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UConn hires Chris Gbandi as new men’s soccer head coach

The former Husky player and assistant was most recently head coach at Northeastern.

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UConn men’s soccer has its new head man. Chris Gbandi, a former player and assistant for the Huskies, will replace Ray Reid as the ninth head coach in program history and the third since 1969, the school announced Friday.

“Chris Gbandi is one of the finest players in the history of our soccer program,” UConn athletic director David Benedict said in a press release. ”But that ability pales in comparison to his caliber as a person and leader of young men. Our men’s soccer program is rich in tradition, and a source of pride for our university community and the state of Connecticut. UConn soccer is equipped for success and Chris is the right man to lead us into a bright future.”

“My family and I would like to thank David Benedict and the search committee for putting their trust in me to lead this legendary program,” Gbandi said in a release. ”This is certainly a dream come true for me to be given the opportunity to return to my alma mater and to build upon the legacy that my mentor Ray Reid has established. UConn soccer has a rich history of success, and my goal is to recruit and develop the best student-athletes at a world class institution that will ultimately bring another National Championship to Storrs.”

Gbandi was on Reid’s staff from 2011-2012 as his first foray into coaching after a nearly decade-long professional career.

The Liberian national was a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, the player of the year award in collegiate scocer, in his sophomore and senior years and won the award in 2000, his junior season. He was also part of four Big East regular season titles and the 2000 national championship team.

FC Dallas selected the defender with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 MLS SuperDraft, a team for which he would play six seasons. He was also named the squad’s defender of the year in 2006. Gbandi then spent two years in Norway with FK Haugesund, which was in the second division of Norwegian soccer at the time. His final season of his playing career came with NASL side Miami FC in 2010.

The 42-year-old departed UConn for Holy Cross, where he spent three seasons as an assistant, before heading to Dartmouth as an associate head coach from 2014-2016. He then took the head job at Northeastern.

Northeastern had not secured a winning record in the three seasons before Gbandi took over and after a few trying seasons in Boston — five losing seasons to start his tenure — Northeastern turned it around in 2021. The squad went 11-6-2 this year and finished second in the Colonial Athletic Conference, with their season ending in the semifinals of their conference tournament.

Gbandi’s assistants have not yet been announced.