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Jack Collison, Zach Herold join Atlanta United academy staff

Jack Collison is Atlanta’s new U-17 head coach, and former Toronto FC draft pick Zach Herold joins as the club’s U-16 coach.

Players and coaches gathered at Atlanta United's Children's Healthcare Training Ground in Marietta, Ga. (Courtesy of Atlanta United)
(Courtesy of Atlanta United)

MARIETTA, Ga. — Atlanta United have added Jack Collison and Zach Herold as a members of the academy coaching staff, the club announced Wednesday.

Collison, a former player and coach with West Ham United in the English Premier League, will take over Atlanta’s under-17 team, a club official told Pro Soccer USA. Harold will lead the U-16s.

Collison and Atlanta United academy director Tony Annan shared the news last month on Twitter. The 30-year-old most recently coached West Ham’s under-16 academy team and holds UEFA A, B and Pro coaching licenses. Collison, a who played as a midfielder, made 121 appearances and scored 11 goals with the Hammers from 2008 to 2014. He retired with Peterborough Town in 2016 due to “persistent knee injuries,” per the BBC, which first reported his move to Atlanta.

Collison, who came up through West Ham’s academy, earned 15 caps with the Wales men’s national team from 2008 to 2014.

“For me to step away from an incredible role and a big job, it had to be something special and unique,” Collison told West Ham’s official website. “An opportunity has come up overseas that will give me the chance to discover a completely different culture, and a chance to give my family a new and exciting life experience at the same time.

“Obviously I am sad to be leaving — it has been one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make — but at the same time, I’m really excited to be going to try something completely new. In coaching terms, I am still very young and in the early part of my journey, and I am a firm believer in gaining as much experience of different backgrounds, different cultures and different sporting environments in order to increase my knowledge and skill as a coach.”

Herold, 27, is a Port St. Lucie, Fla., native and former Generation Adidas player who represented the United States at the 2009 U-17 World Cup. Toronto FC selected Herold in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, but the player was diagnosed with a heart condition that forced an early retirement. Herold has spent the past six years working with the New York Red Bulls academy. He holds a USSF B coaching license.

“We are thrilled to welcome both Jack and Zach to our club,” Annan said in a statement. “Both have several years of experience and carry a strong track record of developing youth talent, accompanied with playing experience at the highest level. They have extremely bright careers ahead of them and we’re elated that they have chosen Atlanta United as the next step in their respective coaching careers.”

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