New England Soccer Hall of Famer and New England Revolution gameday staffer Hernani “Ernie” Branco, 61, was killed in a single-vehicle crash early Sunday morning in Norton, Mass.
Branco, who was inducted into the Hall in 2005, died after the Cadillac CTS he was driving crashed into a guard rail on Richardson Ave. around 2:40am, according to a police statement. He was taken by ambulance to Rhode Island Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Norton police are investigating the cause of the crash.
Branco, who lived in Norton, served as a gameday staffer for the Revolution, and was a familiar face near the team’s technical area in recent years.
He served as the boys soccer coach at Brockton High School and coached at Stonehill College, as well. Under his watch, Stonehill men’s side went 151-118-25 (.556) in 15 seasons from 1984 through 1998, and led the squad to Northeast-10 championships in 1985, 1990 and 1991. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame shortly after his retirement.
Although the Portugal-born Branco had retired as a coach and educator, he remained invested in the game. He attended the 2013 New England Soccer Hall of Fame induction ceremony last month, and was on the field for September’s Brazil-Portugal friendly at Gillette Stadium.
Branco is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and their three children, Tiffany, Jordan and Morgan. Jordan Branco played for the Western Mass Pioneers in 2012.