Birmingham Legion Football Club hires former MLS player and head coach as new President/GM

Birmingham Legion FC
Birmingham Legion Football Club ownership group and leadership team with Mayor Randall Woodfin. New Legion President/GM Jay Heaps is on Woodfin’s left. Photo by Hamid Al-Diagan

In front of a filled to capacity room of supporters at Good People Brewing Company, Birmingham Legion Football Club (FC) announced Jay Heaps – former Major League Soccer (MLS) player and former head coach for the New England Revolution – as president and general manager of its professional United Soccer League (USL) team.

Heaps made his acceptance public at the event attended by Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, team management and the local soccer community. His tenure with Birmingham Legion FC is effective immediately.

“From day one I knew this was the right project, everytime I sat down with the ownership group it was always about Birmingham, always about how we can bring high level soccer to Birmingham. Then as the conversation continued it was about community,” Heaps told the crowd.

“The community is going to be a huge pillar of what we are doing,” he concluded.

Heaps has a long and distinguished soccer resume.

A standout at Duke University, he was named both Soccer America National and ACC Freshman of the Year. As a senior, he won the 1998 Missouri Athletic Club Award as the top collegiate player and was the NSCAA Scholar-Athlete of the year that same season. During his college tenure, he was a three-time Hermann Trophy finalist and a four-time first-team All-ACC pick Additionally, Heaps played for the Duke University basketball team under Mike Krzyzewski from 1996-1999, graduating early midway through his senior season to pursue his soccer career in the MLS.

Duke’s Coach Krzyzewski added, “For Jay, he’s not just trying to build a team but develop a culture. There’s nobody who has the combination of spirit, energy, charisma and talent like he does.Birmingham will never find a guy who wants to win any more than he does – or who will be as passionate.”

Birmingham Soccer
Birmingham Legion FC’s new brand

Heaps was drafted second overall in the 1999 MLS Draft by the Miami Fusion. He was named 1999 Rookie of the Year and 2000 MLS All-Star before being traded to the New England Revolution prior to the start of the 2001 season. With the Revolution, he won four Eastern Conference Championships and was one of only three players who started in each of New England’s four MLS Cup appearances (2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007).

Heaps received his first call-up for the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2009, earning four caps during the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He retired from play that same year.

Following his MLS retirement, he worked at Morgan Stanley’s Boston office before being named head coach of the New England Revolution in 2011. Under his six-years as coach, Heaps led his team to MLS Playoff qualifications in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2014, Heaps led the Revolution to both the league’s Eastern Conference Championship and to runner’s up in the MLS Cup.

After Heaps’s announcement Mayor Randall Woodfin made remarks about the new Legion FC.

“Hammer down Birmingham!” he exclaimed.

“Things are changing in Birmingham. This is a pivotal moment. Truthfully 2019 can’t get here fast enough.”

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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