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Atlanta United’s USL coach Scott Donnelly leaves ‘to pursue other opportunities’

Atlanta United FC will need to find a new head coach for its United Soccer League Championship affiliate, ATL UTD 2, for the 2019 season.

Scott Donnelly has left that role to “pursue other opportunities in soccer,” A club spokesman confirmed to Pro Soccer USA on Thursday. The Athletic reported Donnelly is seeking a role with an English Premier League club in the U.S.

Atlanta United has not hired a replacement for Donnelly yet. His top assistant in 2018, former MLS player Rob Valentino, remains employed by the club.

Donnelly, 39, had been with Atlanta United for just a season, guiding the club’s USL team in its inaugural campaign. ATL UTD 2 finished its first USL season with a 7-17-10 record, but ended the year with a four-game unbeaten streak.

The native of Buffalo, N.Y., was tasked with juggling the needs of the first team, helping develop academy players and trying to put a winning product on the field. This created a roster that changed constantly, featuring players ranging from young teens to promising homegrowns, SuperDraft picks to journeymen USL veterans and first-team players looking for a few minutes to stay fresh.

ATL UTD 2 fielded 40 different players in 2018. Of that group, 18 were teenagers and 10 were Atlanta academy players making their debut. Donnelly had the fifth youngest roster of the 33-team league last season.

“It’s a hard job keeping all of those balls in the air, but I feel like we’ve done it well,” Donnelly said after ATL UTD 2’s final game of the 2018 season. “I feel like we’ve been cognizant and remain consistent with the club’s mission for this team and always kept that in the front of our mind.”

After playing college soccer at Binghamton and SUNY Geneseo, Donnelly began his coaching career as an assistant at Division III Washington College on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where he also earned a master’s degree in European studies. He was also an assistant at another Division III school, Sewanee: The University of the South.

Donnelly got his first head coaching job at Division II Mars Hill University in North Carolina, leading them to an 18-18-3 record over two seasons. He went on to be an assistant at two Division I schools, Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois Edwardsville. As a college coach, he helped develop 15 professional players and five MLS SuperDraft picks.

In 2011, Donnelly began working with the U.S. national team as a scout for the youth teams. He also worked as a technical advisor and as an assistant coach for the U-18 national team from 2014 to 2018. Donnelly was also on the staff for the U.S. U-17 World Cup squad that went to India. It was there where he first worked with Atlanta United academy products Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin and Justin Garces.

Donnelly speaks English and Spanish and holds a U.S. Soccer class “A” coaching license along with the Academy Director License.

ATL UTD 2 will have a new home in 2019, moving their home games from CoolRay Field in Lawrenceville, Ga. to Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga. They’ll begin training in February and open their 2019 campaign at home on March 9 vs. Hartford Athletic.

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