Preki resigns from Sacramento; linked to EPL job with Leicester City
Former MLS and U.S. men's national team star Predrag Radosavjlevic, better known as Preki, has resigned as manager of USL's Sacramento Republic FC and is rumored to be up for a position at EPL club Leicester City.
The 2007 MLS Coach of the Year has been in charge of Sacramento Republic since 2013, but he resigned in a press conference on Wednesday. In its press release announcing Preki's departure, the club said he had accepted a position in the UK, while Preki himself refused to divulge many details beyond what was said in the club's release.
"This was not a decision I made lightly," Preki said. "The opportunity ahead is a lifetime dream for me and a chance to challenge myself at the highest level of the game."
Not too long before the surprise announcement in California's capital, English bookmakers slashed odds dramatically on his likelihood to become Leicester City's new manager, with Sky Bet listing him as a 3/1 favorite to take over. However, Sky Sports' Rob Dorsett reported later that someone close to Preki would be "very surprised" if he were to be named manager. Leicester City did not immediately respond to requests for comment from SI.com.
If Preki did land that job, he would become the first American to hold such a position in the history of the English Premier League.
The club, which avoided relegation after an impressive winning run to end the season, parted ways with manager Nigel Pearson due to a breakdown in relations with the club's board. Weeks earlier, Pearson's son was among a group of Leicester City players terminated after video emerged of the players participating in a racially abusive orgy.
Preki has enjoyed a distinguished career at all levels of American soccer as a player and coach since first emigrating to the country in 1985. After a brief career with Red Star Belgrade, Preki made a name for himself in the U.S. indoor soccer leagues, amassing 247 appearances and scoring 209 goals with the Tacoma Stars of the original Major Indoor Soccer League.
Preki then enjoyed stints with Premier League sides Everton and Portsmouth before joining the Kansas City Wiz (now Sporting Kansas City) on the team's inaugural roster in the first season of MLS in 1996. It was there that Preki stayed, outside of a one-season stint with the now-defunct Miami Fusion, until his retirement from the game at the age of 42. In his MLS career, Preki made 242 appearances, scored 79 goals, and won the 1997 and 2003 MLS MVP awards—he remains the only player to win the award twice.
During his playing career, Preki became an American citizen, and represented the United States at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. In all, he made 28 appearances with the national team, scoring four goals, the most famous of which came in a 1-0 win over Brazil at the 1998 Gold Cup.
After his retirement he joined Bob Bradley's coaching staff at Chivas USA, then took over the head job in 2007, leading the team to its best season and winning the MLS Coach of the Year award. He then moved to Toronto FC, where he was fired in 2010 after less than a season in charge. After an extended hiatus from coaching, he led Sacramento Republic to the 2014 USL championship in the team's inaugural season.