Cindy Parlow Cone

USWNT
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New U.S. Soccer leadership: Settling USWNT’s lawsuit a priority

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NEW YORK — The newly installed president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Soccer Federation used their first news conference to state that settling a lawsuit filed by women’s national team players is a top priority.

“A lot of damage has been done, and I think we are going to have to rebuild that trust and rebuild the relationship. It is not going to happen overnight,” President Cindy Parlow Cone said Tuesday. “It’s going to take a lot of effort and time and energy from the U.S. Soccer side to rebuild that trust, not only with our U.S. women’s national team players, but with our fans and everyone engaged in the sport.”

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Players claim they have not been paid equally to the men’s national team and asked for more than $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A trial is scheduled for May 5 in federal court in Los Angeles.

“The solution here is clear, simple, and unequivocal: equal pay,” responded Molly Levinson, spokeswomen for the players.

In legal papers filed this month ahead of the trial, the USSF claimed the women’s team didn’t have the physical abilities or the same responsibilities as the men’s team. That sparked a furor that included an on-field protest by players wearing their warm-up jerseys inside out to hide the USSF crest. The outcry led to the resignation of USSF President Carlos Cordeiro and caused the federation to change its lead law firm.

Chief legal officer Lydia Wahlke has been placed on administrative leave, which was first reported Tuesday by ESPN. Parlow Cone said an outside firm has been retained to review USSF decision-making that led to the briefs “to see where that process broke down.” She hopes to schedule settlement talks.

“I don’t think a trial is good for either party or for soccer,” Parlow Cone said.

A 41-year-old World Cup and Olympic champion, Parlow Cone had been the USSF vice president before Cordeiro quit on March 12.

“The comments and the language in the last filing,” Parlow Cone said, “I think not only hurt our relationship with our women’s national team, but hurt women and girls in general, and as a former national player, they were personally hurtful to me.”

Will Wilson, a former MLS executive and the uncle of retired NFL quarterback Andrew Luck, was hired as chief executive officer Monday to replace Dan Flynn, who retired in September. The 52-year-old Wilson had been co-head of the NFL division of the Wasserman Media Group, which represents players.

“The wording, the comments in the filing were quite frankly shocking and very, very disappointing to me,” Wilson said.

Parlow Cone said she is part of the USSF’s board special litigation committee along with youth council representative Tim Turney and independent director Patti Hart. She said the committee was never given a chance to review the filings before they were submitted to the court.

“There was a fundamental error in our processes,” Parlow Cone said.

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She drew a distinction between this month’s filing and previous legal arguments by the federation.

“I think it’s one thing to argue that men and women play in different tournaments and play against different teams, and it’s altogether a different statement to say that therefore the women carry less responsibility or have less ability,” Parlow Cone said.

She said it was too soon to decide whether she would run next February to complete the final year of Cordeiro’s term. Parlow Cone also said the USSF is open to having the women and men negotiate together for a common labor deal, but that decision is up to the two unions under federal labor law.

Wilson, who said he received a multiyear contract, said it was not clear whether the postponement of the Olympics would cause Nike and other sponsors to decrease payments to the USSF this year. He is likely to take a role in organizing the 2026 World Cup, which the U.S. will co-host with Mexico and Canada.

In addition, the USSF faces antitrust suits by the promoter Relient seeking to allow foreign leagues to play in the U.S. and by the lower level North American Soccer League, which stopped play after 2017 and wanted a promotion-relegation system.

The U.S. men’s national team has been without a collective bargaining agreement since December 2018. Some federation staff complained about working conditions under Flynn and his No. 2, chief commercial and strategy officer Jay Berhalter – the brother of men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter. Jay Berhalter left the USSF last month when it became clear he would not succeed Flynn.

“Yes, there are issues. That’s obvious,” Wilson said. “But for me it was the fact that we had to address those and find resolutions, attack the culture and really create a place that people want to be and want to work.”

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner called off a March 30 hearing to decide summary judgment motions by each side and will issue his rulings based on the written submissions.

Cindy Parlow Cone becomes U.S. Soccer president at critical juncture

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New U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone’s first challenge will be to confront the fallout over the federation’s widely condemned legal stance in the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the women’s national team.

The first woman president in the 107-year history of the governing body will also oversee the appointment of a new chief executive and early preparations for the 2026 World Cup.

A former national team midfielder who became the federation’s vice president last year, Parlow Cone took on her new role Thursday when President Carlos Cordeiro abruptly stepped down.

