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By DAN KARELL
While Jimmy Nielsen ended his playing career following Sporting Kansas City’s MLS Cup title victory on Dec. 7, it seems that he could still be involved in soccer in America as soon as next season.
Oklahoma City Energy FC were announced as an expansion franchise in USL Pro last July, and according to a report in Sports Illustrated, Nielsen could become the club’s first head coach ahead of their inaugural season in 2014. The report also asserts that with Orlando City SC moving to Major League Soccer in 2015, Sporting KC would likely make Energy FC their USL Pro affiliated club in the future, starting with a partnership next season before a full switch in two years.
Both Sporting KC and Energy FC have not yet publicly commented on the report.
If Nielsen did become head coach, he would be the third former MLS player to be coaching in the third tear of U.S. Soccer, joining former Kansas City Wizards star Preki Radosavljevic (Sacramento Republic) and former San Jose Earthquakes, Chicago Fire, and Dallas Burn midfielder Justin Evans (Pittsburgh Riverhounds).
The report states that USL Pro is set to announce an expansion to Tulsa, Okla., creating an in-state rivalry within the league. The Tulsa team wouldn’t enter until the 2015 season.
In addition, the report claims that the MLS Reserve Division will come to an end following the 2014 season and that MLS clubs can either affiliate with an existing USL Pro club or start their own, and play their reserves and youth players in that league if they aren’t receiving regular playing time in MLS.
What do you think of this report? Think Nielsen would do well as a head coach? Like the idea of a second USL Pro team in Oklahoma?
Share your thoughts below.