TAMPA, Fla. – Memphis 901 FC’s Ben Pirmann was on Wednesday named the 2022 USL Championship Coach of the Year, honoring a campaign in which he led the side to its best record and finish in the USL Championship’s regular season and to its first postseason victory in 901 FC’s fourth season in the league.
Appointed as interim Head Coach late in the 2020 regular season, Pirmann has led the ascent of 901 FC to become a contender in the Championship’s Eastern Conference since his permanent appointment to the position prior to the start of the 2021 campaign. This season, Memphis finished second in the Eastern Conference on 68 points, earning 21 victories. The side also ranked third in the league’s regular season with 67 goals while conceding only 33 times, tied for fifth-fewest in the league, standing as one of the most well-rounded squads in the league.
“It’s very humbling to earn this award, especially with so many top coaches in the league,” said Pirmann. “This is a team award, and I am so grateful for these players to perform the way they did day in and day out. There were so many coaches that deserved this award from [San Antonio FC’s] Alen [Marcina] and [Louisville City FC’s] Danny [Cruz] through to [the Tampa Bay Rowdies’] Neill [Collins] and [Detroit City FC’s] Trevor [James] as well. I appreciate the honor but it’s always down to the team and what we’ve been able to accomplish as a unit.”
Pirmann’s squad underwent numerous changes last offseason, including the departure of two 2021 Championship All-League selections. The new arrivals quickly coalesced, however, with forward and Tennessee native Phillip Goodrum setting a club record with 21 regular-season goals to finish second in the Golden Boot race while midfielder Aaron Molloy recorded a club single-season best 10 assists. Both were voted to the Championship’s All-League First Team, while attacking midfielder Jeremy Kelly earned the Championship’s Player of the Month award in May as another stellar new signing for the club.
The individual success Memphis’ players delivered this season was aided by the structure Pirmann implemented, making 901 FC a team that was one of the most entertaining to watch in the league on top of its success.
“Balance is the key word in our coaching philosophy,” said Pirmann. “We want to be dominant in and out of possession, as well as being accountable in the transition moments. We believed in our players and tried to put them in positions to be themselves and thrive individually as well as collectively.”
At 37 years old, Pirmann is among the growing group of top young coaches currently leading sides in the USL Championship. He follows the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Neill Collins (2021) and New Mexico United’s Troy Lesesne (co-winner, 2020) as the third consecutive coach under 40 years of age to earn the award as the standard of work being accomplished on the sidelines in the Championship continues to rise alongside the competition within the league.
“Even though I don’t feel that young, it’s an honor to be able to lead these young men and compete with some of the best managers and clubs in the country,” said Pirmann. “I believe that we, as coaches in USL Championship, are making massive steps forward in our individual developments but also pushing each other weekly to get results. This makes everyone reflect and improve and it’s only going to get better!”
Pirmann received 46 percent of the vote to earn the award, while San Antonio FC’s Alen Marcina finished second on 25 percent and Detroit City FC’s Trevor James took third on 14 percent. Eight coaches overall received votes in balloting.
The 2022 USL Championship Awards were voted on by team technical staffs and executives and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL Championship market. Voting was conducted following the conclusion of the 2022 Championship regular season.
Goalkeeper of the Year: Jordan Farr, San Antonio FC
Defender of the Year: Mitchell Taintor, San Antonio FC
Coach of the Year: Ben Pirmann, Memphis 901 FC
Young Player of the Year: November 9
Most Valuable Player: November 10
2011: Adrian Heath, Orlando City SC
2012: Adrian Heath, Orlando City SC
2013: Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers
2014: Preki, Sacramento Republic FC
2015: Bob Lilley, Rochester Rhinos
2016: John Wolyniec, New York Red Bulls II
2017: Mark Briggs, Real Monarchs SLC
2018: Alan Koch, FC Cincinnati
2019: Rick Schantz, Phoenix Rising FC
2020: Troy Lesesne, New Mexico United & Ian Russell, Reno 1868 FC
2021: Neill Collins, Tampa Bay Rowdies