Nikola Popovic was named Swope Park Rangers head coach ahead of the 2017 season after serving as an assistant in the club’s inaugural campaign in 2016. Popovic arrived in Kansas City following a stint as an assistant coach with Benfica B in Portugal.
A dual citizen of Portugal and Serbia who was born in Belgrade, Popovic began his coaching career in Portugal with CD Olivais e Moscavide in the Segunda Division, initially with an internship in the 2005-06 season where the side won the title and gained promotion to the Segunda Liga, before being hired as an assistant for the following season. After leaving CD Olivais e Moscavide at the conclusion of the 2006-07 season, Popovic headed to FC Vihren Sandanski in the Bulgarian A Football Group as an assistant but returned to Portugal later that same year with Segunda Liga side Varzim SC, where he won the Liga Intercalar.
In 2010, the 43-year-old enjoyed a stint as an assistant coach with the Cape Verde National Team, before joining Spanish Segunda Division B side AD Ceuta. While with AD Ceuta, he helped guide the club to the Copa Del Rey Round of 32 – the club’s best ever showing in the tournament – where the side fell to eventual runners-up Barcelona. Later that same season, Popovic linked up with Bulgarian side Chernomorets Burgas in the Bulgarian A Football Group, helping the side to a quarterfinal appearance in the Bulgarian Cup.
Popovic’s next stop was with Al Dahfra in the United Arab Emirates for the 2011-12 season, where he was an assistant to Baltemar Brito – Jose Mourinho’s former assistant coach – winning the Vice President Cup. Popovic earned his first head coaching job the following season, taking charge of Sertanense FC in the Portuguese Second Division. Popovic then joined Qatar’s Aspire Academy in 2014, before returning to Portugal and Benfica B in 2015.
Popovic holds a UEFA Pro coaching license – the highest UEFA license available – having garnered his coaching philosophies with Inter Milan (2012-13), Portugal Under-21s (2013) and Serbia and Montenegro Under-21s (2006).