MONTREAL â€” Eric Kronberg is not quite done as a goalkeeper, but the 33-year-old will begin the transition into coaching this season with the Montreal Impact.
Kronberg, who has backed up starting goalkeeper Evan Bush the last two seasons, signed a one-year contract Monday that will see him drop down to third on the club’s depth chart behind Bush and Maxime Crepeau, while also helping out Mauro Biello’s coaching staff.
“Max has done a great job,” Kronberg said in a telephone interview. “He’s ready, and I don’t really want to be number two any more.”
Kronberg would have loved to keep playing if he could land a job in Major League Soccer as a starter. But since that wasn’t likely to happen, Kronberg preferred to get started on his long-term goal to become a coach.
“I’m excited about it,” he said. “I’m beginning my transition.
“I want to continue to play, but I also want to help the team in other ways.”
In his new duties, he will train with the team and then coach the young players left behind when the Impact go on the road in all positions, not just goalies. He is unlikely to see any game action unless Bush or Crepeau suffer an injury.
Kronberg appeared in only five regular season games and six Amway Canadian Championship matches for Montreal over the last two seasons. He previously played eight seasons for Sporting Kansas City.
“Eric has settled in nicely over the last two years and expressed his desire to remain with the club,” technical director Adam Braz said in a statement. “He’s an experienced goalkeeper and a respected player in the locker-room.
“He will push our first two goalkeepers, Evan and Maxime, to excel throughout the next season.”
The change was unrelated to the Impact’s decision to promote Jack Stern to first team goalkeeping coach, replacing Youssef Dahha.
Stern, 29, worked the last two seasons with goalies on the club’s defunct USL team FC Montreal and also worked with its youth squads. The London native was goalkeeping coach in the academy of English Premier League club West Bromwich Albion from 2009 to 2014, starting as an intern at 21 before earning the full-time job in 2012.
“After analysing the season as a whole, we decided to take a different direction regarding our goalkeepers,” said Biello. “Jack brings a new perspective and tremendous experience to the team, both with the academy and abroad.”
“I am extremely honoured, proud and excited to start in my new role with the first team,” said Stern. “I have been with the club for three years now and in that time I have developed a great love for this city, this club, the fans and everyone involved in the organization.”
The Impact also confirmed that the rest of Biello’s staff will be back this season. Assistant coaches Jason DiTullio and Wilfried Nancy, fitness coach Yannick Girard, mental strength coach Antoine Guldner and video and data analyst Massimo Di Ioia will all return for the 2017 campaign.
They hope to find a new role for Dahha in the organization.
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press