David Beckham’s yet-to-be-named Miami Major League Soccer team is on the verge of hiring Atlanta United Vice President Paul McDonough as its General Manager. According to team sources, managing owner Jorge Mas spent Friday in final negotiations with McDonough, ironing out details of the contract.
Seattle Sounders Vice President of Soccer Chris Henderson, the former U.S. national team and Miami Fusion player, was one of the other leading candidates. Henderson is considered one of the league’s rising executives and interviewed with Beckham’s partners in recent weeks.
McDonough has been a huge part of Atlanta’s success on and off the field.
Atlanta United sits atop the MLS standings and leads the league in attendance with 52,409 fans per game. Last week, Atlanta drew a record crowd of 72,243 for its game last against the Seattle Sounders, who rank second in the league with 40,567 per game. The average league attendance is 21,467.
McDonough has been with Atlanta for two and a half years, hired away from then-expansion team Orlando City, where he was Vice President of Soccer Operations. Upon arriving in Atlanta, he oversaw the construction of a $60 million state-of-the-art training facility and helped build a roster made of young talent rather than players at the twilight of their careers.
Players such as Paraguayan midfielder Miguel Almiron and Venezuelan forward Josef Martinez have been at the heart of Atlanta’s success and McDonough was instrumental in their signings.
Almiron, 24, has been the target of a few English Premier League teams this off-season. Martinez, 25, was named Best XI for the 2017 season after finishing fourth in the league in scoring despite playing only 20 games due to injury. On June 2, 2018, Martinez scored his fifth MLS hat trick, the quickest any player in the league ever reached that milestone.
Last season, Atlanta United was the first expansion team since Seattle in 2009 to make the playoffs in its first season.
McDonough signed a four-year contract extension last October that would take him through March 2022, but he is expected to accept Miami’s offer.
“I’m thrilled we have been able to secure Paul for the foreseeable future and look forward to building upon the strong foundation we have already assembled,” Atlanta Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said when McDonough signed the extension. “Paul’s broad skill set and experience has been vital in helping us establish and widen our scouting network, manage and strategize player salary cap restrictions, as well as operating our state-of-the-art training facility. His knowledge of the league and the soccer landscape in America has been a key contributor to the success of Atlanta United, both on and off the field.”
Prior to joining MLS, McDonough spent two years as Director, Global Soccer with Wasserman Media Group where he represented players in MLS and overseas. Among the players he represented: Juan Agudelo (US International), Darren Mattocks (Jamaican International), Brek Shea (US International), Teal Bunbury (US International), Zach Loyd (US International), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), and Dax McCarty (NY Red Bulls).
Before that, he was an assistant coach at Wake Forest University, University of South Carolina and the University of Connecticut. He is a native of Marshfield, Mass.
His experience as a coach, player agent and director of soccer operations gives him a rare skillset that has helped build Orlando City and Atlanta United on and off the field. He has a vast scouting network, and understands the intricacies of the MLS business model, salary cap issues and day-to-day soccer business.
Mas said the team name, colors and shield will be unveiled in the coming weeks. Inter Miami and Atletico Miami are the leading candidates for team name.