The Swope Park Rangers are finalizing plans to promote Paulo Nagamura to head coach, sources told The Star on Wednesday.
Nagamura, a former Sporting Kansas City midfielder, will be the Rangers’ third coach in their three seasons. He served as an assistant under Nikola Popovic in 2017. Popovic and Swope Park mutually agreed to part ways earlier this month.
Nagamura, 34, played 12 seasons in Major League Soccer, including the final five in Kansas City before opting to retire after the 2016 season. Upon retirement, he immediately embarked on a coaching career with the Rangers.
“It’s something I’ve always thought about doing,” Nagamura told The Star last winter. “This is a great place to learn from (Sporting KC coach) Peter (Vermes) and all the coaches.”
Swope Park, which plays in the United Soccer League, is a minor-league affiliate for Sporting Kansas City. As technical director for Sporting KC, Vermes is in charge of picking the Swope Park coaching staff. When he hired Nagamura as an assistant last winter, Vermes said, “He’s one of the more mature players that I’ve dealt with. He was always really inquisitive and trying to start preparing for the next step.”
The Swope Park Rangers began play in the USL in 2015. They finished as the league’s runners-up in 2016 and 2017.
The club was established to bridge the gap between the Sporting KC Academy and the Sporting KC first team, essentially a tool for developing players. It furthered that concept last season, regularly inputting former academy players and Sporting KC reserves into the lineup. Nagamura will be tasked with continuing that philosophy.
Nagamura won two MLS Cup championships in his playing career, including the 2013 trophy with Sporting KC. He also won three U.S. Open Cup titles.
He had six goals and seven assists during his stint in Kansas City. He converted penalty kick attempts in the 2013 MLS Cup, 2012 Open Cup and 2015 Open Cup.