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USL notes: Hartford hires Southampton’s Radhi Jaidi as head coach

Jaidi played in the 2006 World Cup and was previously the coach of Southampton’s U-23 team.

In its second season of play, Hartford Athletic of the USL Championship will have its second head coach.

The club announced last week that it had hired Radhi Jaidi as its manager for next season. This comes on the heels of the club announcing in October that it had “mutually agreed” to part ways with former head coach Jimmy Nielsen, who guided the club to a 8-21-5 record in its inaugural season.

Jaidi comes to Hartford after managing the U-23 side for English Premier League club Southampton FC, a position he held for three seasons.

“Our fans have given us a mandate to build a world-class organization, and Radhi brings everything to the table that we need to achieve this goal as our leader on the field,” Hartford CEO Bruce Mandell said in a statement. “We thank Southampton Football Club for putting their trust in our organization and look forward to our growing relationship.”

In a release, Hartford Athletic said “the move signals the first stage of a developing partnership between Hartford Athletic and the Southampton Academy.” The partnership between Hartford and Southampton could include loan deals, player development and talent identification.

Before becoming a coach, Jaidi had a lengthy career as a player, mostly featuring at centerback for various clubs, including Southampton, Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers. He was capped 105 times by the Tunisian national team, and played and scored in the 2006 World Cup.

“I have seen the fans in action and cannot wait to be part of the atmosphere at Dillon Stadium,” Jaidi said in a statement. “We have a big task at hand, and there is so much potential in Hartford and in the USL Championship overall. Thank you to Hartford Athletic and to Southampton Football Club for the opportunity.”

Hartford has already agreed to terms to bring back five players from the 2019 squad for the 2020 season, including defender Alex Davey, midfielders Danny Barrera, Harry Swartz and Nicky Downs, and forward Alex Dixon.

Jamaica calls up four USL players

The Jamaican national team has called in four USL Championship players for games in the Concacaf Nations League tournament.

Leading the USL call-ups for Jamaica is Kevaughn Frater, who had an impressive USL season, tallying 14 goals and five assists in 30 games this year. He is joined by Bethlehem Steel FC’s Chavany Willis, Louisville City FC’s Shaun Francis and OKC Energy FC’s Je-Vaughn Watson.

Jamaica will face Antigua & Barbuda on Nov. 15 and Guyana on Nov. 18.

Miller and Speas to return for NCFC

North Carolina FC announced last week that midfielders Steven Miller and Ben Speas will return for the team next season in 2020 after signing new contracts. The duo combined for 11 goals and 11 assists in 2019, helping NCFC go 16-10-8 and reach the playoffs in Dave Sarachan’s first season at the helm.

2020 will be Miller’s sixth season with the club. He wore the captain’s armband 22 times this past season and made the USL Championship Team of the Week three times.

“Statistically, Steven had his best year and provided some important goals for us this year, along with being a guy that is really embedded with the club and the community,” Sarachan said in a statement. “(Speas is) a guy who is a great pro, showed up every day, utilized his experience with our younger guys and showed a lot of versatility positionally, whether we played him as a central midfielder, second forward or a wide guy.”

Speas was with NCFC this past season on-loan from Indy Eleven. He created 66 chances for the club this past season, which was the seventh most in the Eastern Conference.

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