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USSF denies Commisso’s $500 million NASL proposal

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The drawn-out feud between the U.S. Soccer Federation and the North American Soccer League (NASL) provided another blow to the latter on Friday, severely raising concerns about NASL’s future.

[ MORE: D.C. United could finalize Rooney deal by Monday ]

USSF has denied New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso’s $500 million proposal to infuse the money into NASL, as the league aimed to seek independent sanctioning.

Of the $500 million, Commisso was willing to pay upwards of half the sum ($250 million).

Commisso and NASL were seeking a 10-year runway to provide the league with enough time to achieve compliance under USSF’s Professional League Standards (PLS).

As it stands, NASL has four teams still considered to be members of the league, including Commisso’s Cosmos, Miami FC, Jacksonville Armada and expansion side California United FC.

NASL was forced to cancel its 2018 season after originally planning to move towards an international calendar and begin play in August.

USSF officer lays out duties of new general manager position

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The United States Soccer Federation’s chief sport development officer clarified the role of the soon-to-be hired USMNT general manager on Tuesday, and it’s not particularly straight-forward or encouraging.

[ MORE: Sarachan on Bradley, Altidore ]

Nico Romeijn was tasked with explaining the job description for the GM position, for which Earnie Stewart is the reported front-runner.

But there’s some confusion in the powers of the GM, a newly-created position. Part of the job duties include, according to ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, “overseeing the technical side of the senior national team — including specifying the style of play the team will implement — as well as managing the day-to-day operations of the men’s national team, driving the culture of the team, drive the process of hiring/firing the national team coach, building an integrated staff including some national team assistants, incorporating analytics and high performance, monitor the player pool, and increasing and formalizing oversight.”

Specifying the playing style sounds like a real problem, although let’s look at this hopefully: The GM should be hiring the coach, and playing style would be part of the interview process. It’s like a GM would hire Antonio Conte and then wait two weeks before saying, “Play 3 at the back and I’ll fire you.”

Here’s how it was laid out to Carlisle.

In terms of hiring and firing the senior national team manager, Romeijn stated that the GM would research potential candidates, help compile a short list, and be an important part of the interview process, but that the ultimate decision would lie with the USSF Board of Directors.

With regard to staff, Romeijn said he expected that the new manager would bring in some of his own people but that it’s not a given that all of the staff from the previous regime would be fired and thus start over from scratch.

There is a very delicate balance here, and it would be wrong to approach all of these quotes with only skeptical eyes (and yes, we know that’s very difficult given the past eight months or so).

First, keep this in mind: Imagine if U.S. Soccer hired a general manager, especially one respected here and in Europe like Stewart, but the board of directors shot down his first recommended head coaching hire? That would be monumentally embarrassing for everyone. First, for the GM, who just may quit, but also for the board who would be saying the guy they hired picked the wrong coach.

So, yeah, that’s not going to happen. In terms of Romeijn’s comments, it’s fair to assume we’re talking long term in this job description and it would be wrong to look at it in a myopic manner.

And imagine a program is doing quite well but needs a change at the top (as some would say was necessary when Jurgen Klinsmann was fired). In that instance, flipping the script on the whole project wouldn’t make a ton of sense.

All that said, it’s also fair to loathe the idea that the board still has final approval of the coach hire. A federation, like any organization, should be built on trust. If the USSF believes Stewart, or whoever, is the right guy for the job, it shouldn’t say, “Tell us who you like and then we’ll decide whether it’s a good idea.”

This isn’t a parent asking a kid what movie to rent and then deciding “Die Hard” is too profane (Yes, Mom, I’m still harboring a late 1980s VHS grudge, and also you were probably right. Yippee ki-yay, Benny Feilhaber).

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.

NASL denied injunction to obtain temporary Division II status

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The latest gut punch to a league hanging on by a thread was thrown on Friday when the North American Soccer League (NASL) was denied its injunction to obtain temporary Division II status.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit was in charge of bestowing the decision, which went in favor of the U.S. Soccer Federation — who had previously lifted NASL’s Division II standing for not meeting several criteria set forth by the U.S. Soccer Federation Board of Directors.

[ MORE: PST takes a look at which PL sides will be relegated ]

NASL and USL had previously been granted temporary Division II status, including prior to the 2017 season, however, USL is the only league currently operating under Division II sanctions heading into the 2018 campaign.

The latest decision from the Court of Appeals doesn’t affect the antitrust lawsuit currently ongoing being NASL and USSF, which was filed in 2017.

NASL is seeking to be reinstated by U.S. Soccer to be recognized with Division II priority, after allegedly being wrongfully stripped of its status. The lawsuit also alludes to a conspiracy that USSF is working in conjunction with Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing (SUM) in order to drive NASL out of operation.

As NASL is currently constructed, just six teams remain intact in the league, although Miami FC and Jacksonville Armada have pursued other opportunities while NASL awaits its future.

The New York Cosmos, Puerto Rico FC and expansion sides 1904 FC and California United FC round out the field of clubs that remain.

The league lost several of its clubs in the last 12 months due to a variety of reasons, including Indy Eleven and North Carolina FC (both of whom have entered USL) and defending NASL champions San Francisco Deltas (club folded).

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.

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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.