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Three former head coaches form revamped Ocean City Nor'easters front office

Tim Oswald, John Thompson, Neil Holloway all return to Ocean City to launch new era

Three former head coaches form revamped Ocean City Nor'easters front office

Three men who have been a part of making the Ocean City Nor’easters one of the most successful clubs in USL League Two history are returning to join forces in the club’s front office.

After a brief hiatus, Tim Oswald will revive his role as Sporting Director, while John Thompson and Neil Holloway will both return to the club they both played for and coached. Thompson has been hired as the Nor’easters’ Technical Director and Holloway will be the club’s new Vice President of Soccer Operations.

Out of the Nor’easters’ 17 seasons in the league, between Oswald, Thompson and Holloway, at least one of them have been a part of the Nor’easters either as a player, coach, or a member of the front office. And now they will be working together with newly-hired head coach Alan McCann with the goal of bringing a national championship to Ocean City.

The 2021 season will mark the 24th season as a club, but the 18th as a member of USL League Two. During the previous 17 years in USL-2, the Nor’easters have established themselves as one of the top clubs in North America. Ocean CIty ranks 7th in all-time wins, and the sixth-best record since joining the league in 2003. In those 17 seasons, at least one of the three members of the Nor’easters’ new-look front office was part of the team either as a player, a head coach, an assistant coach, a general manager or as a sporting director.

"To have a staff filled with this much experience is unique so it's an exciting prospect and one I'm really looking forward to getting started with," said Alan McCann, who was announced as the ninth head coach in club history last week.

For Nor'easters owner and president John Granese, he has watched all three of these men grow as players and coaches and executives and it was an easy decision to bring them all back to work together to continue

"As the owner of the Nor'easters I'm very excited for the 2021 season, especially after losing the 2020 season due to the pandemic," said Granese, who spearheaded the effort to work together with the city of Ocean City to give the Nor'easters a permanent home at America's Greatest Family Resort beginning in 2005. "I think this the best group of coaches and management we have ever put toghter since the franchise was  established in 1997. Everything lined up just right and I want to thank all the principles involved."

Tim Oswald - Sporting Director

Oswald will re-join the Nor’easters after stepping away from the club in 2019. As sporting director, Oswald’s goal is to develop and enhance the overall vision, philosophy, culture and strategy required for long term success. Part of the job also included being part of the team that navigated the coaching search that ultimately led to the hiring of two-time reigning USL-2 Coach of the Year Alan McCann.

Tim Oswald was the Nor'easters' head coach for five seasons, leading the club to a pair of Mid-Atlantic Division titles (2012, 2013), two Eastern Conference championships (2013, 2016), reaching the National Semifinals in both seasons.

“We wanted to find a head coach like Alan McCann that was going to deliver on the pitch while giving him the tools to excel within the framework of the club and create a championship environment,” said Oswald. “We will continue to evaluate our player development and professional pathway model, but further accelerate that during the identification and recruiting process and push it to a whole new level. Each year we will be stocked with players ready to sign pro contracts which should assist us in strengthening our relationships with both college programs and professional clubs at every level as a result.”

Oswald was the Nor'easters' head coach for five seasons and finished as the club's all-time leader in USL League Two victories with a 47-19-6 record. He led the club to a pair of Mid-Atlantic Division titles (2012, 2013), two Eastern Conference championships (2013, 2016), reaching the National Semifinals in both seasons. Oswald was also a finalist for the USL-2 Coach of the Year award in 2012.

Tim Oswald poses for a photo with his daughter Karley. Photo: Oswald family

Oswald also led Ocean City to a pair of appearances in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2013, 2014). In 2013, the Nor'easters earned the club's fifth all-time upset of a professional team as they knocked off the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL before narrowly falling to the Philadelphia Union of MLS at PPL Park in the Third Round.

During Oswald’s five years with the Nor'easters, 49 of his former players have moved on to play the game at the professional level both domestically and overseas, including 11 players who were selected in the MLS SuperDraft. Among those players, he also coached Chevaughn “Chevy” Walsh who tied for the league scoring title and won the USL-2 MVP award.

The Philadelphia native is also the head coach of the Rutgers University-Camden (RUC) men’s soccer team. During his time at RUC since 2006, he has broken the school record for wins, led the Raptors to four conference championships, five NCAA tournament appearances, and a run to the NCAA Division III national championship game in 2013. The 2013 NSCAA Division III National Coach of the Year has led RUC to a pair of national Top 5 finishes and is one of the winningest college coaches in the country. Oswald played his college ball and earned his bachelor's degree at Elizabethtown College where he played for legendary head coach (and current Nor'easters assistant coach) Skip Roderick. He later earned a master's degree at Widener University.

“I am excited to get to work with the exceptional staff we have assembled,” added Oswald. “We want a team and a model franchise that Ocean City and USL League Two is truly proud of and we are committed to doing that.”

John Thompson - Technical Director

John Thompson has done it all during his years with the Ocean City Nor’easters. He’s helped them win games on the field, and he’s been an assistant and a head coach helping the team win games from the sideline. Now he returns to Ocean City as the club’s technical director.

John Thompson, who was a two-time All-League selection and 2004 Defender of the Year during his four seasons as a player for Ocean City, later became the Nor'easters head coach from 2017-18.

The role of the technical director is to advise, support and oversee all playing and coaching staff within the club as well as implementing the club philosophy and playing style across the entire club, from the reserve teams through the senior USL League Two team. The technical director also manages and oversees the day-to-day activities and act as a liaison between the playing staff, the coaching staff and the ownership.

