Minnesota's Carl Craig Has Had 'Smooth' Transition To Head Coach

Craig took over in the offseason after serving as Manny Lagos' assistant for six years
Matthew Levine (@NASLInsider} | Mar 10, 2016

Photo credit: Minnesota United

Minnesota United has fallen just short of reaching The Championship Final over the past two years. During the offseason, several top signings came in – Stefano Pinho (from the Fort Lauderdale Strikers) and Lance Laing (from FC Edmonton) – as well as a coaching change.

While Carl Craig will now guide the Loons in an attempt to claim the Soccer Bowl trophy, the United squad and its style of play over the last several years should remain intact.

 “Manny [Lagos] and I have been working together for six years, so there is a lot of what we did under his watch were my ideas,” Craig told “There’s a lot of what he brought to the table which is part of who I am as a coach. Certainly in terms of how I manage the team will be my style. The football – Manny and I worked so closely together – is not going to be pulled apart from what we have been from years past.

Craig added: " There will be a few adjustments – any adjustments would’ve occurred with Manny being the coach because we brought in new players – but the style, tenor, the desire, and the ambition of the club now that I’ve been given the title [of head coach] hasn’t changed a bit.”

Lagos, who had been Minnesota’s only coach in the NASL, as well as the longest serving for one club in the league, has moved into the front office full time as Minnesota’s sporting director. It’s a role he had been doing in conjunction with his head-coaching duties.

“I’ve been doing the dual role for six years,” Lagos said. “It’s a situation where you want to grow and develop in your own self and make the sure club is putting itself out there for the growth and vision to be successful. As we try to build and grow it felt like the right time to separate the roles.”

The transition from assistant to the top man on the sidelines couldn’t have gone any smoother for Craig. With so many players knowing Craig from their time together over the last few years, he instantly has the respect of the locker room that he may not have had with a different club.

“I’d guess it wouldn’t be this smooth with another organization because I’d have to sell myself to the squad,” Craig said. “Right now the vast majority know how I operate. I have a great relationship [with the players] – it’s not without its hiccups as any relationship – but we’re from a position of respect and that’s made it somewhat easier than going to a new organization.”

In the end, the importance is the continuity that the team will have over the course of the season, despite the change from Lagos to Craig.

“That’s the most important thing of the transition that there is continuity, but Carl is going to be Carl and do a great job as the coach.”

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