Cordeiro was facing a growing outcry from players, board members, supporters and sponsors over assertions made in court documents filed this week. USSF lawyers suggested the women’s team was inferior because the players had fewer responsibilities and less physical skill than male national team counterparts.

Former teammates rallied in support of Parlow Cone, who has the unenviable task of damage control.

“I have known Cindy Parlow Cone for over two decades as both a teammate and friend. She has always led with integrity and a commitment to others. I have no doubt that she will dedicate herself to making our game better for all,” Mia Hamm said on social media.

Fellow teammate Julie Foudy wrote: “I played with Cindy for many years. I know Cindy. She understands ALL the players are going through having lived it. And she is one hell of a human. Give her a chance to succeed. Please.”

Now 41, Parlow Cone scored 75 goals in 158 appearances for the U.S. from 1995 to 2006, winning the 1999 World Cup and two Olympic gold medals with the team. She retired because of post-concussion syndrome.

She was coach of the Portland Thorns during the National Women’s Soccer League’s inaugural season in 2013, leading the team to the league’s first title before stepping down to spend time with her family.

She was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2018, and was voted in as USSF vice president in 2019.

Parlow Cone will serve as president until the federation’s annual general meeting next February. An election will be held then to complete Cordeiro’s term, which runs until the regular election for a four-year term in 2022.

Parlow Cone takes on the presidency at a critical juncture. USSF is currently conducting a search for a new CEO to replace Dan Flynn, who retired last September. Brian Remedi is currently serving as chief administrative officer in addition to chief stakeholder officer.

The federation is also in the midst of early preparations for the 2026 men’s World Cup with Canada and Mexico. An expanded field of 48 teams will play in 16 cities across the three countries.

But her most pressing issue is to contain the furor over the USSF’s legal stance in documents filed Monday in federal court in Los Angeles. The documents were filed in connection to the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by women’s national team players last year.

The players say they have not been paid equally to the men’s national team and asked for more than $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . A trial is scheduled for May 5.

Sponsors including The Coca-Cola Co., Anheuser Busch Cos. Inc., The Procter & Gamble Co. and Volkswagen Group issued statements in support of the women’s team. MLS Commissioner Don Garber, a USSF board member, said he was “shocked and angry” over the arguments and Parlow Cone herself denounced the legal stance on Twitter.

National team players silently protested by wearing their jerseys inside out in warmups before a match against Japan on Wednesday night in Texas. The move obscured the U.S. Soccer crest but still revealed the team’s four stars for its Women’s World Cup championships.

Cordeiro apologized for the stance, saying: “I did not have the opportunity to fully review the filing in its entirety before it was submitted, and I take responsibility for not doing so. Had I done so, I would have objected to the language.” But it was too late.

In her only public statement since becoming president, Parlow Cone thanked Cordeiro for his service to soccer. Cordeiro, formerly the organization’s vice president, was elected president after Sunil Gulati resigned because the men’s team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“The passion that has come to the surface in the past two days is what inspires me to look forward, to work hard towards mending relationships and moving the game forward for all,” she said in a statement issued by the federation.

Former U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, a vocal critic of U.S. Soccer, said she hoped the change at the top leads to change within the organization.

“This blatant disrespect and sexist attitude toward the women’s team is nothing new. It didn’t start with Carlos and won’t end with his resignation,” Solo said. “It’s been in place for decades, was perpetuated under Sunil Gulati and was tolerated by so many within the organization. For meaningful change to happen, it has to be institutional. Carlos cannot just be a scapegoat for U.S. Soccer’s PR strategy.”

Five honored with National Soccer Hall of Fame status

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Don Garber, Brad Friedel, Cindy Parlow Cone, Tiffeny Milbrett, and Robert Contiguglia have been announced in this year’s class of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

The induction will occur Oct. 20 as part of Hall of Fame weekend in Dallas, with FC Dallas facing Sporting KC.

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Friedel is the current coach of New England Revolution, who are off to a surprising start. The longtime Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper was capped 82 times by the USMNT in a playing career which also included time with Liverpool, Galatasaray, Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, and Columbus Crew.

Parlow Cone scored 75 times in 158 USWNT caps, successfully transitioning to a coaching career which includes the 2013 NWSL title for the Portland Thorns.

Milbrett, 45, bagged 100 goals for the USWNT in 206 caps. She scored seven goals across three World Cups.

