Eric Wynalda, 47, will be at the helm of his second professional team, sources close to Wynalda confirmed. He previously coached the Atlanta Silverbacks in 2014, splitting time between FOX television coverage and his club duties. His Silverbacks earned 10 points in 10 matches. In 2012, he took USASA side Cal FC to the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, beating MLS side Portland Timbers along the way. Wynalda is currently signed on to lead amateur side LA Wolves in the 2017 Open Cup. Much of Wolves’ front office are also attached to the NASL project.
Orange County is just one of four expansion sides slated to join the NASL in 2018.
Orange County is close to securing its place in the NASL’s 2018 landscape. In January, interim commissioner Rishi Sehgal confirmed that the prospective addition to the league from Orange County would not be the USL’s Orange County SC. The latter is presently MLS expansion club Los Angeles FC’s USL affiliate. This makes for an interesting potential market for the NASL Orange County side.
The NASL has not yet fully approved expansion into Orange County, according to sources. The league declined to comment on potential expansion projects at this time.
Ultimately, Wynalda’s hire gives Orange County a respected face as its ownership prepares to launch in 2018. Their team would join as one of three NASL sides based in California, along with San Diego and 2017 newcomers San Francisco.
Wynalda knows the league from his time in Atlanta. Having served as the Silverbacks’ technical director in addition to his previous coaching duties, Wynalda may bring contacts and former players with him to the West Coast.
Wynalda’s contract with Fox runs through 2018, meaning he may again split duties between punditry and coaching, though a source indicated that a decision has not been finalized. Unlike his Atlanta situation, he will do so without having to travel cross-country for his coaching duties.
Wes Burdine contributed to this report.
FiftyFive.One is now on Patreon. Do you like the independent coverage of soccer news from Minnesota and beyond that FiftyFive.One offers? Please consider becoming a patron.