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“Hopeful” Commisso extends deadline for $500m NASL restoration

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New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso tells ProSoccerTalk that he has extended his deadline in regards to his $500 million investment offer to fund a resurgent North American Soccer League.

Why? Well, for one, Commisso feels that progress is being made, so much so that he’s willing to characterize his outlook as “hopeful.”

“There’s been a lot of back-and-forth, they basically said they can’t get everything done by the 31st and they need more time and that’s the reason why we changed the deadline,” Commisso said.

U.S. Soccer told the NASL it could not meet prior to the June 13 vote regarding 2026 World Cup hosting. In extending his deadline to May 31, Commisso is asking for a few commitments from U.S. Soccer.

Commisso wants U.S. Soccer to commit to a board meeting with a “yes or no” vote no later than June 29, and wants U.S. Soccer to provide a list of prerequisite actions needed to have such a decision on his proposal at said meeting. And he wants a commitment from U.S. Soccer to stick to the timeline.

So what’s the impetus for Commisso’s hopeful nature?

“They’ve showed some good faith and I’m willing to move if they’re willing to do X, Y, and Z. It’s a moving thing and I’m being flexible to their asks and to see at what point and time they’re going to come up with something else.”

Commisso said his deadlines have not been about putting pressure on USSF, rather the many things he’d have to do to get the NASL back on the field by March 2019 for a season with a minimum of 10 teams, which would be sanctioned as D-2.

Additionally, the 10-year runway would include D-1 sanctioning in 2020 with a minimum of 14 teams, a minimum of 10,000-seat stadia, a minimum of three time zones represented, as well as a plan to introduce promotion and relegation in said top flight.

He’d also need multi-team ownership to start, but said that would be solved by independent ownership at the end of the 10-year runway, if not sooner, with all teams meeting the current Professional League Standards for D-1.

“I’m asking for the 10 years, let’s be clear,” Commisso said. “If you read our original letters, we’ve always asked for the ability of multi-ownership. We put out a chart that goes back all the way to 1996 that shows the transition from 1996 to 2011, that during those periods there were certain owners with multi-teams. In 2003, three guys owned the entire league, so that’s what I’m asking for.”

Commisso said that, like the MLS build-up in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there would be safeguards in place to maintain sporting integrity, and that his full 2019 roster of clubs would be finalized by Sept. 20, with the NASL’s league ops fully restored by New Year’s Eve. There’s also an ask of commitment from USSF to address governance issues by February 2019.

The $250 million he’s investing is joined by $50 million each from Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva and Jacksonville Armada owner Robert Palmer, plus help from “leading Wall Street banks.”

The NASL has already identified 12 potential clubs, 11 of which are in metropolitan areas with populations above one million. The investment would go to building modular soccer-specific stadia in some markets, and his league would put an emphasis on youth development and domestic players.

“I’m hopeful that the leadership of U.S. Soccer sees in the largest investment ever proposed by a single individual for the benefit of American soccer getting this through as quickly as possible.”

New US soccer GMs to report to CEO, not president

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CHICAGO (AP) The new general managers of the men’s and women’s national teams will report to U.S. Soccer Federation chief executive officer Dan Flynn and not new USSF president Carlos Cordeiro.

The new positions were approved by the USSF board of directors in December and Flynn said understanding of the U.S. leagues in a key attribute for candidates. The new men’s GM likely will be hired first and will head the search for a new men’s coach to replace Bruce Arena, who quit in October after the Americans failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Flynn is on the search committee that will recommend the candidates for the new roles to the USSF board. He is joined on the committee by USSF board members Carlos Bocanegra and Angela Hucles, chief operating officer Jay Berhalter, director of sporting development Ryan Mooney and sport development programs director Nico Romeijn.

“The main responsibilities will include hiring and firing of the senior national team head coaches, overall responsibility for the technical side of the senior team, build a strong, integrated national team staff and management of the day-to-day environment, and monitor of the player pool and integration of new players,” Flynn said.

The U.S. could consider coach candidates from among people working on national teams for this year’s World Cup.

“I don’t think that’s going to hinder us in any way in terms of identifying candidates and speaking to candidates,” he said. “The timing of the hire could be impacted by that.”

Cordeiro was elected Feb. 10 after Sunil Gulati decided not to seek a fourth four-year term.

Hope Solo says Athletes Council “cracked under pressure”

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There was a solid mix of outrage and displeasure in Saturday’s U.S. Soccer presidential election outcome, and one of the candidates that came out on the losing side of things was “very disappointed” in the Athletes Council, which helped steer the eventual winner to victory.

[ MORE: Salah, Firmino score as Liverpool tops Southampton ]

Carlos Cordeiro was named the successor to current president Sunil Gulati after receiving over 68 percent of the final round votes, beating out Kathy Carter and Kyle Martino — who each finished with 10.6 percent of the vote.

