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Chris Albright leaves Union to become FC Cincinnati’s general manager

After seven years in the Union's front office, Albright now has a chance to truly run his own team.

Chris Albright (right) was the Union's chief capologist, and helped bring international players including Marco Fabián (left) to the team.
Chris Albright (right) was the Union's chief capologist, and helped bring international players including Marco Fabián (left) to the team.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

After a few days of reports and rumors, Chris Albright’s departure from the Union to become FC Cincinnati’s new general manager became official on Monday. The move is effective immediately.

“I want to thank Chris for the ambition and passion he has brought to his role these past seven years,” Union principal owner Jay Sugarman said in a statement. “Chris was a leader in our locker room as a player and continued that leadership as a member of our technical staff. … He has our appreciation and good wishes as he takes this next step in his career.”

A 42-year-old Philadelphia native, Albright played for five MLS teams in his 14-year pro career, including the Union for the last two seasons. He also played 22 times for the U.S. national team and was on the 2006 World Cup squad.

After ending his playing career in 2013, Albright was hired to the Union’s front office as an assistant technical director, by then-CEO Nick Sakiewicz. A few months later, the “assistant” part of that title was removed.

When Sakiewicz was ousted in October 2015, Albright remained in the front office, becoming No. 2 under Earnie Stewart and then Ernst Tanner.

“Once it became clear that Philly was getting a team in 2009, it quickly became a dream of mine to be a part of this organization, and I’m extremely grateful for my time here,” Albright said. “It was the ultimate dream to bring a trophy [last year’s Supporters’ Shield] back to a city that has always been my home. While I look forward to this new chapter with great excitement, the Union will always be a part of me.”

» READ MORE: Why the Union’s big win over Columbus was a big deal in the MLS playoff race

His farewell message included a lengthy list of people he thanked, from the team’s owners down to the assistant coaches and locker room staff.

“To the Philly fans, thank you for letting us hear the good and the bad and always keeping us honest,” Albright said. “Most importantly, I’d like to thank my wife and kids for having the love and patience to continue on this soccer ride.”

Albright’s best work under Stewart and Tanner was done as the Union’s chief capologist. He also did some international scouting, helping to land players, including Marco Fabián. Now he will get a shot to truly run a team. He was also reportedly a candidate for the San Jose Earthquakes’ GM vacancy.

“Chris has been extremely focused and efficient in accomplishing the club’s goals and has set the standard high when it comes to securing players and managing the salary cap,” Tanner said. “He has an incredible grasp of the MLS roster rules and regulations that he introduced me to when I first arrived. I’m grateful for our collaboration over the last couple of seasons and wish him the best in Cincinnati.”

Albright was especially close with Union manager Jim Curtin, a contemporary on the playing field and fellow Philly-area native with whom he got to help run their hometown team.

“Chris will always be a friend first, but he is also an incredible colleague who was able to grow the Philadelphia Union into the club it is today,” Curtin said. “I know he’ll have the same success in Cincinnati as he starts this new challenge and wish him all the best.”

Albright in turn thanked Curtin “for being the steady hand that has guided our club for these past eight years. It’s been an honor to work alongside him in establishing a culture and continuing to set the bar higher every year.”

For all the kind words that were exchanged Monday, everyone knows how big a challenge Albright faces in his new job — and just not because the Union coincidentally play at Cincinnati on Saturday (8 p.m., PHL17). Cincinnati has been woeful for all three of its years in MLS, tallying the league’s worst record in 2019 and 2020 and heading that way again this year.

Albright will be the team’s third general manager in that span, and current interim manager Tyrone Marshall (Albright’s teammate on the LA Galaxy during their playing days) is the sixth bench boss — three full-time and three interim. Jaap Stam, the last full-time holder of the title, was fired at the end of last month. Cincinnati’s previous general manager, Gerard Nijkamp, was dismissed in early August.

The club’s roster includes former U.S. national team defender Geoff Cameron, former Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin, and Brazilian striker Brenner, who has seven goals in 26 games after being bought for $13 million from São Paulo in February.

» FROM OUR ARCHIVES: Haris Medunjanin’s lifelong journey through soccer took him from war in Bosnia to peace in Philadelphia