A New Vision for US Soccer
To take U.S. Soccer to the next level, we need to build on our strengths, honestly confront what needs to change and work together—as a unified community—to achieve our vision of growing the game and making soccer the preeminent sport in America.
To do this, we need to think bigger and Aim Higher than ever before. That includes developing a plan to significantly increase our budget over the coming decade so that we can invest more in all players at all levels over the long term.
This will be an ambitious undertaking. But it’s achievable. World-class programs like Germany, England, France and Spain already have budgets that are much larger than ours. There’s no reason that the United States—the largest and most developed economy in the world with a population of 326 million people, including dynamic immigrant communities, and a young, energized and growing base of soccer fans—cannot achieve a much higher level of financial support for soccer.
Money alone is not the answer to the many challenges facing our sport. But without major new investments, we will not be able to reach new heights. By investing our surplus wisely and significantly growing our budget, we can strengthen our sport in three key areas:
Grow the Game at All Levels
While the “top” of the U.S. Soccer pyramid has prospered, this success has not been felt equally across our Federation, especially at the grassroots. In addition, after years of impressive gains, our growth has stalled. We’ve plateaued. If we simply continue on our current course, we will not achieve our vision of making soccer the preeminent sport in America and an even greater part of our culture.
It’s time to Aim Higher. To continue growing soccer at all levels, increase U.S. Soccer membership and serve all our members, we must have a unified approach—and work collaboratively with our member associations—to invest our surplus wisely and increase our budget so that we can:
Promote a more unified Youth Soccer landscape where our members—rather than fighting each other for players—work together to bring more young people into our ranks as registered players and where we focus on Youth Soccer less as a business and more as a way to develop talent on the field and nurture our next generation of young adults;
Invest more resources in Youth Soccer, including scholarships and grants, so that more young people—especially in cities and underserved and diverse communities—can afford to play; subsidize coaches and coach education programs; and increase support for the grassroots volunteers who help identify and develop players at the youngest ages;
Treat referees with greater respect, including additional focus on referee recruitment, training and retention and improving consultation with referees and their leadership before decisions are made;
Grow Adult Soccer—perhaps our greatest opportunity for growing soccer in the U.S.—by collaborating more with adult groups and recognizing that the millions of Youth Soccer players could bolster the ranks of the 250,000 adult players if we invest more in existing tournaments, support new membership drives and better link Adult Soccer programs with Youth Soccer and fans across the country;
Increase support for professional leagues—the prosperity of which are critical to the success of soccer in America—by working with all professional leagues, including the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), to help develop even stronger players, coaches and referees; and,
Grow the fan base and commercial partnerships, because our fans and partnerships—including corporate sponsorships—generate the majority of USSF revenue, and increasing both will be critical to significantly increasing our budget so we can further invest in the growth of soccer.
Develop World-Class National Teams
The strength of our Women’s National Team and the new talent coming up the ranks of both the men’s and women’s programs show that U.S. Soccer can deliver excellence. But disappointing results at several levels—including the heartbreaking failures of the Women’s National Team to win a medal in the Rio Olympics and the Men’s National Team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup—have revealed real problems that need to be addressed.
It’s time to Aim Higher. To make sure that our women can defend their World Cup championship in 2019, ensure that our men return to the World Cup in 2022 and that both our men’s and women’s teams achieve the highest level of excellence in 2026 and 2027 and beyond—Mission 26/27—we must align all levels of U.S. Soccer operations. Specifically, we must:
Invest more resources in player development and world-class coaches, training facilities and infrastructure consistent with the highest competition, as well as provide additional support for all National Team athletes—male and female, Youth, Paralympians and Futsal, beach soccer, Power, deaf and amputee athletes;
Create a new Technical Department—run by new General Managers for our Men’s and Women’s programs and reporting to the CEO of U.S. Soccer—responsible for recruiting, selecting and managing all National Team coaches so that soccer experts run soccer operations;
Increase resources and investment in the women’s program—including working toward equal pay—so that our women have the best technical and training support, are no longer forced to play on artificial turf and have greater representation at all levels of Federation decision-making, because supporting our women’s teams is not charity; women deserve to be treated equally and investing in our women’s teams is one of the best ways to grow the sport; and,
Compete and excel on our home soil by winning our bids to co-host the Men’s World Cup with Canada and Mexico in 2026 and host the Women’s World Cup in 2027.
Ensure Open, Inclusive, Transparent Leadership
Too often in the past, not all members of our soccer community have been heard at the highest level of the USSF. At times, the Board has not been fully consulted on important decisions. Policy changes have been imposed on members of our community with little or no consultation and with too little regard for the impact at the ground level.
It’s time to Aim Higher. To achieve the growth we want and to ensure that our Federation listens to and collaborates with all USSF members as genuine partners, we must:
Have a truly independent President who is beholden to no one, listens to and treats all members of our community fairly, is transparent, abides by checks and balances, and works collaboratively to bring all stakeholders together around common goals;
Empower the Board to play a greater role in all Federation activities, including the creation of two new board-level committees: a technical committee, chaired by an Athlete Director, to oversee soccer operations, and a commercial committee, chaired by an independent director, to oversee all USSF commercial activities, including marketing and TV broadcast rights;
Give current and former players a greater role and voice at all levels of decision-making and governance, by recruiting more athletes to the Athlete Council and integrating athletes across more committees, task forces and other appointments; and,
Create a new Membership Department at Soccer House to better serve all USSF members, including dedicated staff liaisons to Youth and Adult Soccer to help improve communication, grow the grassroots, address member concerns and more carefully consider the impact of decisions on the ground before they are made; and,
Make diversity and inclusion a priority across our Federation, including measuring our progress, holding ourselves accountable and appointing a full-time, paid Director of Diversity & Inclusion to promote equality across all programs for all athletes, regardless of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, socio-economic background or disability.
Delivering the change that’s urgently needed and achieving our vision of making soccer the preeminent sport in America will not be easy. But I know we can do it. If we come together as one, united soccer community. If we work hard. If we always Aim Higher.