Jim McGuinness is to be the new Head Coach of Charlotte Independence in the American United Soccer League (USL). McGuinness takes over with immediate effect as he begins planning for the 2019 USL Championship season.
This is McGuinness’ first appointment as a head coach in professional club football having made the switch to the sport after enjoying a hugely successful time in management in Gaelic football. He won the 2012 All-Ireland senior football title with Donegal, and is credited as being one of the most influential managers in the sport over the past decade.
He has been a Gaelic Games columnist with the Irish Times and an analyst on Sky Sports for the past couple of seasons. Sky will now be looking for a double replacement in football after James Horan was appointed as Manager of the Mayo team for next season.
McGuinness has worked with Celtic FC as Performance Consultant at the Glasgow giants where he progressed to coach at U-16, U-19 and U-20 levels.
In 2017 he moved to China to take up the position as assistant-coach to ex-Bayer Leverkusen and Red Bull Salzburg coach Roger Schmidt with Beijing Sinobo Guoan FC in the Chinese Super League.
“I am very excited about the prospect of taking up the head coach role at the Charlotte Independence and am both proud and grateful to the club for having put its faith in me,” said McGuinness.
“I knew from early on in our discussions that the club and I shared a vision for what we want to achieve and now it’s about everybody involved working hard to make that happen.”
“I have learned a great deal already about the USL and firmly believe we can be really competitive in the USL Championship in 2019. It’s an exciting time for the game in the United States which is growing all the time and I believe the Charlotte Independence will have a major influence in the years to come.”
“Jim has a proven track record as both a coach who gets the best out of players and also as a winner,” said Club President Jim McPhilliamy.
“That is a very appealing combination and once we knew there was a possibility of bringing him to the Charlotte Independence we were very excited about the prospect and are delighted to have him on board.”
“With Jim as Head Coach and our experienced management team, we believe we are now ideally positioned to compete strongly in the USL Championship in 2019 and beyond.”
The Charlotte Independence plays in the Eastern Conference of the USL Championship. The USL is North America’s largest professional soccer organisation, overseeing the USL Championship, USL League One and USL League Two. It is a second tier Championship to the better known Major League Soccer with lots of paths for progress for players and coaches.
Over 100 clubs participate across the three divisions with growth of 95% in attendance between 2014 and 2018.
2.8 million tickets were sold for games in 2018 which is an increase of a third from 2017.