U.S. Soccer Federation

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USWNT lawsuit goes to trial May 5

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LOS ANGELES (AP) A judge has set a May 5 trial date for the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the women’s national team against U.S. Soccer.

District Judge R. Gary Klausner assigned the date at a hearing Monday in Los Angeles, which came less than a week after mediation between the two sides broke down.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

The players sued U.S. Soccer in March, alleging institutionalized gender discrimination that includes inequitable compensation when compared with their counterparts on the men’s national team.

The federation claims that compensation for each team is the result of separate collective bargaining agreements, and that the pay structures are different as a result.

The sides had agreed to mediate the dispute after this summer’s World Cup in France. The U.S. beat the Netherlands in July for its second straight title, and fourth overall.

The players and U.S. Soccer had requested a trial date after the Tokyo Olympics, which start July 25.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

U.S. Soccer promotes Stewart, hires alum Markgraf as USWNT GM

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The United States Soccer Federation is staying on brand and promoting from within.

USMNT general manager and program legend Earnie Stewart has been elevated to sporting director for the entire federation, and 201-times capped USWNT defender Kate Markgraf has been named general manager for the women’s program.

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“This is a great day for the Federation and for soccer in America,” said U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro in a press release. “In Earnie Stewart and Kate Markgraf, we’re keeping our commitment to ensure that soccer operations are run by soccer experts.”

“With Earnie as sporting director and Kate as the first general manager of our women’s national team, we have the leaders in place to align our technical approach, develop the next generation of players and win championships.”

That means that Stewart, 50, will be in charge of hiring his replacement.

Like most things with U.S. Soccer, both of these hires need to come with tempered response and not be held against the hires themselves.

Stewart was a force for the USMNT as a player and his post-playing career has been impressive, with stints as technical directors for NAC Breda and AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie before taking a similar post with the Philadelphia Union.

Markgraf’s resume is less traditional for the post. According to U.S. Soccer, her post-playing career has included acquiring two graduate degrees, working as a broadcast analyst — including with NBC Sports — and volunteered with four D-I women’s programs in the NCAA. Most intriguing, however, is how her academic research will play into her philosophy on developing the women’s program.

She holds two graduate degrees: a Master’s in Kinesiology and a Master’s in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research on elite athletes and the influence of Grit, a psychological metric predictive of success in elite domains, was the first of its kind and was published, with her as the co-author with her advisor, in the top Sport Psychology Academic Journal, the Journal of American Sport Psychology.

Again, two resumes worthy of acclaim, but how far did U.S. Soccer go in the interview process. That will be the key question for president Carlos Cordeiro when he joins Stewart and Markgraf on a conference call with the media at 5 p.m. ET Monday as the USSF has made some good resume hires for Stewart’s last post and the USMNT head coaching position, only to see the process scrutinized for only looking within the family. That’s also plagued the delayed hunt for a new CEO, which has inspired fan and employee protestation at the idea of elevating the USMNT head coach’s brother to the top of the organization.

Ellis stepping down as USWNT coach

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Two-time World Cup champion Jill Ellis is going out on top.

Ellis, 52, is stepping away from the United States women’s national team after 127 matches and a 102W-7L-18D record since 2014.

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The Portsmouth, England native won everything but Olympic gold with the USWNT, and was named the 2015 Women’s World Coach of the Year.

In a statement, U.S. Soccer announced that Ellis will stay with the team through the victory tour and then moved into an ambassador’s role. It also says the new USWNT general manager’s hiring is “imminent.”

From USSoccer.com:

“The opportunity to coach this team and work with these amazing women has been the honor of a lifetime,” Ellis said. “I want to thank and praise them for their commitment and passion to not only win championships but also raise the profile of this sport globally while being an inspiration to those who will follow them. I want to sincerely thank the world class coaches and staff with whom I’ve had the privilege to work – they are quintessential professionals and even better people. And finally, I want to thank the Federation for their support and investment in this program, as well as all the former players, coaches, and colleagues that have played an important role in this journey.”

Ellis sometimes confounded with her lineup choices, but ultimately did a masterful job navigating the deepest squad pool and group of egos in the world. She transitioned the USWNT from a side focused on Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd to a group that utilized a more complete attack, and won World Cups with both Wambach and Lloyd accepting super sub roles.

Who the USSF chooses to take her place will have a gigantic hill to climb, as Europe is investing heavily in women’s soccer and the sport is as competitive as ever. The new coach will also have to help keep the USWNT on track on the field as it battles the federation for equal pay and conditions.

Senator introduces USWNT equal pay bill after letter from NCAA coach

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A letter from the women’s soccer coach at West Virginia University has spurred a politician to act on behalf of the United States women’s national team.

The Mountaineers’ head coach for nearly a quarter century, Nikki Izzo-Brown wrote the missive to senator Joe Manchin following the USWNT’s fourth World Cup title, and Manchin is taking a political step in response.

[ MORE: Takeaways from USWNT win ]

Manchin has introduced a bill on the Senate floor which says federal funding for hosting the 2026 World Cup will be withheld until the USWNT is paid on equal terms with the men.

According to a Huffington Post report, the money would normally go to host cities, U.S. Soccer, CONCACAF, and FIFA.

Here’s Manchin (from NBC News):

“The clear unequitable pay between the U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams is unacceptable and I’m glad the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team latest victory is causing public outcry,” Senator Manchin said. “They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly.”

Many noted the “equal pay” chants at the World Cup final, and the USWNT has been trying to force the issue for some time.

The other part of this is that the USWNT is believed to currently be in negotiations with the federation about equal pay, and 2026 is a long way in the future. Also, it would seem likely the bill would be deemed a political ploy in the Senate, but hey, it’s something.

The news comes on the night that USWNT star Megan Rapinoe is making the rounds on several national news programs including MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

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.