNATI - FC Cincinnati General Manager Gerard Nijkamp today announced that Technical Director Luke Sassano is stepping down from his position for family reasons. He will remain with the club through the end of the calendar year in an advisory role and will also assist with the transition to the new staffing structure. The club's organizational structure will not include a Technical Director moving forward.
Additionally, Hunter Freeman has been promoted to the team's new position of Director of Scouting and Player Recruitment. In this position, he will oversee the club's scouting activities and player recruitment strategies, as well as FCC's entire scouting staff. Freeman is one of six department heads on FCC's soccer side who report directly to Nijkamp.
Sassano originally joined FC Cincinnati in March 2018 and, as Technical Director, managed the team's relationship with the USL and MLS player personnel departments and oversaw the club's scouting activities, transfer negotiations and helped establish the framework and platform of the FC Cincinnati Academy.
"We want to thank Luke for all of his work to get our project off the ground," Nijkamp said. "Luke has been a valuable asset to the club, and to me since my arrival. We want to wish him and his family all the best as he makes this difficult decision to step away from his role with FC Cincinnati. For me, when you're new in a country and in a new league, it's always helpful when there is someone who can help you understand the rules and the roster. Luke has been a fantastic representative of this club and we very much appreciate his willingness to help stay with us through the upcoming transition."
"I'm incredibly thankful to Carl (Lindner III), Jeff Berding and Gerard for this opportunity with FC Cincinnati and supporting me through a difficult few months," Sassano said. "This was a hard decision to make, but the time is right to step away and focus on my family at the moment. The club is in very, very good hands, so that makes it easier to make the move now. It's been incredible to be part of the FC Cincinnati family - which is truly a family - and to also experience the outpouring of support and pride that our fans bring. I will always be a fan of this club."
Freeman originally joined FC Cincinnati in October 2018 as a domestic scout, and was promoted to Director of Domestic Scouting in February 2019. In that capacity, Freeman led all scouting activity in the U.S., including inter-league, collegiate and lower-level professional scouting activities. He also supported the club's international scouting initiatives, frequently traveling overseas to observe and track players.
"We've known Hunter for a long time - for me, from the beginning of my time in Cincinnati," Nijkamp said. "He's shown his quality already in identifying talented players and managing that process. I'm very positive about this change. He's worked closely with Luke for much of the last year and I've been very impressed working with him the last few months. I know that he will do a great job in this new role. We look forward to him growing the scouting and recruitment area."
"I am very excited to step into this new role at the club, and also very thankful to Gerard and his confidence in me for this move into this position," Freeman said. "I am so appreciative of Luke for first bringing me into the FC Cincinnati family, and am grateful that he has shared a lot of insight and wisdom. I'm looking forward to working with Gerard and all of our scouts and staff as we continue the work this off-season to improve our club for the incredible fanbase in Cincinnati."
More on Hunter Freeman
Freeman concluded his 13-year professional playing career in 2018. During his career as a defender, he featured for the Colorado Rapids, New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC and Houston Dynamo in MLS, IK Start in Norway and the New York Cosmos and Miami FC in the NASL. He helped Houston advance to MLS Cup 2011, while in the NASL, he was part of four championship teams with New York and Miami. In 2014, he was voted both the NASL player of the year and the NASL defender of the year.
Freeman was also a member of the U.S. Under-20 and Under-23 National Teams in his career. While playing, Freeman spent considerable time coaching and training youth soccer players in his time away from the field.
A two-year collegiate star at Virginia, Freeman helped the Cavaliers win a pair of ACC Championships, before leaving school early as a member of the first-ever Generation adidas class in MLS. He was drafted sixth overall by Colorado in 2005. Freeman finished his degree requirements through Southern New Hampshire University in 2012, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in communications.
FC Cincinnati will return to the field in early 2020 for their second MLS season. Season Ticket Memberships for the 2020 season are now on sale to the general public at //fccincinnati.com/tickets or by calling 513-977-5425 (KICK). A 2020 Season Ticket Membership also secures fans' place on the club's priority list, which will be utilized when sales begin in the new West End Stadium for the 2021 season.
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