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Huntsville City FC adds international flavor to staff as ‘Blastoff Battle Invitational’ nears

HUNTSVILLE – Just ahead of the preseason opener, Huntsville City Football Club announced administrative and coaching staff changes with two of the additions originally from the United Kingdom.

Matt Cairns has been appointed the club’s director of Soccer Operations. Cairns fills the position left by Liam Doyle, who joins parent club Nashville SC as director of Soccer. Huntsville City FC also announced the addition of Christophe Berra, Zachary Herold and Fabio Hernandez to the coaching staff.

“Matt has a tremendous amount of experience in the professional soccer landscape, both in the U.S. and abroad,” said Mike Jacobs, Nashville SC and Huntsville City FC general manager. “He is somebody I’ve always admired and wanted to work with, and we are excited to add him to our club.” 

Cairns joins Huntsville City FC after spending the last five years as the director of Soccer for Topnotch Management in Minneapolis, Minn., where he represented players across Major League Soccer and the USL Championship. Cairns was born and raised in St. Albans, England, and graduated from the University of Portsmouth in 2013. After graduation, Cairns worked as a licensed agent and intermediary at Skylet Andrew and MLC Sport before joining Topnotch Management.

“I am thrilled to be joining Huntsville City FC and the Nashville SC organization,’’ Cairns said. “Huntsville is an incredibly exciting and thriving soccer market and I can’t wait to build on the club’s inaugural season success. The state of Alabama is no stranger to sporting success, and I will be working every day to bring them another champion.”

Head Coach Jack Collison welcomes the addition of Berra and Herold as assistant coaches and Hernandez as goalkeeper coach.

“These are great hires whose experience and character will provide immediate impact for our club both on and off the field,” Collison said. “Bringing in coaches of this caliber underscores the commitment made by our group to empower leaders on the pitch who are good soccer minds and great people dedicated to building our program and moving our team forward in a positive direction.” 

Coaching assistants:

  • Berra joins Huntsville from the Scottish Premiership where he was a first-team coach for Livingston FC. Before that, Berra made 560 appearances across Scotland’s and England’s Premier Leagues with childhood club Heart of Midlothian and Wolverhampton Wanderers, respectively. Berra also played with Ipswich Town before returning to Heart of Midlothian and finally finishing his career as a player-coach for Raith Rovers in Scotland. Internationally, Berra was capped 41 times by Scotland, scoring four goals.

“My family and I are excited to be moving over from Scotland to join Huntsville City Football Club,” he said. “The club has everything in place to be successful on and off the pitch and I can’t wait to get started and the season to kick off.”

  • Herold, a former Generation adidas player from Port St. Lucie, Fla., joins Huntsville from the Atlanta United FC Academy where he coached with Collison. As a player, Herald was drafted by Toronto FC in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft but was diagnosed with a heart condition that forced the end of his playing career. Herald, who represented the United States in the 2009 U-17 FIFA World Cup, immediately launched his coaching career and spent six years working with the New York Red Bulls Academy before moving to Atlanta.

“I am extremely excited to be joining Huntsville City FC this upcoming season and look forward to building on last year’s success,” he said.

  • Hernandez – He joins Huntsville from Chattanooga Red Wolves of the USL League One where he has served as a goalkeeper coach since 2022.

“I am very excited to get the season started with the club,” he said. “I am looking forward to seeing the Wicks Family Field at Joe Davis packed week in and week out.”

Joining Collison and the new hires on the technical staff for the 2024 season will be analyst Matt Batista, athletic trainer Luis Rodas, performance coach Josh Stewart, team administrator Caylor Feltman, and equipment manager Tanner Smoot.

The first chance to see Huntsville City FC in 2024 is the inaugural “Huntsville City FC Blastoff Battle Invitational” on Feb. 16–18, 2024 at Wicks Family Field at Joe Davis Stadium. For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Huntsville City FC 2024 season tickets are now on sale to the public by visiting MLSNextPro.com/HuntsvilleCityFC/Tickets or by calling 256-864-6426, ext. 2.

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