Huntsville City FC announce the departure of head coach Jack Collison

Huntsville City FC announced the departure of head coach Jack Collison on Tuesday. The surprise move comes just two days after Huntsville’s 2-1 loss to Inter Miami CF II in Ft. Lauderdale. From the press release:

Huntsville City Football Club announced today the departure of Jack Collison as head coach, and the appointment, effective immediately, of Assistant Coach Christophe Berra as interim Head Coach for the remainder of the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season.

The club would like to express its gratitude to Collison for his effort to the team’s development and wishes him the best in his future endeavors.

Collison was appointed as the club’s first Head Coach on January 18, 2023, bringing extensive experience from his playing days in the English Premier League and coaching roles, including a significant stint with Atlanta United FC 2. During his tenure with Huntsville City FC in MLS NEXT Pro, Jack Collison led the team through 32 games, achieving 9 wins, 14 losses, and 9 draws.

Berra, a seasoned professional with over 560 appearances in Scotland’s and England’s Premier Leagues, brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the role, including his 41 caps for Scotland’s National Team. Berra transitioned into coaching in 2022, most recently serving as a first-team coach for Livingston FC in the Scottish Premiership.

Through four matches in 2024, Huntsville City are in 12th place in the Eastern Conference with two draws and two losses. Across Collison’s 32 matches in charge, Huntsville were 22nd in MLS NEXT Pro with 1.13 points per match, despite accumulating the sixth-most expected points in that stretch, per American Soccer Analysis.

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Under Collison, Huntsville had the second-most goals added (also per ASA), allowing the sixth-fewest during that time. There’s an argument to be made that Huntsville significantly underperformed, failing to consistently earn results despite some of the better performances in MLS NEXT Pro.

In a positive shift this season, Collison and Huntsville have significantly prioritized minutes for Nashville academy players. Through four matches, academy products made 19 appearances, with Collison handing 15 starts and 29.6% of Huntsville’s total minutes to young players. For a team whose primary (some would say only) responsibility is to develop players for the first team, it’s a positive trend.

With Collison departed, Christophe Berra takes over on an interim basis for the rest of 2024. The 39-year-old former Scotland international had an extensive playing career in England and Scotland, including over 150 appearances for Wolverhampton Wanderers and nearly 200 for Ipswich Town. In all, Berra made 650 appearances in a 20-year career, with an additional 41 caps for the Scottish national team.

Berra had been brought on as Collison’s assistant before the 2024 season, part of a widespread restructuring of Huntsville’s front office and technical staff. It remains to be seen if and how Berra will change Huntsville’s approach, although their emphasis on giving minutes to young players seems to be an organizational shift that is here to stay.

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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