September 5, 2018

Hartford Athletic taps former MLS player as head coach

PHOTO | Hartford Athletic
PHOTO | Hartford Athletic
Jimmy Nielsen has been named head coach of Hartford Athletic.
PHOTO | Hartford Athletic
A rendering of Hartford's Dillon Stadium, which is undergoing major renovations.

Hartford Athletic, the city's new professional soccer club, has hired a former United Soccer League (USL) coach and 19-year professional soccer player as its first-ever head coach.

The team announced Wednesday that Jimmy Nielsen joined the team after leading USL's Oklahoma City Energy FC from its inaugural season in 2014 to 2017.

During his four years there, Nielsen, a finalist for USL coach of the year in 2015, led Energy FC to the league's playoffs three times, advancing to the semi-finals twice.

Nielsen played professional soccer for 19 years in Denmark, England and with Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City, where he was captain and a two-time all star. He was named goalkeeper of the year in 2012 and won the MLS Cup in Kansas City in 2013.

"We are here to win titles and make our community proud," he said in a statement. "We have a lot to do to prepare for 2019, and I cannot wait to lead our Club onto the field for our first match."

The team says Nielsen will be introduced at an upcoming event in Hartford at an undetermined date.

Hartford Athletic is scheduled to host its first game at the city's Dillon Stadium in April. A major renovation is ongoing at the stadium, financed by a $10 million, state-funded upgrade for an all-purpose artificial turf field and other upgrades to nearby Colt Park.

Hartford Sports Group (HSG), the Athletic's owner, is also investing up to $10 million in the franchise.

The team will learn its 2019 schedule this fall, and will have games aired on USL's media partner, ESPN.

In August, the Athletic named Donovan Powell as the club's chief operating officer.

HSG, led by CEO and Chairman Bruce Mandell and co-partners Joseph Calafiore Jr. and Scott Schooley, have said the group will hire up to 24 employees by November.

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