Pittsburgh City United FC and its owner, Michael Monsour made a splash when they named former Scottish player and coach Barry Smith as its first-ever coach earlier in the summer ahead of its inaugural season.
Since that time, Smith has been unable to leave Europe due to COVID-19 travel ban. Current US restrictions do not allow British nationals, who have been in the UK in the last 14 days, entry to the country.
That means Smith, who made 368 appearances for Dundee, is unable to enter the States to join up with City United.
The club has proceeded on with its first season, as Monsour, who doesn’t have any notable coaching experience, decided to take it upon himself to serve as the team’s interim coach.
Going a step further, Monsour stated this week that Smith has agreed to join City United’s ownership team “to secure the organizational leadership necessary to continue our progression and to further advance our legitimacy even under these difficult times.”
So, it doesn’t appear that Smith will be in Pittsburgh anytime soon.
Boasting a young roster with numerous players from far and wide, with only a few from the Pittsburgh area, the players have been inspired by Monsour’s enthusiasm and the club’s mission-driven initiatives.
City United started off strong in United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) play in the Northeast Conference’s Rust Belt Division with two wins, including a 2-0 home debut at Highmark Stadium on August 29.
Last Saturday, they suffered their first defeat, losing 3-1, to Sure Sports (MD).
Earlier this week, the club released the following statement from Monsour regarding Smith’s status with the club.
Here’s the full statement:
I wanted to take this time to update our supporters on the current status of Coach Smith in regards to his delayed arrival to the US as manager of our club as well as make an official announcement as to the Coach Smith’s future with Pittsburgh City United FC beyond the 2021 Fall Season.
As the world faces yet again, the uncertainty of a second potential shut down due to the covid variant, our club has continued to maintain our foundational focus towards spreading awareness and financial support for the Alzheimer’s Association especially during these difficult times.
This foundation for our club is one that both myself and Coach Smith hold to the highest regard. A foundation that will not be deterred by the economic impact of a potential shut down.
It was without question a shock for everyone in the football world, a few months ago when a small division 4 team out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania would become a choice destination for a Head Coach of Barry Smith’s European caliber.
Since signing with our club he has never wavered that level of support and trust in our mission to make a difference on and off the pitch. Although some realities of our current climate can not be ignored and have had an effect on Coach Smith’s arrival to the city of Pittsburgh.
The travel ban the US has on the UK, as well as the increased cost and timeline for visa approval has been very difficult to navigate past in regards to facilitating Coach Smith’s passage into the United States.
As anyone who has ever known, played for, or worked with, would agree, Coach Barry Smith is a man of impeccable character and genuine humility, two factors that make him the player, manager, and person he is today and the perfect person to lead this club moving forward.
We can not control our current environment and the uncertainty as to when Coach Smith will be able to join us, should not deter from the historic impact our club has already made and will continue to make this season and beyond.
Because of this, Coach Barry Smith has agreed to join our ownership team to secure the organizational leadership necessary to continue our progression and to further advance our legitimacy even under these difficult times.
It is important for our supporters and our players to know that Coach Smith wants very much to be here and we very much want to have him here as soon as we are able, but it is also important for us that Coach Smith is not held in limbo during a time where he could be utilizing his incredible leadership skills at another club in Europe.
Securing Coach Smith within our ownership team had always felt like the right choice for our organization’s future. His advisement on all aspects relating to our team’s competitive focus, as well as our future expansion objectives in the US and abroad is essential.
As the acting Interim Manager I have spoken to Coach Smith and the players recently about continuing in this role until after the 2nd Round Qualifiers of the US Open Cup, from which I will meet again with the players and Coach Smith to determine if staying on to finish the season is in the best interest of the team for the 2021 season.
Thank you for your time and continued support.
PCUFC return to action this Saturday, as they’ll be hosting Western Ville (MD), at UPMC Graham Field in Wilkinsburg. The match will kickoff at 6:30 p.m.
Look for our match preview on Saturday.