BACK IN THE SADDLE: Wynalda named L.A. Wolves head coach

LOS ANGELES — L.A. Wolves FC Friday announced that Eric Wynalda will take over as head coach with the club’s first team.

Wynalda, who most recently was the technical director of the Atlanta Silverbacks for part of the 2014 North American Soccer League season, has begun training the squad as the Wolves prepare for the United Premier Soccer League season and its upcoming Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup matches in April.

“The decision to return to coaching wasn’t one that I made quickly, so it was a matter of finding the right opportunity at the right time,” Wynalda said. “L.A. Wolves FC is a club on the rise. It has the right kind of leadership at the top, and creates nothing but opportunities for players looking to find a way to climb up the ladder. The club has all the hallmarks of future success, and with a shot to make a deep run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2017, the trajectory for L.A. Wolves FC is through the roof right now. There’s much to do, and believe me, the work has already begun.”

Wolves sporting director Michael Collins, a Hicksville, N.Y. native, said Wynalda’s hiring was “a very positive step for our club. L.A.”

“Wolves FC is an organization committed to winning, and we think that bringing in Eric now as Head Coach will have an immediate impact as we prepare for the … Open Cup round that are just around the corner,” he added. “As many folks know, Eric was a world-class striker and has played the game at the highest levels between the U.S. national team and a solid stint in one of the world’s most elite leagues, the German Bundesliga.

“Eric’s knowledge and background as a successful player give him a resume we highly respect and feel players can connect with. As a coach, Eric has had some very good success in a brief but effective career starting with Cal FC in 2012 — and his unprecedented U.S. Open Cup run leading the amateur side in a historic win over MLS’s Portland Timbers in the fourth round — and leading NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks in 2012 and ’14. We look forward to a long-term relationship with Eric as he gets to work with his vision in molding a squad that has had a winning record the past three years and is on the cusp on even greater things in the future.”

Wynalda, 47, is a sports broadcaster for Fox Sports and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Born in Fullerton, Calif., Wynalda scored more than 60 goals in nearly 20 professional seasons in Germany and the United States. He also recorded a then-record 34 goals and had 106 caps for the U.S. national side. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

He tallied the first goal in Major League Soccer in 1996.