TORONTO — After being No. 2 with the Ottawa Fury, Calgary Foothills FC and Cavalry FC, Martin Nash is getting the chance to run his own show with York United FC.
The former Canadian international is leaving Calgary-based Cavalry, where he was first-team coach and technical director under head coach/GM Tommy Wheeldon Jr., to succeed Jim Brennan as York coach. York opted last month not to renew the contract of Brennan, who doubled as head coach and technical director of the Toronto-area Canadian Premier League club.
The move came two days after a young York side lost 3-1 to defending champion Forge FC in the CPL semifinals.
Nash, the younger brother of Canadian basketball icon and current Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash, has signed a two-year deal with an option for another year.
"We had a huge number of applications from all parts of the globe, which really speaks to where this league is going and the interest it's generating," Angus McNab, York's CEO, president and GM, told reporters.
The youngest team in the league, York finished fourth with an 8-8-12 record last season but won only one of its last nine games (1-4-4) including the playoff defeat.
"I think this squad's full of dynamic, talented young players and it's got a nice combination of some veteran players that I think are key to the success of the team," said Nash. "But there are very athletic, technical players in all positions."
"Moving forward they had a taste of success this year. And I think it can even be better moving forward with this group."
Max Ferrari, Isaiah Johnston, Cedric Toussaint and Lowell Wright lead the crop of young talent on a team whose under-21 players totalled 9,043 minutes in 2021 Last week York added 18-year-old striker Mamadou Kane, a Canadian youth international.
Work on the roster continues.
"We're pretty well advanced. We are finalizing some things with our international recruitment," said McNab.
Nash said assistant coach Camilo Benzi is staying on. He has held talks with assistant Paul Stalteri, who won 84 caps for Canada, and hopes he too will stick with York.
"We'll see where that goes," said Nash. "Paul's a guy who's going to have a lot of opportunity, a lot of options. He's a great coach."
The 45-year-old Nash made 38 appearances for Canada from 1997 to 2008.
A midfielder, he played club football in England with Stockport County, Chester City and Macclesfield Town. He played in North America for the Vancouver 86ers and Whitecaps, Montreal Impact and Rochester Raging Rhinos as well as indoor stints with the Edmonton Drillers and Dallas Sidekicks.
He subsequently served as assistant coach and assistant GM with the now-defunct Ottawa Fury and was a staff coach with the Vancouver Whitecaps. He was an assistant coach with the Foothills FC PDL team in Calgary before joining Cavalry in 2018.
"I've been on the path to becoming a head coach for quite a while now. I've always wanted to be a head coach," Nash said.
"When this opportunity came to be and I saw the talent of the players in this group, I thought it was just the right time for me to take that leap and take charge of my own team," he added.
He promised his squad will play "front-foot football," joining fellow CPL sides like champion Pacific FC, Forge FC and Cavalry.
"They all take the game to teams and don't sit back" he said.
Brennan, who joined York in July 2018, signed a contract extension in May 2020 that ran through 2021, with a club option for 2022. The club had until the end of this month to trigger that option.
York finished third, fifth and fourth in the regular season under Brennan, who had coached the franchise since its inception.
The club, which plays at York University's York Lions Stadium, rebranded last season to York United FC from York 9 FC.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 21, 2021
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press