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FourFourTwo's 31 Most Powerful People in U.S. soccer: 5-1

Mirror, mirror, on the wall: Who's the most powerful of them all?

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We've been counting down the 31 most powerful people in soccer in the United States (the full list is here) and it brings us to this moment: The five most powerful people in all the land.

Who is No. 1? We know you want to know, and that you probably have a good guess of the two people it came down to. First, however, we continue traveling through our list with a trio of names who have more power than you probably realize:

5. Mark Abbott

Major League Soccer's initial employee has been the league's true MVP for 23 years and counting, and if he's No. 2 in the hierarchy, behind Commissioner Don Garber, nobody else is more indispensable. Abbott, MLS' president since 2006 and deputy commissioner since 2013, has been described as American soccer's “smartest person in the room,” and he has provided the league's foundation since creating the league's original business plan while working as an associate of then-U.S. Soccer president/MLS founder Alan Rothenberg at the Los Angeles-based Latham and Watkins law firm.

Abbott has been part of MLS since 1993, three years before play began, and his primary focus during his first two decades in the league concerned business, legal and financial matters. Those are still on his docket, but his purview has grown in the past few years to cover pretty much everything that composes MLS. He's in charge of league operations and competition, directly overseeing (and contributing within) strategic planning, product strategy, information and technology, communications, and player relations. And Abbott has Garber's ear.

Most of Abbott's work has been done behind the scenes -- he has virtually no public profile, as befits his low-key and approachable manner. But that's changing some as he spearheads MLS' expansion efforts, working hand-in-hand with prospective ownership groups, communities and government officials as the league climbs toward 28 clubs.

-- SF 

NEXT: Vaulting up the list after a TV rights coup 

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