The Orlando Pride announced this morning that former Lion Erik Ustruck has been hired as the NWSL team’s general manager. He will report to new Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi and manage the Pride’s technical operations. However, the Pride will not announce the club’s new coach until some time after the NWSL College Draft, potentially next week, due to the contractual obligations of the future Orlando coach.
“We’ve got a dedicated GM. The Pride needs a GM, somebody who can take care of the Pride fully and (be) committed to the Pride,” Muzzi said during media availability at Orlando City Stadium today. “I think that when you have one person doing a lot of things at the same time, you end up losing that focus that we need and Erik is doing a fantastic job with the Pride. He’s really excited. He knows the club and couldn’t be a better guy. It’s a great advance for the club.”
Ustruck played his college soccer at Santa Clara University before being drafted by the Houston Dynamo in the 2007 MLS Supplemental Draft and helped the team to the 2007 MLS Cup. In 2009, Ustruck was loaned to the recently formed Austin Aztex, then owned by Phil Rawlins and coached by Adrian Heath. After spending the 2010 season with FC Tampa Bay of the NASL, later to become the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Ustruck was signed by Orlando City for its inaugural season in 2011.
Playing with Orlando City from 2011 to 2013, Ustruck made 61 appearances with 43 starts and recorded 4,067 minutes. He ended his Orlando playing career with two goals and three assists. Following his retirement, the 34-year-old joined the Lions’ soccer operations department as a team administration manager and most recently served as the manager of soccer operations for both the Pride and Lions. In his time as a player, Ustruck helped the Lions win the 2011 and 2012 USL Pro regular season titles and the 2011 and 2013 USL Cups.
“I am honored and excited to begin this new position with the Pride and want to thank Luiz and the rest of the executive leadership for entrusting me with this opportunity,” Ustruck said in a club press release. “We have already hit the ground running, not only to put together a strong, competitive roster, but also to build a team culture here in Orlando that every player will want to be a part of.”
“(Ustruck is) passionate about it and he knows the game from having played and all that, and he’s been with the Pride for a while already,” Muzzi said. “He knows the cap, he knows the league rules, which is very important as well. You wouldn’t find a better guy.”
Muzzi added that Ustruck and he will hold discussions about club strategy, but the new Pride GM will have the autonomy to make decisions.
Ustruck has assisted in the club’s search for a new head coach to replace Tom Sermanni, who was fired on Sept. 14. He will also represent the Pride at the 2019 NWSL College Draft on Thursday in Chicago.