"It's exciting to have three former head coaches who have done so much to build the club’s great history over the nearly quarter century working together,” said Thompson. “When passionate football people work toward the same goal, great things can happen.”

John Thompson (right), poses with Lee Cohen and Neil Holloway (left) after Ocean City won the 2008 PDL Organization of the Year award.

Thompson has played a number of roles during his more than 20 years with the Ocean City organization. Most recently, he was the head coach for two seasons in 2017 and 2018. He finished with an 18-9-1 record in league play while also leading the team in two runs in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. In US Open Cup play, Thompson led the Nor'easters to three wins, including a road win over the Charlotte Independence, a pro team in the United Soccer League (USL). Only one coach in team history (current Nor'easters Sporting Director Tim Oswald) has more wins in his first two years in club history.

Before joining the club, Thompson, a native of Penrith, England, played his college ball at Lewis University (NCAA Division II) where he became just the 40th player in NCAA history to be named a First-Team All-American three times. After college, he played for the Ocean City Nor’easters from 2002-06 and was a part of the club’s final year as a professional franchise in the D-3 Pro League (2002).

When the club, then known as the South Jersey Barons, transitioned to the Premier Development League (now known as USL League Two) the following year, Thompson stayed and helped lay the defensive foundation that led the club to four successful campaigns, including a rare undefeated regular season in 2004 (14-0-4). He was named to the All-PDL team in 2004 and 2005 and remains the only player in club history to be named the PDL Defender of the Year (2004). In the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, he helped the team shut out the Long Island Rough Riders (then a professional team), 4-0 in 2005.

Thompson finished his playing career with Ocean City ranked third in club history in minutes played (5,650) and fifth in games played (63). After hanging up his boots to focus on coaching after the 2006 season, Thompson was an assistant coach with the PDL team and a youth coach from 2007-09. During that time, the club upset three more professional teams and lost a narrow game to D.C. United (MLS) in 2009. Ocean City also reached the league playoffs twice (2007, 2009) and reached the national quarterfinals in 2009.

“We are excited for the 2021 season with Alan [McCann], Shane [Keely] and Skip [Roderick] leading what is shaping up to be a great looking football team,” added Thompson. “We are here to support them with whatever they need to bring some silverware to Ocean City.”

Neil Holloway - Vice President of Soccer Operations

Much like his long-time friend and former teammate John Thompson, Neil Holloway has been a part of the Nor’easters organization since 2002 when the club was part of the D-3 Pro League and then formed the foundation of the club’s early success after joining USL League Two in 2003.

Neil Holloway (3rd from left) celebrates the Ocean City Nor'easters' 2013 PDL Eastern Conference championship with head coach Tim Oswald (3rd from right), and owner John Granese (2nd from right), along with assistant coaches Kevin Nuss (far left), Christos Economopoulos (2nd from left) and Director of Operations Dan Ash (far right)

Holloway has been a part of the club as a player, a head coach, an assistant coach, a general manager and sometimes two or more of those positions at the same time. Now, after working behind the scenes in recent years, he can add Vice President of Soccer Operations to his lengthy soccer resume.

Holloway was ready to jump back into a coaching role for the 2020 season, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of the season. As Vice President of Soccer Operations, Holloway’s new role will see him working as a liaison between ownership and the technical staff led by new head coach Alan McCann. The job also involves overseeing some elements of the club’s business operations.

“We have used this COVID-19 pandemic and the time away from the field to re-evaluate the club,” said Holloway, who was named the USL League Two Executive of the Year in 2007, in addition to the club’s winning Organization of the Year in 2008. “I was happy to be able to formalize the roles of Tomo [John Thompson] and Oz [Tim Oswald], and in turn, we delivered a top head coach to the club for the Granese family and our fans.”

Neil Holloway (right), shown here playing against the Vermont Voltage on May 29, 2004, was an All-League selection as part of the South Jersey Barons' historic undefeated regular season. Photo: Mark Fletcher

After finishing as the team’s second-leading scorer in 2002, Holloway followed the club into the USL League Two era of the club in 2003 where he continued to be a force in the midfield. Along with Thompson, he was a part of the club’s historic undefeated regular season in 2004 and was an All-League and All-Conference selection. In 2005, he took over as the team’s head coach and general manager, while still contributing on the field as a player/coach.

After the 2006, Holloway stepped down to focus on his role as general manager, but remained on the sidelines  as an assistant coach to newly-hired head coach Mike Pellegrino. Holloway would hang up his boots after the 2007 season, but would later make a brief appearance in a emergency situation during the 2011 season. He finished his playing career ranked 7th in games played (47), 8th in minutes played (3,438), and tied for 10th in goals scored (10).

Holloway would return to the sidelines as head coach in 2009, while also maintaining his general manager duties before stepping down after the 2011 season to make way for the hiring of Tim Oswald.

As a head coach, he still ranks second in club history in USL-2 coaching wins (34-23-23) behind the aforementioned Tim Oswald (47-19-6). As a head coach, the also helped the club win two US Open Cup matches, including a 4-0 win over pro side Long Island Rough Riders. As an assistant coach, Holloway helped lead the Nor’easters to another pro team upset by defeating Crystal Palace Baltimore 1-0 in 2007. In his second head coaching stint beginning in 2009, he guided the team to two more pro team upsets (Crystal Palace Baltimore, Real Maryland Monarchs) before falling to D.C. United (MLS) in a tight game in Round 3.

In his seven seasons as general manager (2005-11), Holloway had 23 players move on to play professionally.

Now, after more than a decade as a player, coach and GM, Holloway is returning to the club to help lead a new era with the Ocean City Nor’easters.

“I’m happy to be a part of what promises to be an exciting next chapter in the club’s history.”

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