Former Bafana Bafana star and Orlando Pirates assistant coach Bradley Carnell has been named as the new head coach of MLS expansion franchise St Louis City FC in St Louis, Missouri, ending weeks of speculation even linking him to Manchester United.
The former defender has forged a name for himself in America after he left his assistant’s role at Orlando Pirates in 2017 to join New York Red Bulls.
He filled a number of positions in his time in New York, even filling in as an interim head coach, but now has the opportunity to prove his worth as the head honcho.
Speaking to Soccer Laduma after the announcement, Carnell said: “I’m excited about the opportunity to head up St Louis City. It’s a new expansion team in the MLS. The style of play that we are adopting speaks to the community out here in the Midwest. There are a lot of firsts here. It’s almost like giving birth to a child. There is this blank canvas now and you can build it from the ground up.”
The St Louis FC team are building to be a part of the MLS in January 2023. Currently they’re competing in the MLS Next Pro League, the second tier forming the bridge to the top flight.
Carnell will be tasked with handling the club’s development structures and getting the first team ready for the step up to the MLS.
The former Pirates assistant has been handed a three-year deal and will be looking to use his contacts across the globe when scouting players and even suggested he could come looking at home.
“I don’t see why not. The individuals involved with the club’s scouting network are connected all over the world. The club’s European scouting networks are extremely strong. Our networks across the Americas are extremely strong. And I have strong links in African structures. We won’t be looking in South Africa only, but across all of Africa for the right players. We’re about giving opportunities. I was a young boy from the southern suburbs of Johannesburg who was given an opportunity to play at a higher level, now I have been given an opportunity to be a head coach, and so I will look to give opportunities where I can.”
On rejecting the Manchester United opportunity in favour of the St Louis job, Carnell explained: “From a timing perspective, with the opportunity to have a long-term vision and then getting the opportunity to execute that, for me this was my first choice. Yes, Manchester United is certainly an attractive prospect for any coach and a dream for many. But I was already so far in with this when that opportunity was being discussed. That said, I’ve always committed to something I believe in, and I will always remain a man of my word. I had already committed to St Louis and this was my only choice.
“I’m focused on the here and now, and looking at my short-, medium and long-term goals with this club specifically. Who knows what happens 10 or 12 years down the line,” he concluded when asked if he would return to South Africa.
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