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Dave Sarachan hired as head coach of USL’s North Carolina FC

Sep 11, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; United States head coach Dave Sarachan walks off the field after his team defeated Mexico during an international friendly soccer match at Nissan Stadium. US won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

After a brief run with the U.S. men’s national team, Dave Sarachan will coach a club team again.

United Soccer League Championship side North Carolina FC announced Monday that Sarachan will be its new head coach.

“I am very excited to be joining NCFC as its head coach,” Sarachan said in a statement from the club. “To have an opportunity to be aligned with quality people, excellent facilities, a soccer rich community and a shared philosophy in terms of vision and ambition is every head coach’s wish. I look forward to working with (owner Steve Malik and general manager Curt Johnson) and all of the NCFC family in building a team that we all will be proud of and that will contend for trophies.”

Sarachan replaces Colin Clarke, who the club did not retain as its head coach in October after a 13-13-8 season and a ninth-place finish. Sarachan will be formally introduced to fans and media on Jan. 3.

Sarachan, 64, last coached a club team from 2002 to 2007, when he guided the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer. Under Sarachan, the Fire won a Supporters’ Shield, two U.S. Open Cup titles and appeared in an MLS Cup final. In 2003, he was named MLS Coach of the Year. He was fired by Chicago in 2007 and was 75–57–33 across all competitions. Before coaching the Fire, he was a U.S. national team assistant in 2002, when the team appeared in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

After leaving the Fire, Sarachan was an assistant coach for the LA Galaxy under Bruce Arena from 2008 to 2016. During that time, the Galaxy won three MLS Cups and two Supporter Shields. They also competed in Concacaf Champions League four times.

When Arena took over as the head coach of the U.S. men’s national team in 2016, Sarachan joined his staff as an assistant. After the team lost to Trinidad & Tobago in October 2017, thus failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Arena resigned.

Soon after, Sarachan accepted a role as the interim head coach of the team. He guided the U.S. through 2018, going 3-5-4 in 12 matches. Earlier this month, U.S. Soccer hired former Columbus Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter to lead the national team.

Notable U.S. results under Sarachan included 1-1 draws with Portugal and France, and a 1-0 win over Mexico. Sarachan mostly played younger players during his reign over the national team, awarding 23 players with their first national team caps.

A native of Rochester, N.Y., Sarachan played college soccer at Cornell University and played professionally for several years for teams in the North American Soccer League and the Major Indoor Soccer League. He was the head coach at Cornell from 1988 to 1997, leading the team to two NCAA tournament appearances.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dave Sarachan as the new North Carolina FC head coach,” NCFC general manager Curt Johnson said. “Dave has been a highly respected leader for both club and country at every stop during his career and knows what it takes to grow a club, develop world class young talent, and win. This is a huge moment for everyone that loves North Carolina Football Club and for soccer in the state of North Carolina.”

The club said in a statement that Sarachan will “guide the professional team with an eye on the youth-to-pro pipeline and player development.” NCFC has a large youth academy and has had players called up to youth national teams.

The director of NCFC’s youth academy, John Bradford, will be an assistant coach for Sarachan with the senior team while remaining in charge of his youth development role. The club also announced that goalkeeper coach Nic Platter has been promoted to assistant general manager, but will retain his coaching duties too.

“When I was here (in March 2018) with our national team, I had the opportunity to visit with the NCFC Youth Academy and club,” Sarachan said.  “I was very impressed with their program and commitment to developing players at the youth level. As I take on my role as head coach of the first team, I am very committed to the connection of the entire organization to raise the bar on our youth-to-pro philosophy.”

NCFC, formerly known as the Carolina RailHawks, has existed and played its games in Cary, North Carolina since 2007. The club dumped the RailHawks name and re-branded as NCFC after the 2016 season. The club competed in USL until 2010, then NASL until 2016, and then came back to the USL Championship in 2018.

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