SBJ/June 24-30, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Eric Wynalda, technical director, NASL Atlanta Silverbacks

A former U.S. men’s national team player, Eric Wynalda now splits his time between working in one soccer league and analyzing others on television. Wynalda is in his first season as technical director of the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks and fourth year as an analyst for Fox Soccer. The three-time World Cup player makes his home in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
— Compiled by Christopher Botta

Photo by: MIKE THOMPSON

People told me I was out of my mind to take the challenge of being the technical director in Atlanta, but it was the kind of work I’ve always wanted to be involved with.



Juggling roles:
Next to being a player, nothing beats working with a staff and players on a team, so I always want to make time for it. I travel to Atlanta for a few days each week and speak with our coaches every day. I’m just an employee, not an investor, but it’s gratifying to be part of a franchise that’s growing. [The Silverbacks are averaging about 5,000 fans per game this season].

Sticking with the NASL: The Silverbacks’ business plan has never been to build to become an MLS franchise. I believe the NASL is a better platform for players. MLS makes it very clear that their intention is to keep players in MLS. In the NASL, our intention is to win games and also create a platform for players to reach bigger and better things. Not all roads lead to MLS. In that sense, the NASL is a maverick, looking to do things its own way.

On Fox Soccer losing EPL to NBC: It was disappointing because the Premier League is one of the world’s best sports properties and we put so much work and emotion into it. But long-term, in listening to [Fox Sports co-President and co-COO] Eric Shanks and [Fox Soccer executive vice president] David Nathanson about where we’ll go from here, I know this will be a big decade for Fox with the women’s World Cup [in 2015 and 2019] and the men’s World Cup in 2018 and 2022. EPL rights go in three-year cycles, so it can always return.

The future at Fox Sports: We’re still talking about how soccer guys like myself are going to be integrated into the new Fox Sports 1 in August. I’ll work on our Champions League coverage and they’ve asked me to be part of the analyst team for Europa League. My contract keeps me exclusive to Fox for the next few years. Right now, with us being done with the Premier League, my weekends may be free for a while. If that allows me to spend more time with the Silverbacks, I’d embrace it.

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