Man Utd, the MLS and management: Kirovski’s background and identified role at Milan

By Oliver Fisher -

In the past couple of weeks, it has been widely reported that Jovan Kirovski has been in talks with AC Milan over a possible position in the club’s management.

According to what is being reported by The Athletic, Kirovski is in advanced talks to join the Rossoneri after discussions that have been going on for some time, and it seems as though Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been a key endorser.

As our colleagues at write, since Ibrahimovic officially returned to Milan 0 this time in the role of Senior Advisor to RedBird Capital – things have shifted around a bit in terms of the hierarchical power.

The Swede received considerable responsibility and margin of action directly from Gerry Cardinale, with reports stating he is second only to the RedBird founder in terms of who calls the shots at the club.

Ibra’s word weighs a lot in the eyes of Cardinale – as the Rossoneri owner himself admitted in a recent interview – and the first signs of this new redistribution of powers already seem to be tangible.

As mentioned, in recent days the news has come out of a concrete interest in hiring Jovan Kirovski and seems that Ibrahimovic is the primary sponsor of this negotiation. But who exactly is he?

From Old Trafford to Dortmund

Kirovski has a Macedonian surname, like the origins of both parents, but is Californian by birth, having been born in Escondido in 1976.

His background is as a professional footballer: he was the first American to sign for Manchester United (at the age of 16). However, for reasons relating to his residence permit, Kirovski never managed to make his first team debut.

Thus, he moved to Borussia Dortmund in 1996, becoming in the 1996-97 season the first American footballer to win the Champions League, albeit not as a protagonist.

Kirovski made his debut for the United States national team at the age of 18 on in October 1994, against Saudi Arabia. He played at the 1996 Olympics and the 1999 and 2003 editions of the FIFA Confederations Cup, earning 62 caps in total with the USMNT.

After some other experiences in England, namely at Crystal Palace and Birmingham, Kirovski returned to America to wear the shirts of LA Galaxy, Colorado Rapids and San José Earthquakes. He retired at the age of 35.

Moving behind the desk

Having finished his career as a player, Kirovski immediately made it clear that he wanted to stay around football and he didn’t move far away from the field at all.

In 2012 he retired from soccer but remained on the coaching staff for the LA Galaxy as an assistant coach. As a member of Bruce Arena’s staff, Kirovski helped the team repeat as MLS Cup champions that year.

However, he then transitioned from a coaching role to one behind a desk. He was appointed technical director of the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2013.

Among other things, the Californian stood out for being the author of the introduction – in 2014 – of the second team, the LA Galaxy II. More on that to come.

He managed to bring talents of the caliber of Steven Gerrard, Douglas Costa and Chicharito Hernandez to America, as well as obviously Ibrahimovic.

Kirovski brought the Swede to the MLS in the 2017-18 season and that begun a relationship of profound mutual respect between the two.

After 11 years as a director at LA Galaxy, the separation between the parties was made official on January 11th. Kirovski is therefore ready for a new experience, with Milan and Ibra ready to welcome him with open arms.

A red and black future

What do we know about his potential role at Milan? According to The Athletic, there is a specific job that Ibrahimovic has in mind for Kirovski and it relates to what was mentioned earlier regarding his time in Los Angeles.

It had been reported that he would work in the market sector of the club alongside Ibrahimovic, Geoffrey Moncada and Antonio D’Ottavio potentially as the new technical director, given that Moncada is primarily a chief scout and was promoted de-facto after Paolo Maldini’s exit.

Whilst he still may be involved within the transfer side of things for the first team in some aspects, the information that we have is that he will instead oversee Milan’s second team, which has been an idea in the pipeline for several months now.

This will not be unfamiliar territory for him, though. As aforementioned, he first became LA Galaxy’s Technical Director, he was instrumental in creating their USL affiliate team – LA Galaxy II – which sounds extremely familiar to the project he would undertake at Milan.

‘Los Dos’ became the club’s way of developing their own talent, creating pathways from their youth teams to the senior teams.

Furthermore, Chris Klein, the former LA Galaxy president, stated that the team would be instrumental in bridging gaps between their academy and senior squad.

“We believe the LA Galaxy are taking a monumental step for player development in North America. The creation of LA Galaxy II, through USL PRO, provides the Galaxy with a fully realised, in-house player development program starting with the Under-12 Academy through the LA Galaxy first team,” he said.

“The investment of AEG and the Galaxy for LA Galaxy II will allow us to continue to develop the best players in Southern California while closing the gap between the Galaxy Academy and the LA Galaxy.”

That does not sound a million miles away from what the Rossoneri are hoping to do with their U23 side. While Kirovski’s name might not be one that instantly generates excitement among the fan base, there is plenty to suggest he has the pedigree to lead such a plan.


Tags AC Milan Jovan Kirovski


  1. Pedigree? Not when you look closely.
    Here’s a re-post from the first story about Kirovsky:

    Jovan Kirovski might be best buds with Ibra, but he never played at a high level or otherwise demonstrated a high level of added value to a team.
    Despite the impressive sounding list of places he was at, he never broke through as a starter anywhere in Europe, never even made it as a regular starter for the USMNT, never made it to a World Cup roster (which wouldn’t have been that hard in 1998, 2002, and 2006).
    My memory of him is that he was considered to be a free spirit and lazy, talented enough to be a bench warmer in Europe and a starter in MLS, but never reaching his potential.
    He and Ibra were probably kindred spirits at the LA Galaxy, as the rest of the Galaxy’s management did not look upon Ibra’s antics favorably.
    Ibra, though, had 1000x the talent and drive to win that Kirovski had.
    Seriously doubt that Kirovski would have much to add other than being Ibra’s BFF and drinking buddy.

  2. As for USL Pro, this is entirely a monopolistic effort by MLS to compete with AND MAINTAIN CONTROL of young American talent against the REAL 2nd, 3rd, and 4th division leagues in the USA – the USL Championship, USL League 1, and USL League 2 (as decreed by the US Soccer Federation).
    As there is no relegation/promotion in North America, MLS has been determined to undermine the USL, and doing its best to de-legitimize it.

    As for developing young American talent, that just does not happen in the USA to a very high level.
    Any truly talented American player has to leave for Europe while still a teenager, where the coaching and competition standards are far, far higher, in order to develop into the skill level of somebody like Christian Pulisic (he went to BvB at age 17).
    The ONLY purpose of USL Pro is to get these young American players on an MLS contract so if they want to leave for Europe, MLS gets to demand a big transfer fee.
    Recently, young players from the USL Championship had been making it to Europe without havibg to deal with these usurious MLS transfer fee demands.
    MLS did not like that.

    It is only good as a Retirement League for Aging Soccer Stars.

    MLS is more than willing to spend millions on aging stars like Messi and Suarez while spending little to actually develop American youth talent.

  3. I trust Ibra, bit from all the favts here I am seriously struggling to see the benefit or rationale of signing this guy. Unless as an American born first Generation Balkans guy it somehow bridges Cardinale Ibra gaps and filles in a certain void that would be lost in translation otherwise

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