The Athletes Council tallied up exactly 20 percent of the overall votes during the final voting process, all of which were allocated to Cordeiro.

Former U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeper and fellow candidate Hope Solo believes the Athletes Council “cracked under pressure.”

“I’m not surprised because [the Athlete Council], under a lot of pressure, and I’ve seen athletes time and time and time again crack under pressure, crack under fear, start to behave in a way that is very much a group thinking mindset,” Solo said on Saturday following the USSF presidential decision.

“And right now in this day and age, we need individuals, we need leaders that know how to unite people, but we still have to remember to think for ourselves as individuals.

“And with the bloc vote from the Athlete Council, it was very disheartening because they represent different people, different cultures, different strengths, different weaknesses. And they don’t all have to think alike.”

Solo acquired slightly over one percent of the final round voting.

U.S. Soccer presidential candidate Q&A: Steve Gans

Steve Gans
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PST is vetting the candidates to succeed Sunil Gulati as president of the United States Soccer Federation.

This post speaks with Steve Gans — a partner at Prince Lobel Tye LLP in Boston, Mass. with extensive experience in soccer administration and representation, including helping organize Boston’s efforts to be a host city at the 1994 World Cup — about his candidacy. His website is stevegans2018.com.

Pro Soccer Talk: Hello, Steve. It’s been a long campaign for you. How do you think it’s gone so far as we head to the big election on Saturday?

Steve Gans“It’s gone really well for us. It’s been crazy because I was the first one in, I challenged Sunil last May, I announced my intention (to run) and all through the summer and last fall it looked like it would just be me and him, and then the U.S. failure to qualify (for the 2018 World Cup) happened in October, and the fallout from that has been meteoric. Sunil (Gulati is) not running and seven other people jumped in. The last few months have been crazy, messy and chaotic but it’s been good for us. We’re in really good shape and we’re really excited heading into this weekend.”

[READ: Six USSF candidates reportedly join forces against establishment candidates]

PST: Ultimately, if elected, what are the three main objectives you’d like to achieve as U.S. Soccer president?

SG: “First of all, we have to fix the problems that are ailing the game throughout – from youth to adult to national team to pro as well. One of the big themes that I hear, I’ve been on this listening tour since May, is lack of respect and lack of voice, so I want to get voice back and show that respect, because there’s so many great people in the trenches that have great experience and information that should be included and haven’t been.

“I want to solve the fractured youth landscape, put joy back in the game, we’re creating players without joy, stop the infighting between sanctioning organizations which affects both youth and adult soccer but contributes to the 75 percent attrition rate at U-13, and we need to solve that, that’s not in the best interest for the good of the game or the kid or adult players.

And we want to make us respected throughout the world. We want to improve our youth systems and our national team programs. I do a lot of international work in the Premier League and I represent Celtic FC, and what I know is we’re respected for certain reasons, but the wrong reasons.

“We’re respected for things like fan engagement, front office practices, those sorts of things, digital media. We’re not respected as a soccer nation and we need to fix those things so that we’re respected for our youth system, our development program, our national teams. I want to make us a fully and highly respected soccer nation internationally.”

PST: How much have you learned about who makes up U.S. Soccer’s delegates and constituency?

SG: “What I think is great is this is truly a national election. I’ve never run for anything (before) and I think with a national election, the country’s divided right now politically but what I find so uplifting in this regard, people who might otherwise be divided politically, the people I’ve met are all soccer people, so we all have common ground.

“The other part is I’ve been involved in the sport for 40 years, if you go back to the time I was a teenager, and there weren’t that many competent people involved in the sport, because it was kind of an outcast sport in the 1970s and early 1980s. It’s not true anymore. I’ve met so many people throughout the game who volunteer or are in the game otherwise, and they are so highly competent and they care so much for the good of the game. I’ve learned so much about that and that creates for me a tremendous amount of optimism in this regard, that we can solve these problems, because there’s so many good minds out there that want to help.

“I’ve also learned the fed hasn’t been doing things the right way because so many people feel disrespected.”

PST: Finally, what are your expectations for the election?

SG: “We think we’re in really great shape. I don’t have the money, there are four candidates who are indep financed, but what we do have is the best campaign team. I have been fortunate to have highly experienced people volunteering for me since last May. They’re incredible. I have a Harvard statistics expert doing my modeling and we think we’re in very great shape. We start out very solidly but this will be a multi-ballot race, but the (recent ESPN) article quite rightly tests out that I’m the one who doesn’t have any negatives.

“I may not be the celebrity candidate but people don’t look at me having any negative qualities. In a multi-ballot race, that favors a candidate like that every succeeding ballot because that candidate becomes acceptable and a consensus candidate. Our candidate sees us starting strongly and picking up a big amount of steam every round. We feel really good about this. Our numbers are good and the enthusiasm of delegates is good.”