Minnesota United FC have taken the first major steps of their post-Adrian Heath era by hiring Khaled El-Ahmad as sporting director and chief soccer officer, the club announced Wednesday, November 8.
El-Ahmad arrives from Barnsley FC, where he served as the CEO and sporting director of the English League One (third division) side since September 2021.
“Khaled is an outstanding fit for this role, and I am thrilled that he and his family made the decision to join our club,” Minnesota United CEO Shari Ballard said in a statement. “He has a tremendous background, a track record of success, exceptional technical vision, a leadership approach that matches our club values and beliefs, and an energy and focus about him that I personally love. We can’t wait to work with him as we begin the next chapter for Minnesota United.”
At Barnsley, El-Ahmad oversaw all aspects of the club’s sporting side, including direct oversight of technical strategy, roster construction and management, coaching hires and development, as well as the club’s business and commercial operations.
“I am excited to embark on this journey with Minnesota United in my new role as chief soccer officer and sporting director,” said El-Ahmad. “I would like to express my gratitude to everyone at Minnesota United for entrusting me with this opportunity. As we chart our course ahead, I am eagerly anticipating helping this club excel on the field and joining in the profoundly positive impact we can have on the community.
“From the very first conversation I had with Shari, it was clear that we share a deep connection in terms of our values, our vision for the club’s future, the significance of community involvement, and the upcoming chapter in Minnesota United’s history. However, above all else, I am most excited about the opportunity to engage with the fans. Your passion and support is of the highest level and I look forward to embarking on this journey with you.”
Prior to Barnsley, El-Ahmad served as the Concacaf and Scandinavia scouting lead for City Football Group from 2015-21, as well as supporting roster construction and recruitment for New York City FC. He also served as head of recruitment for Djurgården Elitfotboll AB of the Swedish Allsvenskan for four years.
Head coach search
At Minnesota United FC, El-Ahmad’s first major appointment would likely be a new head coach following Heath’s departure on Oct. 6. The club parted ways with technical director Mark Watson on the same day.
Heath and Watson had been at Minnesota since the club’s inaugural 2017 MLS season, guiding the Loons to a 91W-101L-56D record across all competitions and reaching the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs four-straight seasons prior to 2023. Interim head coach Sean McAuley oversaw the club’s final two games of the 2023 campaign.
This year, the Loons finished 11th in the Western Conference with 41 points (10W-13L-11D), missing the postseason and prompting an offseason reset.