Orlando City SC assistant general manager Erik Ustruck has been promoted to general manager of the Orlando Pride, a league source told Pro Soccer USA.
Ustruck will represent the Pride at the upcoming NWSL College Draft, which takes place Thursday in Chicago. The Pride own the No. 25 and No. 30 overall picks in this year’s draft.
The Pride confirmed Ustruck’s promotion in a Monday announcement.
Ustruck will report directly to Orlando City SC executive vice president of soccer operations Luiz Muzzi.
“We’re going to dedicate a GM, the Pride needs a GM,” Muzzi said. “Somebody who can take care of Pride fully and [be] committed to the Pride. I think when you have one person doing a lot of things at the same time, you end up losing that focus that we need.
“Erik is doing a fantastic job with the Pride. He’s really excited. He loves that. He knows the club. He’s been here for six years, seven years. Couldn’t be a better guy.”
Muzzi said Ustruck will operate with the necessary autonomy to make decisions for the Pride.
“He’s been doing that for all this time for Orlando City,” Muzzi said. “He’s been involved with the Pride, as well. At the end of the day, there’s a lot of things that happen in the background. It’s not necessarily the guy that you see making the announcement that is actually evaluating and doing all that. Erik has been doing a lot of that already. He’s passionate about it. He knows the game from having played and all that and he’s been with the Pride for a while already.
“He knows the cap. He knows the league rules, which is very important, as well. I mean, you wouldn’t find a better guy.”
The Pride are still in the final stages of their coaching search and are expected to make an announcement soon. However, that announcement will not come before the NWSL draft. A club source confirmed the coach has been identified, but can’t be named until after the draft because the coach under contract with another team.
“It’s coming,” Muzzi said. “We have an agreement with a coach. We’re just working out the final details and that’s coming up, but we do have a coach in place already.”
Ustruck, 34, spent three seasons (2007-2009) with the Houston Dynamo organization as a player, making his MLS debut in 2009. He was signed by Orlando City in 2011, when the team was still in the USL, and made 48 appearances for the Lions during three seasons.
“I am honored and excited to begin this new position with the Pride and want to thank Luiz and the rest of the executive leadership for entrusting me with this opportunity,” Ustruck said in a statement. “We have already hit the ground running, not only to put together a strong, competitive roster, but also to build a team culture here in Orlando that every player will want to be a part of.”
The Pride finished last season 8-10-6 (30 points), missing the playoffs despite having a talented roster of international stars. The club parted ways with coach Tom Sermanni at the end of last season. Former Pride assistant coach Khano Smith recently joined United Soccer League Championship side Birmingham Legion FC as the team’s new assistant coach.