Jay Berhalter

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Report: ‘Toxic’ environment inside U.S. Soccer sees employees rage

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According to a report by the New York Times, current and former U.S. Soccer employees have been anonymously posting scathing reviews of the organization on a networking website called Glassdoor, describing what the NYT report calls a “terrible and toxic place to work.”

The New York Times found the posts and conducted its own investigation, confirming that they accurately reflect feelings inside the organization. They anonymously interviewed current and former employees who described “a culture of fear and intimidation” that has “morale at an all-time low.”

NYT reporter Andrew Das led the investigation and uncovered what he describes as a “behind-the-scenes revolt” that is active and ongoing, with posts flowing onto the networking site even as the U.S. women compete in the Women’s World Cup. The posts began in May, Das reports, and there have been seven new writeups since the start of the event in France.

The Times report details the grumblings within the organization that has become frustrated with a hierarchy dominated by a few longtime executives who have consolidated power and do not delegate tasks to those within.

“Pay is absolutely abysmal. The hiring process is a joke,” wrote one review titled “Dream Job, Nightmare Organization.” “Talented people are getting crushed by this organization left and right, mainly because of being overworked, underpaid, and treated incredibly poorly by the upper management. This results in a lot of current employees doing one or two other jobs in addition to their own, with no pay increase, no overtime, no time off, no title change, and no recognition.”

“Stop taking advantage of people’s love for the game,” the post continued. “Just because we love soccer so much doesn’t give you the right to overwork us to the point where you make us hate it. This was my dream job.”

In a phone interview with the New York Times, an employee called the posts “a cry for help” and said they were motivated by the coming change in leadership with CEO Dan Flynn set to retire and his second-in-command Jay Berhalter – the brother of national team coach Gregg Berhalter – the favorite to take over.

“Nothing will change unless the leadership changes,” the post reads. “Bring in an outside CEO. Please, just stop it with the nepotism. There are still so many hard-working, talented people in the organization that deserve so much better than this. U.S. Soccer has so much potential to be a fantastic organization, but change needs to happen.”

“Executives are more interested in what benefits them rather than ‘making soccer the preeminent sport in America’,” another post reads.

Das writes that he reached out to U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro who said they are aware of the posts but would not comment.

U.S. Soccer ‘in final stages of hiring’ new CEO; Jay Berhalter in running

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The United States men’s and women’s national teams have started serious summer competitions, but a gigantic story may be flying under the radar thanks to the Gold Cup and Women’s World Cup.

On Thursday, the Washington Post’s Steven Goff reported that the United States Soccer Federation was “in the final stages” of hiring a replacement for outgoing U.S. Soccer Federation CEO Dan Flynn (above), and that Jay Berhalter was in the running for the gig.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Jay is the brother of Gregg Berhalter, the USMNT head coach, and Goff added this tidbit on Friday: Flynn wants the longtime USMNT executive to replace him and current USSF president Carlos Cordeiro doesn’t approve of the idea.

The appointment is done by the USSF’s Board of Directors, of whom Sunil Gulati is a non-voting member but maintains plenty of sway with the rest of the elected board.

Cordeiro can vote on the matter, as can new vice president Cindy Parlow Cone, MLS commissioner Don Garber, USL owner Alec Papadakis, and the following names listed on the USSF web page: Athlete reps Chris Ahrens, Carlos Bocanegra, and Lori Lindsey (Lindsay Tarpley Snow – Alternate); Adult Council representatives Richard Moeller, John Motta, Youth Council representatives Dr. Pete Zopfi, Tim Turney, At-Large rep Mike Cullina; and Independent directors Lisa Carnoy and Patti Hart.

Jay Berhalter has been “next man up” for the gig for some time, and his status within the organization was a constant talking point in the process of hiring a new USMNT coach. That turned out to be his brother Gregg, who has a fine resume and is 4W-2L-1T since taking the reins, but the search committee may not have spoken in-depth with some of the top available and interested names.

An odd footnote to this appointment is a burst of USSF employee reviews at the web site Glassdoor which specifically targeted executives for a poor working environment and stale atmosphere. At least 10 of the 78 reviews have come since the start of June and several have headlines along the lines of “Culture Dependent on Next CEO” and “Dream Job, Nightmare Potential.”

A couple of points from the Internet, one from former USMNT forward Herculez Gomez in December and another from longtime American soccer writer Charles Boehm.