President's Letter - Sept. 7, 2018
Dear Friends, Colleagues and Supporters of U.S. Soccer,
As summer ends and players across the country kick off another season, I want to keep you updated on the Federation’s activities, including our quarterly in-person Board of Directors meeting on August 16 and 17 in Chicago.
Following the organizational changes at U.S. Soccer that we announced in April and our successful bid in June to host the FIFA World CupTM in 2026—which gives us an extraordinary opportunity to grow the game here at home—we’re moving forward on many fronts.
Improving Governance: New Leadership on all Board Committees
Building on our previous reforms to empower the Board and enhance oversight and accountability, we took the next step at last month’s Board meeting—approving new chairs for committees. As a result, all Board committees are now under new leadership. Thank you to everyone who has stepped forward to serve in these important roles, which will further empower the Board to play a greater role in all Federation activities.
New Strategy for the Future
Following last month’s Board meeting, we also convened a special session to examine the Federation’s overall strategy for the coming years as we pursue our mission of making soccer the preeminent sport in America. We did so because the years leading up to the World Cup in 2026 give us an incredible eight-year runway to grow the game in our country at all levels.
Working together, we can do more to support our members, including increased youth and adult participation; impact athletes, including developing world-class players, coaches and referees; and serve the fans, including connecting with fans in deeper and more meaningful ways. We’ll continue to solicit inputs from across our Federation, and we hope to share a more detailed plan in the coming months so that we make the most of these years leading up to 2026.
New Task Force: Coming Together to Grow Youth Soccer
One of our greatest challenges—and opportunities—in the years ahead will be growing participation at the youth level, which was also a topic of discussion at the U.S. Youth Soccer annual general meeting in July in Frisco, Texas. As I mentioned in my remarks, the number of registered youth playing under the U.S. Soccer umbrella has stagnated because of several barriers, including the fractured youth landscape and the high cost of “pay to play.”
That’s why I’ve proposed the creation of a new U.S. Soccer Youth Task Force that would—for the first time ever—bring all our youth organizations together to address all of the challenges facing youth soccer and how we can do better. We’ve been very encouraged by the response so far and are pleased that leaders from our youth organizations have agreed to serve on the task force’s Leadership Council.
As a start, we’ve asked youth organizations to submit their top issues and concerns that they’d like the task force to address. Working Groups will be formed and charged with developing specific deliverables, including implementation plans and timelines, for consideration by the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors. I want to thank all the youth leaders who have volunteered to be a part of this critical effort, and I look forward to working together to building a strong coalition of support and consensus for the changes that are needed.
Keeping Players Safe
Keeping all our players—especially our youth—safe and free of injuries is our shared responsibility. That’s why, during this year’s Concussion Awareness Week, we’re encouraging everyone involved in soccer help build a culture of awareness and support around concussions. We also continue to encourage Federation members to participate in SafeSport, which aims to prevent abuse and create a healthy, safe and supportive environment for all players.
Another $3 Million to Boost Participation
We’re proud that our Innovate to Grow Fund will continue for a second year. More than a dozen Federation members across the country received funds last year to increase participation. Starting this month, up to $3 million in grants will be offered to support innovative programs that bring more players into the game, and we strongly encourage members to apply.
New Pathways for Coaching Education
As we remember legendary coach Ron Newman and all that he gave to the game, we’re also proud to offer new education pathways to empower the next generation of coaches. With the launch of our final three Online Grassroots Coaching Courses through our state-of-the-art Digital Coaching Center, education is now accessible to coaches at all levels across the country.
Women’s National Team: Search for GM Moving Forward
At the national level, we’re moving ahead with hiring the first General Manager for our Women’s National Team. We’re looking for a GM who can maximize our women’s incredible strengths, as I saw myself when congratulating Christen Press on reaching 100 caps and presenting our WNT with the championship trophy at the Tournament of Nations after their thrilling come-from-behind victory over Brazil. Now it’s on to the Concacaf qualifying tournament next month on their quest to defend their World Cup championship next year!
Men’s National Team: Earnie Stewart On Board; Leading Search for Head Coach
As we celebrated the inspiring career of Clint Dempsey, we’re also thrilled that Earnie Stewart officially started as the first General Manager of our Men’s National Team on August 1 and that he’s begun the search for a new head coach.
Meanwhile, be sure to watch as our Men’s National Team takes on Brazil tonight and Mexico on Tuesday. It’s all part of a rigorous schedule—including upcoming matches against Colombia, England, Italy and Peru—designed to give our rising young players the opportunity to compete against the world’s top talent.
Youth National Teams Highlights
Unfortunately, our U-20 Women’s National Team didn’t find success at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France, failing to advance out of a tough group that included Japan and Spain—both of which went on to the finals. As always, there will be an in-depth review of performance, but we’re confident that players across this team will continue to develop and provide us with great prospects for our full Women’s National Team.
Congratulations to our U-15 Girls’ National Team on taking first place at the Concacaf Girls’ U-15 Championship; our Under-23 Women’s National Team on winning the Women’s U-23 Nordic Tournament; and our Under-18 Men’s National Team on its first place finish at the Vaclav Jezek tournament for the third time in six years. You can find the latest on all our teams here.
Preparing for 2026
Finally, with our bid to co-host the 2026 FIFA World CupÔ with Mexico and Canada behind us, we’re looking forward to working with all three countries to make the tournament an incredible success. In that spirit, I was pleased to join FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the White House last week to discuss our hopes for 2026 with President Trump, whose administration strongly supported our United Bid.
As always, I’m grateful to so many of you who are sharing your ideas and enthusiasm for delivering the change that U.S. Soccer needs. As we saw with the record-breaking attendance at last month’s MLS All-Star Game, Americans are embracing soccer like never before, and I’m humbled to be your partner as we work together to sustain this momentum!