HARTFORD – It’s one and done for the coach of Hartford’s young professional soccer team.
In a press release issued less than twenty-four hours after their first season concluded in a 2-1 loss in a ‘friendly’ against Jamaica, the Hartford Athletic announced that “the Club and Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen have mutually agreed to part ways.”
The release quoted Chairman & CEO Bruce Mandell as saying “We would like to thank Jimmy for his contributions to our organization and all his efforts in launching our Club in its inaugural season. Jimmy has provided the foundation for our club, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
The team said it will an begin international search for a replacement immediately, noting “Our fans and community have given us a mandate to build a world class soccer organization, and we will not let them down.”
The release offered no quotes from Nielsen, but shortly after the announcement, he re-tweeted it saying “I wish everyone, players-staff-fans… nothing but the best in the future. Thank you!”.
Nielsen is a former goalie who had a 20-year career with Leicester City and Sporting KC of the MLS. He led the Hartford to a record of 8-21-5. They finished 17th out of 18 teams in USL’s Eastern Conference.
Before playing a home game, first at Rentschler Field and finally in the renovated Dillon Stadium, Hartford started their inaugural season with eight consecutive road matches, and didn’t record their first win until their eleventh game. The team says “Despite the slow start, Athletic finished the season strong, earning seven points in the final three matches of the season, all at Dillon Stadium, and outscored their opponents 8-3 in that span.”
And despite a less than stellar rookie season, enthusiastic fans have turned out to support the team. 11,000 people turned out for the team’s first game in Connecticut. Saturday night’s game – a post-season exhibition – drew a reported 4.000 fans. The team averaged over 5,000 fans per game.