COLUMBIA, S.C. - Tony Annan has been named the head men’s soccer coach at the University of South Carolina, pending approval of the UofSC Board of Trustees, Athletics Director Ray Tanner announced Thursday. He becomes the second head coach in the history of Gamecock men’s soccer.
Annan (pronounced Ann-in) comes to Columbia after a six-year stint at Atlanta United of Major League Soccer. He was hired as the fifth employee in 2015 in the club’s young existence and built the development academy from scratch. Most recently, he was appointed to interim head coach for Atlanta United 2, the reserve team of MLS’s Atlanta United on July 27, 2020, and also serves as academy director.
“I’m excited to welcome Tony and his family to the University of South Carolina,” Tanner said. “Tony brings more than 20 years of experience in developing high-quality soccer players on and off the field. He knows what it takes to get young men to play at a championship level and I’m confident he will do the same here.”
As Atlanta United became the first MLS Academy to launch before its First Team, Annan oversaw one of the most successful seasons for any academy across the board during the 2016-17 United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) season. Serving as head coach of the U-17s, Annan won the club’s first piece of hardware, claiming the national championship in 2016. In addition, the U-19s also won the Southeast Division and finished the season as the No. 1 overall national seed.
Atlanta United’s academy has sustained success across all levels under his guidance as the U-19s and U-17s have combined to win four Southeast Division titles in addition to qualifying for the playoffs in each season. The U-14s won the 2019 Nexen Manchester City Cup, a 24-team tournament featuring clubs throughout the world where Atlanta defeated CF Monterrey 3-2 in the final. His academy teams have also won Generation adidas East Region qualifying twice.
A true developer of talent and skills, six of his players have gone on to sign professional deals after college and more than 80 of Annan’s former players have earned college scholarships. Ten of his players from Atlanta United have signed professional contracts during his tenure. 45 of his players have earned Youth National Team call ups with eight different countries represented.
Bringing 25 years of coaching experience with him to Stone Stadium, Annan is the only coach to complete the USSF Academy directors license and the FFF Elite formation license at the same time in 2017. In 2018, he became the youngest coach to be inducted into the Georgia Soccer Hall of Fame.
“I am honored and grateful to be named the next head coach at the University of South Carolina,” Annan said. “As a coach with 25 years of experience in player development, I am eager to take on this challenge. The priority will be to recruit and develop players both on and off the field in line with the traditions of the university.”
Annan was appointed Director at Concorde Fire in 1997 and quickly built up the program from 350 players to 2,400 by the time he left in 2005. Later that year, he was named executive director over Norcross Soccer with 600 players in the organization. By 2009, there were 1,600 players within the program and eventually oversaw the program’s growth to more than 6,800 players.
During this time, he also built Norcross Nike Cup, now known as the Generation adidas Cup. The tournament started with 180 teams and eventually grew to 640 in just five years as he managed 120 staff coaches.
In 2010, Annan helped form Georgia United, an alliance of four metro Atlanta club teams that joined together to share resources to allow them to provide a high-level training environment with excellent competition. Under his leadership, Georgia United finished as a semifinalist at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy national championship in 2014. It is the only time a non-MLS academy reached the semifinal game of the U.S. Development Academy Championship.
Annan showed his ability to coach all levels of soccer when as an assistant he helped the U.S. Soccer Men’s Paralympic Team qualify for the World Championships for the first time in 2015.
A native of Newcastle, England, Annan is joined in Columbia by his wife, Elizabeth, his son, Jax, and daughter, Ella. Annan started his playing career at West Bromwich Albion in 1991, a soccer club in England that currently competes in Premier League. He played his college soccer at Life University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in nutrition and dietetics in 1998.
What others are saying about Tony Annan: “By bringing Tony aboard at South Carolina, they are getting someone who not only has played at the highest level but also understands what it takes to be a successful coach at the highest level. His work ethic, professionalism, dedication to having players succeed on and off the pitch is truly inspiring! There is no doubt that South Carolina’s soccer program will be in great hands moving forward and I’m excited to see him take the program to the next level!” - Brad Guzan, Former South Carolina standout and current Atlanta United goalie
“Tony’s knowledge of the game and experiences with the Atlanta United Academy will aid him tremendously as he transitions into the college soccer space of recruiting top young talent while continuing their development both on and off the field. The University of South Carolina will greatly miss Mark Berson, but with the hiring of Tony there will be a strong desire to continue the high standards that have been established while instilling a clear playing style.” - Josh Wolff, Former South Carolina standout and Manager of Austin FC
“Tony is an excellent professional with a lot of knowledge and a lot of dedication. He is an ideal person to start a new project with young people from academies. I want to highlight his great job with all the staff at Atlanta United!” Gerardo Daniel “Tata” Martino, Manager of the Mexico National Team “Tony is a proven leader with success everywhere he has been. I couldn’t be more excited to have him lead the program forward.” - Tyler Ruthven, Former South Carolina standout and current scout with Atlanta United
“Tony is one of the best coaches in the country and has proven to be a top developer of both talent and character for many years. He is a great fit for the university and soccer program.” - Jimmy Maurer, Former South Carolina standout and current Dallas FC goalie
“Tony is an inspirational and extremely competent soccer professional (coach/teacher). His love for the essence of the game and his passion to help young players on their development are honorable and intrinsic qualities. Tony’s experience and successful career is sustained by great human values, transformational leadership and a special methodology. For sure, Tony will be of great value to the University of South Carolina.” - Jose Traveres, FC Porto Technical Director