On Friday, the Columbus Crew made a new signing, but you won’t see him scoring goals or defending. Joining the Black & Gold is new technical director Marc Nicholls. As a technical director, Nicholls will oversee player development and coaching development within the Crew.
Nicholls most recently spent time with new Major League Soccer expansion side Charlotte FC. Hired in January of 2020, Nicholls ran the deployment of Charlotte’s Academy and player development. He hasn’t only built academies, but he’s coached and run them with an impressive resume behind his work.
In seven seasons within the Seattle Sounders Academy, Nicholls was responsible for player development as well. That work turned into 15 players moving from the Sounders Academy to the MLS first team. So, when players like U.S. international Jordan Morris and the Crew’s new defender Jake Morris (no relation) were developing, Nicholls was a crucial piece of the DNA of the organization. Nicholl’s work impressed the Crew’s front office.
“Marc is a great addition to our technical staff,” Black & Gold president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said of the addition. “In searching for a new Technical Director we knew that we wanted someone who had not only a thorough understanding of MLS, but also an understanding of how developing players fit into this league. Marc has served as a member of the MLS Player Development Sub-Committee and the U.S. Soccer Education Department and has served in a mentoring role for club leaders and coaches. As we seek sustainable success club-wide and build our pathway to the professional ranks from the Crew Academy, Crew 2 and up through the first team, it will be critical to align our style of play and continue to develop staff at every level. Marc has certainly had great success helping young players and professionals at every level develop, and in speaking with him it’s clear that his values and ideals align with those of our Club. We can’t wait to get to work with him.”
Part of Nicholls’ responsibilities is the development and success of Crew 2, Columbus’ second team competing in the inaugural MLS Next Pro league.
Outside of the front office part of his career, Nicholls also spent time on the touchline as a coach. He started in Seattle through coaching in the Sounds Academy after years of coaching outside of MLS. Nicholls led the Carolina Dynamo in North Carolina to three successive South Atlantic Division titles from 2011-13.
On the U.S. Soccer level, Nicholls coaching work has been recognized. In both 2010 and 2012, U.S. Soccer awarded Nicholls with the U.S. Soccer Academy Coach of the Year. It’s safe to say that the youth within the Crew Academy and upcoming Crew 2 roster are in good hands.
Columbus is currently in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, preparing for the upcoming MLS regular season. From Feb. 1-6, the Black & Gold will train in the field bubble at the OhioHealth Performance Center. From there, the Crew heads to Charleston, South Carolina to take on Inter Miami CF, Charlotte FC and the Charleston Battery in the Carolina Challenge Cup.
The Black & Gold start their 2022 MLS campaign at home on Feb. 26 when Columbus welcomes a Western Conference 2021 MLS Cup playoff side in the Vancouver Whitecaps to Lower.com Field.