UConn men’s soccer announces hiring of Chris Gbandi as head coach
STORRS, Conn. – Former University of Connecticut men’s soccer star Chris Gbandi, who won the 2000 Hermann Trophy and led the Huskies to their third NCAA National Championship that season, will serve as UConn’s next head men’s soccer coach, as announced by director of athletics David Benedict. Gbandi becomes the ninth head coach in program history, and the third since 1969.
The appointment is pending a successful completion of the University onboarding process.
Gbandi returns to UConn following a six-year stint as head men’s soccer coach at Northeastern and led NU to an 11-6-2 overall record during the 2021 season. The 11 wins marked the fifth-most victories in program history and the No. 2 seed earned by the team in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship was tied for a program best.
“Chris Gbandi is one of the finest players in the history of our soccer program,” Benedict said. “But that ability pales in comparison to his caliber as a person and leader of young men. Our men’s soccer program is rich in tradition, and a source of pride for our university community and the state of Connecticut. UConn soccer is equipped for success and Chris is the right man to lead us into a bright future.
“Chris has achieved everything as a player that the young men on our current team, as well as prospects we will recruit in the future, want to accomplish. His ability to relate and communicate what it takes to achieve these levels of success will provide him a unique ability to hold individuals accountable to a standard that will translate to team and individual success. Finally, Chris is a Husky. He bleeds Blue! I am confident that nobody will work harder than Chris to see that UConn men’s soccer is competing at the elite level we have come to expect from this program.”
During the 2021 season, four Huskies finished the season in the top-10 on the CAA goals scored list and the three student-athletes that landed on the CAA All-Rookie Team marked a league high. Gbandi led Northeastern to a CAA Tournament berth in three out of the last four years, after taking over a program that posted a 3-12-2 record in 2015.
Gbandi brings 11-years of coaching experience to Storrs and was the associate head coach at Dartmouth from 2014-16, an assistant coach at Holy Cross from 2012-14, and served on Ray Reid‘s staff at UConn from 2011-12. His teams posted a 58-33-10 record during his tenure as an assistant coach.
“My family and I would like to thank David Benedict and the search committee for putting their trust in me to lead this legendary program,” Gbandi said. “This is certainly a dream come true for me to be given the opportunity to return to my alma mater and to build upon the legacy that my mentor Ray Reid has established. UConn soccer has a rich history of success, and my goal is to recruit and develop the best student-athletes at a world class institution that will ultimately bring another National Championship to Storrs.”
During his coaching career, Gbandi has helped lead his teams to three NCAA Tournament appearances, including a 2011 appearance with UConn. Additionally, Gbandi has coached two NSCAA-All Americans, one NSCAA-All Atlantic Region Team player, and 10 All-Conference Team honorees.
Prior to his coaching tenure, Gbandi was a highly decorated player. The first overall pick in the 2002 MLS super draft, he played eight years professionally for FC Dallas, Miami FC, and the FK Haugesund of the Norwegian Division. Gbandi also made an appearance for the Liberian National team in 2004 and was awarded FC Dallas Defender of the Year in 2006.
Prior to his professional and coaching career, Gbandi was a key member of the UConn men’s soccer team from 1998-2001. A four-year letterman, Gbandi helped lead UConn to four straight Big East Regular Season titles. He also led UConn to the 1999 Big East tournament title and brought home UConn’s most recent NCAA Championship in 2000. Individual achievements include 1998 Big East Rookie of the Year, three-time Big East Defender of the Year, four Big East First Team selections, and three All-America selections. He was the Hermann trophy recipient as college soccer’s top male player in 2000 and a finalist for the prestigious honor in 1999 and 2001.