Soccer

Eric Ramsay to join growing number of British coaches in MLS with Minnesota job

PA understands Ramsay has agreed a deal to take over at Minnesota following next weekend’s Manchester derby.

New York City FC boss Nick Cushing, future Minnesota head coach Eric Ramsay and Charlotte FC’s Dean Smith
New York City FC boss Nick Cushing, future Minnesota head coach Eric Ramsay and Charlotte FC's Dean Smith (PA & handouts) New York City FC boss Nick Cushing, future Minnesota head coach Eric Ramsay and Charlotte FC’s Dean Smith

Eric Ramsay is set to take over at Minnesota United and become the latest British coach to take a management job in Major League Soccer.

The 32-year-old will become the youngest ever head coach in the United States and Canada’s top division when the Manchester United coach completes his move to the Twin Cities.

PA understands Ramsay has agreed a deal to take over at Minnesota following next weekend’s Manchester derby and the Welshman will swell the number of British head coaches in MLS to six.

Eric Ramsay joined the Manchester United coaching set-up in 2021
Eric Ramsay joined the Manchester United coaching set-up in 2021 Eric Ramsay joined the Manchester United coaching set-up in 2021 (Mike Egerton/PA)

Gary Smith is in charge of Nashville, John Herdman is at Toronto and ex-England international Phil Neville recently took charge at the Portland Timbers having previously managed Inter Miami.

Dean Smith, the former Aston Villa and Leicester boss, is another recent appointment by an MLS club having joined ambitious Charlotte FC in the winter.

The 52-year-old took charge of his first competitive match on Saturday as they won their season opener 1-0 at home to New York City FC, who are coached by fellow Englishman Nick Cushing.

“If somebody asked for my advice, I would say to anybody in England come to MLS,” Cushing, who previously managed Manchester City’s women’s team, said.

Nick Cushing became permanent NYCFC boss in 2022 (NYCFC handout)
Nick Cushing became permanent NYCFC boss in 2022 (NYCFC handout) Nick Cushing became permanent NYCFC boss in 2022 (NYCFC handout)

“Just purely based off, firstly, the challenge is like the Championship in the sense of its really competitive.

“The opportunity to win is there if you have a good strategy, good structure, good sort of way of working. You have to back your coaching, your staff and your recruitment.

“But also we’re playing in the Carolina Panthers stadium in front of 65,000. It’s amazing.

“The games never stop. The games will go for 96 minutes. They don’t die down. Apple TV, the infrastructure around this league is excellent, so I don’t think we can affect the perception on that end.

Dean Smith joined Charlotte FC as head coach
Dean Smith Dean Smith joined Charlotte FC as head coach (Alana McCallion)

“I’m sure Dean will say in three, four, five months’ time that this was a great move for him because he will see that you get to see the whole of America, the challenge is great.”

Smith pipped former Chelsea and Everton boss Frank Lampard to the Charlotte post and British coaches of all ages are paying increasing attention to MLS.

“I’ve had a lot of people ask if I need any more coaches wanting to get out here,” the former Villa boss said.

“I’m still on the board of the LMA (League Managers Association) so I’ll do a talk for them on what it is like.”

There are also Brits in senior positions in MLS, including DC United’s Scottish general manager Ally Mackay and NYCFC sporting director David Lee.

The latter joined New York Red Bulls from hometown club Exeter in 2011 and then went on to become one of the first employees at NYCFC three years later.

Lee has seen marked change in approach during his time in MLS, from clubs being more open-minded to more experienced coaches wanting to move Stateside.

“I would say that five to seven years ago there was a perception that foreign coaches didn’t work,” Lee said.

David Lee has been NYCFC sporting director since 2019 (NYCFC handout)
David Lee has been NYCFC sporting director since 2019 (NYCFC handout) David Lee has been NYCFC sporting director since 2019 (NYCFC handout) (Katie Cahalin)

“Over time, clubs started to realise that it’s not where you’re from, it is just how good you are. There is a core American coaching tree in MLS, but more clubs are being more adventurous.

“The level of our league has increased to where it becomes more interesting for English coaches than it would have been five years ago.

“The standard has improved, budgets have improved.

“I’d have been surprised if five years ago you could have got someone like Dean Smith into this league. That is a big change.”