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Top American referee Mark Geiger is retiring

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NEW YORK (AP) Mark Geiger, the first American to referee in the knockout stage of the World Cup, is retiring after 15 seasons in Major League Soccer.

The Professional Referee Organization, which oversees on-field officials in the United States and Canada, plans to announce Wednesday that the 44-year-old will become its director of senior match officials. He will report to former Premier League referee Howard Webb, PRO’s general manager.

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Geiger says “at 48, when the next World Cup would happen, I didn’t think I would be at the same point that I am at right now.”

He has been bothered by his left Achilles tendon.

A former math teacher from Beachwood, New Jersey, Geiger became the second American to referee at two World Cups, after David Socha in 1982 and 1986. Geiger refereed three matches at each of the last two World Cups, including round of 16 matchups between France and Nigeria in 2014, and between England and Colombia last year. He also refereed the 2014 MLS Cup final.

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

Report: USSF CEO Dan Flynn to step down in 2019

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According to a report by Washington Post reporter Steven Goff, U.S. Soccer Federation CEO and General Secretary Dan Flynn will step down from his position in the aftermath of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Flynn has been atop USSF for the last 18 years, generally credited for turning around the finances of the federation from a position of instability and insecurity to generate a $150 million reserve fund.

The 63-year-old has been a source of stability for U.S. Soccer over the past two decades despite multiple changes around him. He began serving with U.S. Soccer back in 1994 when he left his position as president of Anheuser-Busch and worked on the United States’ production of the World Cup that summer. After that, he served as Chief Administrative Officer and as Chief Operating Officer until his hiring as CEO in 2000.

The report states that Flynn will assist in the transition to his successor after stepping down. While no timetable is given for his departure other than to suggest it will take place during the 2019 calendar year, the report states that it is unlikely that he will leave before the end of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Flynn was the genesis of the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, TX and is the federation’s highest paid employee.

US Soccer begins interviewing candidates for head coach

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Earnie Stewart was hired as U.S. Soccer general manager on June 6. It’s about time.

Exactly five days before the one-year anniversary of the loss to Trinidad & Tobago, U.S. Soccer has announced Stewart has begun to interview candidates for the vacant United States head coaching position.

The USMNT has been without a permanent head coach since October 13 when Bruce Arena resigned three days after the fateful loss in Couva. Dave Sarachan has been proceeding as interim head coach for much of that vacancy, but he is only considered a fringe candidate for the permanent position. U.S. Soccer has taken a significant amount of criticism for the length of time it has taken to even begin the interview process, with many pleading with the federation to solidify the position and help the federation move on from the disaster a year ago.

ESPN’s Doug McIntyre reports that Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter, whom many believe to be a serious candidate for the position, gave a “no comment” when asked if he has been interviewed. Meanwhile, Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep reported that while Stewart had suggested interviewing just one candidate was a possibility, they have multiple candidates lined up for interviews during this process.

There are no other significant reports of those who may be involved, but others who have received significant mention in the past have included former New York Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch, current Sporting KC boss Peter Vermes, Toronto FC and head coach Greg Vanney. Others who have been brought up include Atlanta United boss and former Argentina head coach Tata Martino, former Portland Timbers manager Caleb Porter, and current U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos.

World Cup host Putin gives Trump a ball

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HELSINKI (AP) Riding high after hosting a successful World Cup, Russian President Vladimir Putin brought a special gift to his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump: a soccer ball.

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After a journalist asked a question at their joint press conference Monday in Helsinki using soccer metaphors, Putin pulled out a red-and-white ball and tossed it at Trump, at the neighboring podium.

Trump said he’d give it to his 12-year-old son Barron, a soccer fan. Then the U.S. president tossed the ball to his wife Melania, sitting in the front row.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Putin critic, tweeted: “if it were me, I’d check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.”

Russia’s organization of the monthlong World Cup, which ended Sunday, won wide praise.

Ranking potential host cities for 2026 World Cup

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With the excitement of the 2026 World Cup being awarded to the United States of America, Canada and Mexico, a lot of the focus has already switched to one thing: where will the games be played?

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Given the huge distances between potential host cities, the envy of certain stadiums being on the list of 23 potential venues is very real across some parts of the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

But with that initial list of 23 cities set to be whittled down to 16 in the coming years, and the likes of Vancouver and Chicago not even making that final list as both pulled out, it is a ridiculously tough decision to finalize where the World Cup games will be played.

Below is a ranking of the potential 23 host cities, with seven to miss out.

With the joint bid involving the USA, Mexico and Canada but 60 of the 80 games to be played in the U.S., you would think that a fair distribution of 10 U.S. cities and three each for Mexico and Canada is what the bid is looking at as their aim is to reach as many people as possible across all three countries.

But, when you think about it, maybe 12 U.S. cities and two each from Mexico and Canada would work a little better. With that in mind, we have two scenarios below as the geography of spreading the games out across North America is extremely tough. 

Here’s a look at where we think the games will be played during the 2026 World Cup but, of course, a lot can change in the next eight years…


Scenario 1 – (10 U.S. cities, 3 Mexican cities, 3 Canadian cities)

  1. New York/New Jersey – MetLife Stadium
  2. Mexico City – Azteca Stadium
  3. Toronto – BMO Field
  4. Los Angeles – Rose Bowl
  5. Boston – Gillete Stadium
  6. Miami – Hard Rock Stadium
  7. Dallas – AT&T Stadium
  8. Washington D.C. – FedEx Field
  9. Atlanta – Mercedes Benz Stadium
  10. Montreal – Olympic Stadium
  11. Monterrey – Estadio BBVA Bancomer
  12. San Francisco/San Jose – Levi’s Stadium
  13. Guadalajara – Estadio Akron
  14. Kansas City – Arrowhead Stadium
  15. Seattle – CenturyLink Field
  16. Edmonton – Commonwealth Stadium

Seven cities to miss out

  1. Philadelphia – Lincoln Financial Field
  2. Houston – NRG Stadium
  3. Baltimore – M&T Bank Stadium
  4. Cincinnati – Paul Brown Stadium
  5. Denver – Mile High Stadium
  6. Nashville – Nissan Stadium
  7. Orlando – Camping World Stadium

Scenario 2 – (12 U.S. cities, 2 Mexican cities, 2 Canadian cities)

  1. New York/New Jersey – MetLife Stadium
  2. Mexico City – Azteca Stadium
  3. Toronto – BMO Field
  4. Los Angeles – Rose Bowl
  5. Boston – Gillete Stadium
  6. Miami – Hard Rock Stadium
  7. Dallas – AT&T Stadium
  8. Washington D.C. – FedEx Field
  9. Atlanta – Mercedes Benz Stadium
  10. Houston – NRG Stadium
  11. San Francisco/San Jose – Levi’s Stadium
  12. Philadelphia – Lincoln Financial Field
  13. Montreal – Olympic Stadium
  14. Monterrey – Estadio BBVA Bancomer
  15. Kansas City – Arrowhead Stadium
  16. Seattle – CenturyLink Field

Seven cities to miss out

  1. Baltimore – M&T Bank Stadium
  2. Denver – Mile High Stadium
  3. Cincinnati – Paul Brown Stadium
  4. Nashville – Nissan Stadium
  5. Orlando – Camping World Stadium
  6. Edmonton – Commonwealth Stadium
  7. Guadalajara – Estadio Akron