Minnesota United hires Barnsley chief exec Khaled El-Ahmad as sporting director

Minnesota United has hired Barnsley chief executive Khaled El-Ahmad as its new sporting director.

El-Ahmad, 42, has been a candidate for multiple recent MLS openings, but is now set to head the front office in Minnesota, multiple sources briefed on the decision said. 

El-Ahmad was previously the lead CONCACAF scout for City Football Group, playing a role in Manchester City’s signings of goalkeeper Zack Steffen from Columbus Crew and Sporting Kansas City homegrown Erik Palmer-Brown. El-Ahmad also has experience in MLS as he served as a lead in recruitment for NYCFC as part of the City Football Group network. 


What comes next for Minnesota United

It is not immediately clear when El-Ahmad will start with Minnesota, as a transition period needs to be finalized for when he leaves Barnsley. El-Ahmad is under contract with Barnsley through July. Barnsley played at Wembley in the promotion playoff last season but lost and currently sits in fifth place in League One. The aim is for El-Ahmad to start before the 2024 MLS season, however, and he is expected to have input in the hiring of a new head coach. 

Minnesota CEO Shari Ballard led the search for the new chief soccer officer and is leading the search for a coach as well, along with the leadership team at Minnesota United. The expectation is for a coach to be in place ahead of the January transfer window.

Minnesota United fired the only coach in its MLS history, Adrian Heath, on Oct. 6. Technical director Mark Watson was also let go at that time. Heath spent nearly seven seasons with Minnesota, finishing with an 81-91-51 record and taking the Loons to the playoffs in four consecutive seasons from 2019-22.

El-Ahmad will lead a completely refreshed sporting operation, with former chief soccer officer Manny Lagos moving to a role outside of the sporting infrastructure as the club’s first chief development officer.

El-Ahmad has ties to the American Midwest. He was a four-year letterwinner in soccer at UW-Milwaukee, helping the team claim four straight Horizon League regular-season and tournament titles from 2001 through 2004. El-Ahmad was named a freshman All-American by College Soccer News in 2001 and was a two-time second-team All-Horizon League selection, appearing in 66 career games with the Panthers.

Recently, El-Ahmad, who was born in Uppsala, Sweden, was linked with the top sporting job at Hammarby in Sweden’s first division.



Minnesota United has its first chance at reinvention

(Photo: David Berding/Getty Images)

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