NASHVILLE, TN - Nashville SC announced Wednesday the appointment of Steve Guppy, Brett Jacobs and Matt Pickens to the coaching staff for their debut season in Major League Soccer. Guppy and Jacobs will join Head Coach Gary Smith as assistant coaches, while Matt Pickens will serve as the goalkeeper coach, a role he filled with Nashville SC's USL side.
"Having continuity among the coaching staff is really important for us," said General Manager Mike Jacobs. "I think you tend to find that most head coaches have a stable they work with wherever they go. The opportunity for Gary [Smith] to have this group of coaches who have worked together in a very successful setting in Colorado in invaluable. We’re excited to have them all reunited here.”
"Every team that goes into the season has got to be thinking they’re going to win a championship," added Head Coach Gary Smith. "If you don’t, then I don’t see a point in taking part in the year. I would expect it’s going to be a challenge, while most people will certainly write us off for any sort of silverware, we have to place some sort of expectations on ourselves to be challenging for that. If we fall short of it, we’ll still end up in a really good spot and give our fans and organization a year to remember in our inaugural season. For sure we’ll be looking to win as much as we possibly can.”
Steve Guppy is a former English international winger, with a playing career that spanned 19 years, including spells with Wycombe Wanderers, Leicester City, Celtic and DC United. Guppy served as Smith's assistant with the Colorado Rapids, winning MLS Cup in 2010. Since then, Guppy has coached in various capacities with Sunderland, Port Vale and the Republic of Ireland national side.
“I’m really excited for a number of things," said Guppy. "Moving to a new city and experiencing that with my family. I’m excited for the job at hand and the new project. Having the opportunity to start from the ground up as it were and hopefully having an influence on the players with the kind of ideas and work ethic that we’re hoping to install right from the word go that will ultimately show on the pitch.”
Brett Jacobs was also part of Smith's Colorado Rapids backroom staff for their MLS Cup winning campaign. Since then, he's served as the head coach of Clark College, Portland Timbers U-23, and Europa Point FC, and joined Nashville SC's USL side as an assistant in January 2019.
“We are going to be really competitive," said Jacobs. "I don’t think we should sell ourselves short of being a winning team. Knowing how much the league has grown, a lot of these teams do have a head start on us, I still don’t think that’s going to inhibit our ability to be an attractive and exciting team to watch.”
Matt Pickens will remain with the club as the goalkeepers coach, a role he filled at the USL level. His appointment to the MLS staff marks the end of his playing career, which spanned 17 years and included an MLS Cup winning campaign with the Colorado Rapids, as well as time with Chicago Fire, Tampa Bay Rowdies, and most recently Nashville SC, where he won the 2019 USL Championship Golden Glove.
“I’m excited to continue on with the club in a new full-time role," said Pickens. "I’m just excited to get this thing going, get the guys in town and get on the grass, training people and try and make them better and seeing what we can do as coaches to evolve the club and to be successful.”
Nashville have 52 days until their Major League Soccer campaign begins, taking on Atlanta United on February 29 at Nissan Stadium. With details for their preseason plans to be announced shortly, the coaching staff will have to hit the ground running to prepare for a successful debut at the highest level of soccer in the United States.
“We want to be able to give our fans something to be proud of, and the best way to do that is to make sure that when we take the field this season, they see a team that looks comparable to the teams they are up against," said Mike Jacobs. "If you watch Nashville SC play and you can’t tell which team is the expansion team and which is the one that has been around for a while, we’ve probably done a good job to start our first season.”