Louisville City FC announced the hiring of John Hackworth as its new head coach. The 48-year old is currently managing the U.S. U-17 men’s national team.
Louisville, playing its fourth season, won last year’s USL Championship and is currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
“I’m going to be double-dipping, for sure,” Hackworth said in an interview with LouisvilleCityFC.com. “I’m going to be doing as much work as I can to be prepared when I do arrive at the club. I’ll be anxious during that time, but I still have a responsibility to the U.S. U-17 National Team and we have some tough games so I’ll try to make sure that I stay focused on both tasks.”
Hackworth previously managed the U-17s from 2004 through 2007 and began his second stint in 2015 after a stop with the Philadelphia Union. He steered the squad to a second place finish in the 2017 CONCACAF Championship and a quarterfinal appearance at the 2017 World Cup in India.
As seems to be the case with much of U.S. Soccer, the U-17 team is in something of a transitional period following the ending of the long-running Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida. It remains a key age group for development and scouting as it provides most players — particularly those without a passport or visa who can’t join foreign clubs before turning 18 — with a platform to impress foreign clubs before embarking on their professional careers. The right coach can integrate and promote talented players who will pay future dividends for the senior national team; the wrong coach can create rifts with players, particularly dual-nationals, and disrupt entire generations of talent.
U.S. Soccer has some time to find a replacement, as the upcoming CONCACAF Championship and World Cup aren’t until 2019. Possible candidates could include current coaches within the system such as Dave van den Bergh (U-19), Omid Namazi (U-18), and Shaun Tsakiris (U-16), but there are currently no rumored or reported names.