As a first-year head coach, you can’t do much better than Alan McCann has at Reading United this season.
The Philadelphia Union Premier Development League affiliate was unbeaten in 14 regular season games, drew a pair of U.S. Open Cup matches (losing the second one on penalties) and has won three playoff games en route to the club’s first ever PDL championship final on Saturday night at Wilson High School.
McCann’s peers in the 74-team league have taken notice, voting him the league’s Coach of the Year. A native of Dublin, Ireland, McCann is a former Reading United player who took over for another former player in Stephen Hogan when he was promoted within the Union organization earlier this year after serving as his assistant.
“Alan is a shining example of the other side of development that the PDL stands for-developing coaches,” Reading United Vice-President Art Auchenbach shared in a statement, noting that McCann is the latest in a line of former players like Archie Moylan, Eric Puls, Brendan Burke and Stephen Hogan to start their coaching careers in Reading.
“This award is a nod to our coaching history and the foundation of Reading United’s success that has been set by Brendan and Stephen, as much as it’s a well deserved honor to recognize Alan’s fantastic accomplishments in this magical 2018 season.” Auchenbach added.
Reading United is no stranger to success, but McCann has guided the team to their most successful season yet, beginning with a penalty shootout victory in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup over Christos FC in his first match at the helm. The team won the Mid-Atlantic Division title for the fifth time in club history with a 14-0-2 record and has made the most of the three home playoff games that record has secured.
He’s done that with a mix of returners like captain and fellow countryman Aaron Molloy, the league’s top prospect this season, all-time leading goal scorer Khori Bennett and standout Philadelphia Union Academy grads like defender Lamine Conte, midfielder Zach Zandi and first-year player Kalil ElMedkhar.
“Alan’s been unreal,” Molloy said after the semifinal win Saturday night. “Alan has every single player bought into the system and the way Reading wants to play.”
Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke, who twice led the team to the national semifinal as head coach, said McCann has exceeded expectations.
“We knew he was passionate about the team and club and that he would bring the energy needed to drive the team all summer but he has exceeded everyone’s expectations in navigating the league and post season and deserves full credit for bringing the national title game to Reading for the first time,” Burke said.