Wolff’s Pack: meet Austin FC’s assistant coaches

Josh Wolff and Claudio Reyna are building a staff of experienced MLS assistant coaches ahead of 2021.

We’re talking about Davy Arnaud, Nolan Sheldon, and Roddy Rios.

Never mind that all three assistant coaches came from clubs left out of the 2020 MLS playoffs, they bring diverse coaching experience to Austin FC.

These managers have a solid mix of primary team and academy knowledge. They come from MLS 1.0 (D.C. United) and expansion clubs (Atlanta United). Head coach Wolff also appears to have personal ties to all three either as a player, coach, or parent.

As far as their job duties at Austin FC, you can expect these assistants to play a key role in the day-to-day prep, training, and recuperation of the first team, while helping to develop the playing philosophy and culture.

Meet Wolff’s assistant coaches:

Davy Arnaud

Coaching Exp. (Yrs): 7     Age: 40
Place of Birth: Nederland, TX

Coach Arnaud joined Austin FC from just down the road—Houston Dynamo—where he served in a variety of coaching positions, including interim head coach in 2019 when Wilmer Cabrera was fired mid-season. He started his coaching career as an assistant at D.C. United.

Wolff has a strong connection with Arnaud from their days as teammates playing for Sporting KC.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the Club. I had the pleasure of playing alongside and learning from Josh in Kansas City. His leadership and knowledge of the game is something I admire and I look forward to rejoining him here in Austin,” Arnaud said. “I want to thank Josh and Claudio for affording me the opportunity to help build Austin FC.”

Austin FC Press Release 7.13.20

Coach Arnaud’s hiring brings intangibles to the club, along with solid boots-on-the-ground experience. As a native Texan, he can truly foster the culture from the ground up with a Lone Star state of mind. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have the scoop on an in-state rival.

Nolan Sheldon

Coaching Exp. (Yrs): 13      Age: 36
Place of Birth: Fort Wayne, IN

Coach Sheldon moved to Austin FC from D.C. United where he spent ten years in various coaching roles. During his tenure, the club reached MLS Playoffs in 2016, 2018 and 2019. Nolan spent the first six of those 10 years coaching in the club’s development academy.

Unfortunately, DCU imploded in 2020, seemingly unable to rebound after the departure of football legend Wayne Rooney. Head coach Ben Olsen was fired and the club finished second to last in the Eastern table.

Wolff briefly crossed paths with Sheldon at D.C. United in 2012-2013, where they were both coaches in some capacity at the club. Maybe more notably, Wolff likely knows Sheldon when they matched wits against each other as assistant coaches on opposing teams in the Eastern conference.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to move to Austin FC and want to thank Josh and Claudio for making it possible,” said Nolan Sheldon. “I enjoyed my time with D.C. United immensely, and want to thank everyone at D.C. for their help, support and good wishes. My focus is very firmly on Austin FC and helping my new Club achieve the ambitious goals our Ownership, and the whole community in Austin, have set for Austin FC.”

Austin FC Press Release 11.20.20

Coach Sheldon brings a decade of MLS coaching to Austin FC—from the youth level to major league playoff soccer. While he wasn’t a contender for the DCU head coach opening, it was reported by Soccer America that he was pitched the job for the U.S. U20 national team last year.

Rodrigo Rios

Coaching Exp. (Yrs): 10      Age: 43
Place of Birth: Santiago, Chile

Coach Rios arrived from Atlanta United where he was on the coaching staff of the club’s academy starting in 2016, and then head coach of the U19 team from 2017-2020. Rios’s time in the ATL extends even further back, playing for USL club Atlanta Silverbacks in 2005-2008.

It speaks volumes about Rios that Wolff entrusted his son, Tyler, to the Atlanta United academy after the Wolff family’s departure from Columbus Crew. Tyler now has a homegrown player contract with Atlanta United.

“Moving to Austin FC is a huge opportunity for my family and I, and I want to thank Claudio Reyna, Josh Wolff and Austin FC’s Ownership team for inviting me to be part of this exciting new MLS team,” added Rodrigo Rios. “I learned a lot at Atlanta United, and I am extremely grateful to everyone in Atlanta for so many good memories from my time there, but now I am looking forward to starting a new challenge in Austin, and I cannot wait to start work.”

Austin FC Press Release 11.20.20

Coach Rios was with Atlanta Utd in its birth as an expansion club, embedded with brilliant head coach Tata Martino during the club’s spectacular early rise, as well as having a front row seat for the red and black disaster that exploded in front of our eyes in 2020. Surely there are lessons from his experience that could serve as wise counsel in Wolff’s ear.