Contiguglia is a former USSF president who served from 1998-2006, a wildly successful time for the game.

MLSSoccer.com points out that current MLS commissioner Garber was elected in 2016, “but opted to defer his enshrinement” until the new Hall of Fame was completed in Dallas.

US Soccer fires USWNT coach Tom Sermanni after win over China

Tom Sermanni
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Tom Sermanni was fired by US Soccer after just over a year on the job in a surprising move announced Sunday night.

Sermanni’s 15 months as head coach of the United States women’s national team will be remembered as a tumultuous time. Sure, there were plenty of whispers of discord, but there had to be an adjustment period. The connected folks I’ve reached out to were surprised by the news, if not “shocked.”

The firing comes mere hours after Sermanni’s women beat China 2-0 in the first of two international friendlies against the Asian side, completing his tenure with a record of 18W-4D-2L.

The statements from US Soccer president Sunil Gulati and Sermanni:

“We want to thank Tom for his service over the past year and half, but we felt that we needed to go in a different direction at this time. We will begin looking for a new coach immediately to guide our Women’s National Team toward qualifying for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.” — Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer president

“I’m disappointed that things didn’t work out, but I’d like to thank U.S. Soccer for the opportunity to have coached this team and also the staff and players for all their hard work.” — Sermanni

Bears a scent of the players running the ship, that’s for sure.

The Washington Post’s Steve Goff says the US has named Jill Ellis the interim coach for Thursday’s match in San Diego. Ellis was the interim boss when Pia Sundhage stepped down, and boasts a 5W-2D-0L record that includes three wins over China.

Under Sermanni, the States saw its 43-match unbeaten run end en route to a very disappointing seventh-place finish at the Algarve Cup. They lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2001 before saving a little face with a win over North Korea.

How changed is the list of potential candidates discussed the last time the job was open? Paul Riley, Randy Waldrum and Tony DiCicco will see their names in the news along Aaran Lines and Cindy Parlow Cone.

And how about Ellis? She’s been the USSF Development Director since 2010 and boasts a college head coaching record of 248W-14D-63L at UCLA and Illinois before coaching the US U-20 and U-21.

Regardless, surprise is reverberating around US Soccer:

U.S. federation announces another strong National Soccer Hall of Fame nominee class

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Another tough round of voting is ahead as the final list of nominees was announced for the National Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2014.

In its release today on the nominees, U.S. Soccer says voting will begin immediately in three categories: Player, Veteran Player and Builder. Voting continues through Feb. 7.

Hall of Fame voters – including coaches and officials from the pro game, U.S. Soccer coaches and officials, designated media members and Hall of Famers – can list up to 10 candidates on their ballot. For the Player category, athletes appearing on two-thirds (66.7 percent) of voter ballots are elected. Players not appearing on at least five percent of ballots will be subtracted from the ballot (pending availability for the Veterans ballot.)

It’s not easy to gain the needed percentage. Two years ago only four players were selected: Tony Meola, Claudio Reyna, Tony DiCicco and Desmond Armstrong. A year ago only two made the cut: Joe-Max Moore and Peter Vermes.

These really are tough choices. On this ballot there are guys who were first to important MLS scoring mileposts (Jason Kreis), guys that surely would have caught up with them but for career-ending injuries (Taylor Twellman) guys who accomplished so much despite unfortunate injuries (John O’Brien), plenty of women’s players who won multiple World Cups or Olympic golds (Kristine Lilly and Brianna Scurry just to name a couple), guys who scored huge World Cup goals (Clint Mathis, Brian McBride — pictured above), huge MLS international stars (Marco Etcheverry) … and the list goes on.

In fact, here’s the entire list:

2014 National Soccer Hall of Fame Player Ballot

  • Chris Armas
  • Raul Diaz Arce
  • Marco Etcheverry
  • Lorrie Fair
  • Robin Fraser
  • Chris Henderson
  • Zoran Karic
  • Chris Klein
  • Jason Kreis
  • Eddie Lewis
  • Kristine Lilly
  • Kristin Luckenbill
  • Shannon MacMillan
  • Kate Sobrero Markgraf
  • Clint Mathis
  • Brian McBride
  • Jaime Moreno
  • Victor Nogueira
  • John O’Brien
  • Ben Olsen
  • Cindy Parlow Cone
  • Steve Ralston
  • Ante Razov
  • Tiffany Roberts
  • Tony Sanneh
  • Briana Scurry
  • Taylor Twellman