With Charlotte set to begin play in Major League Soccer as an expansion team in 2021, Zoran Krneta has a lot of work to do over the next year and sleeping will be low on his list of priorities.
The club owned by billionaire David Tepper announced Tuesday that Krneta has been hired as its sporting director and the first member of its technical staff.
“This is a hugely exciting time for Charlotte and I am thrilled to be part of this new MLS club,” Krneta said in a statement. “David Tepper’s vision, together with the knowledge and expertise of the technical and executive team we are assembling, demonstrate that our goal will be to compete for the MLS Cup title starting from year one.
“I don’t see myself getting much sleep over the next 12 months. That being said, I relish the challenge that lies ahead and welcome you all to join the fantastic ride that awaits us.”
Krneta hasn’t worked in MLS before, but comes to the league with experience in identifying very talented players. He is the founder of the global scouting network Star Sports & Entertainment, which has placed players on rosters in MLS, the EPL, La Liga and Serie A. His scouting network was credited with identifying Real Madrid’s Luka Jovic and Andriy Lunin, Lazio’s Sergej Milinković-Savić, New York City FC’s Heber and Chicago Fire’s Nemanja Nikolic.
Since 2005, Krneta has negotiated contracts for more than 150 players worldwide. He is a graduate of the University of London.
“Tom Glick identified Zoran as an ideal fit early on,” Tepper said in a statement. “He is innovative, understands and believes in our vision and is well-connected globally. We are looking forward to building a first-class, competitive club our fans can be proud of.”
Added Glick: “Zoran is the executive we sought to lead us in our pursuit of building a consistently high-performing team, including winning in our first season. Zoran is a highly talented soccer professional and leader who will help us build a club that identifies and attracts talent from around the world to join us in Charlotte while also investing in the development of young players in our home here in the Carolinas.”
Krneta will be responsible for all on-field operations for Charlotte’s MLS team, which includes recruiting coaches, hiring staff, identifying and signing players, and creating and developing a youth academy.
After paying the highest fee for an expansion club in the league’s history, Tepper and the city of Charlotte were awarded the 30th MLS franchise on Dec. 17. The yet-to-be-named club will play its matches at Bank of America Stadium, which is also home to the Tepper-owned Carolina Panthers of the NFL.
Krneta will officially begin working for the club when his work permit is approved by the U.S. government. The club is expected to announce additional hires in the coming weeks.