President's Letter - April 12, 2019
It’s been a busy two months since our AGM in Scottsdale, spring is upon us, the NWSL kicks off its seventh season tomorrow and our National Teams are preparing for an exciting summer. So I want to update you on many of the important recent developments across our Federation.
SUPPORTING OUR MEMBERS
Growing the Grassroots
Thank you to the more than 100 youth and adult members from across the country who attended the 4th edition of our annual member meetings in Frisco, Texas earlier this month. With the beautiful new National Soccer Hall of Fame as a backdrop, representatives from Soccer House led the discussion on a range of Federation initiatives to help fuel our growth and improve communication. This includes our Innovate to Grow Fund, player health and safety, SafeSport, our digital platforms for coaching and refereeing and our new, revamped Federation website (coming soon!).
ESPN+ to Broadcast Every Match of U.S. Open Cup
We’re thrilled that, with our new landmark agreement with ESPN+, soccer fans will—for the first time ever—be able to watch every match of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Starting with next month’s First Round of the 106th edition of the Cup, viewers will be able to stream all matches, including for all 32 amateur teams. It’s all part of our ongoing commitment to grow the Open Cup and attract more players, including from the amateur division.
Coming Together at National Team Matches
We’ve been delighted to welcome former National Team players, State Presidents and Executive Directors, Professional Club representatives and others from our membership ranks to recent National Team games. It’s provided a wonderful opportunity for members across our soccer family—and across generations—to engage with one another while enjoying the competition on the field. And we look forward to welcoming more of you to future matches!
ENSURING GOOD GOVERNANCE
New Board Members
As Cindy Parlow Cone begins her tenure as our new Vice President and Patti Hart begins her role as our newest Independent Director, we congratulate Chris Ahrens on his reelection as Athlete Council chair and continued service on the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors. We’re also pleased to welcome three new members to the Board. Long-time youth coach, director and administrator Mike Cullina will serve as the At-Large Representative, replacing John Collins, who did not seek reelection. Alec Papadakis, the current CEO of United Soccer League, replaces Steve Malik as one of two Pro Council Representatives. And the Athlete Council has elected Lori Lindsey as its Vice Chair, giving her a seat on the Board, and Lindsay Tarpley Snow to serve as an alternate to the Board.
Search for New CEO Underway
Following the announcement at our AGM that Dan Flynn will step down as CEO later this year, we’ve formed a committee of board members to guide our search for Dan’s successor, with assistance from the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. Our CEO Succession Committee is comprised of myself, Vice President Cindy Parlow Cone, Chris Ahrens, Lisa Carnoy, Don Garber, Richard Moeller and Dr. Pete Zopfi. We’ll conduct a thorough and broad-based search and will update you when a public announcement is ready as we work towards a seamless transition.
Staffing Up to Serve You Better
Having approved a record budget of $136 million at our AGM, we continue to hire additional staff to ensure that we’re investing our resources wisely. At Soccer House, we now have 188 full-time employees who are focused every day on supporting our members, impacting athletes and serving fans. This includes our current cadre of 16 young associates—many of them recent college players—who work tirelessly to serve our members across the country.
Women’s National Team: Countdown to France
After a challenging SheBelieves Cup, our Women’s National Team continued their Countdown to the Cup with impressive wins over Australia (with Alex Morgan scoring her 100th goal!) and Belgium. Next up: the Send-Off Series against South Africa, New Zealand and Mexico. Even as we remain ready to continue a dialogue with our USWNT players about their recent complaint, we’ll continue to provide the team with everything they need to earn their fourth star at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France!
Celebrating the Spirit of ‘99
This past weekend in Los Angeles, we were proud to honor the history-making 1999 Women’s National Team on the 20th anniversary of their inspiring World Cup victory. The weekend of festivities included an emotional halftime ceremony during the USWNT match against Belgium. Thank you to the Women’s National Team and the USWNT Players Association for partnering with us to invite all former USWNT players—truly an amazing reunion!
Men’s National Team: March to the Gold Cup
With wins over Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador and a draw against reigning Copa América champions Chile, our Men’s National Team is off to a strong start under coach Berhalter, who is now only the second MNT head coach to win each of his first three matches. Stay tuned for announcements of more friendlies in early June, leading up to the Gold Cup, which will feature group matches against Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Panama.
Extended National Teams: A Year of World Cups
Backed by our first-ever department focused exclusively on supporting our Extended National Teams, our Paralympians completed their second training camp ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Spain and ParaPan American Games in Peru. And good luck to our Beach players as they aim to qualify next month in Mexico for this year’s Beach Soccer World Cup.
Youth National Teams: New Era, New Coaches
Working together, MNT general manager Earnie Stewart and coach Berhalter continue to build out the men’s program for long-term success. We’re excited to welcome veteran MLS player and coach Jason Kreis as the new head coach of our U-23 men. Best of luck to coach Ramos and our U-20 men as they begin their World Cup in Poland next month. Welcome, also, to the new head coach of our U-17 men, World Cup veteran Raphael Wicky, as the team heads into next month’s U-17 Concacaf Championship in Florida, which will serve as Qualifying for the U-17 World Cup. At the La Manga tournament in Spain, our U-20 women finished their first competitive event of the new cycle with a strong win over Sweden.
GROWING THE GLOBAL GAME
Concacaf: The Path to 2026
It was a pleasure to welcome our many friends from Concacaf as the United States hosted the confederation’s annual Congress last month in Las Vegas. I shared our vision for harnessing the years leading up to the 2026 World Cup to grow the game across our region. During the Congress, delegates reelected President Victor Montagliani to a second term and approved new investments across our region in support of the One Concacaf vision.
FIFA Comes to the U.S.
It was also an honor to welcome FIFA as the United States hosted last month’s meeting of the FIFA Council in Miami. It was the first time that the Council has met in the U.S. in a generation—another reminder of our country’s growing presence in the global game. We’re very pleased that the Council approved VAR for this year’s Women’s World Cup as well as an expanded FIFA Club World Cup that will give our players more opportunities to compete at the highest levels.
Building Friendships with Soccer Diplomacy
Finally, in partnership with the U.S. State Department’s Sports Envoy Program, WNT and MNT alumni continue to forge international friendships through soccer. Recent trips include Staci Wilson and Kim Kammerdeiner in Ethiopia, Amanda Cromwell and Kacey White in Costa Rica and Panama and Tony Sanneh in Kenya, with upcoming visits by Sarah Huffman to Kuwait and Jeff Agoos and Linda Hamilton to Egypt.
That’s a lot happening across our Federation! And it’s a great reminder of how we’re going to keep growing soccer all across our country—by all of us doing our part, by all of us working together. This is truly a team effort. In that spirit, I’m grateful for your continued partnership.