Here's everything we know so far about the new USMNT, USWNT general manager jobs
U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors in December approved the creation of general manager positions for the federation’s men’s and women’s national team programs, roles which U.S. Soccer CEO and secretary general Dan Flynn says have long been in the works as part of an overall vision.
Flynn (pictured above) and director of sport development Ryan Mooney spoke to media on Wednesday in an attempt to clarify some of the ambiguity around the roles. It’s clear that some specific responsibilities will need to be worked out as the positions are filled, but the general managers will operate much like their counterparts in other federations and professional sports teams. Here’s what we know so far:
What will the general managers be responsible for?
Flynn reiterated several times that both the men’s and women’s national team GMs will “responsible only in the national team environment” for the hiring and firing of coaches and assistant coaches on the senior teams. Responsibilities regarding youth development and the overall program are both secondary and still to be determined, but Flynn noted that they will be “part of a technical conversation, a brain trust, if you will; a think tank.”
“The general manager is responsible for senior team and senior team environment in a very direct way,” Flynn said. “In an indirect way those general managers will have input on what we’re doing on the player development side.”
Added Mooney: “Managing the process, managing the system, the framework, will be critical to this person’s role.”
Mooney has spent time with the German and Belgian federations in recent years observing some of their operations.
Flynn noted that player selection is still more the job of the coach rather than the GM, but management of the player pool and other aspects of those relationships will need to be worked out.
“Cadence will have to be worked out during the hiring process,” he said.
Who is U.S. Soccer looking at to fill the roles?
There are no specific names at this time, of course, though Seattle Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey is reportedly on the short list for the men's team. Flynn, seemingly specifically alluding to the men’s national team opening, had this to say:
“We are looking for the best candidate for each of the positions. We think that there is fertile territory in Major League soccer. We’re looking beyond that as well in other parts of the world. The most important thing is to get the best candidate.
“We think it’s pretty important that the general managers understand our leagues – plural, leagues – in our country and how they operate; what the player development model is on the domestic side.”
U.S. Soccer has reached out to some people they have identified early in the process, and it has had some people reach out to the federation. Flynn said the federation may not necessarily reach out to people who are under contract elsewhere.
Who will these general managers report to?
USSF CEO/secretary general Dan Flynn.
Who is handling the hiring process?
Jay Berhalter, USSF COO
Carlos Bocanegra, USSF Board of Directors athlete rep
Dan Flynn, USSF CEO/general secretary
Angela Hucles, USSF Board of Directors athlete rep
Ryan Mooney, USSF director of sport development
Nico Romeijn, USSF director of coaching education
How soon will hires be made?
The process is underway to fill both roles, according to Flynn, who said there is “slightly” more urgency to get a GM in place for the men’s team, which also needs a head coach. Flynn made it sound like the federation could certainly make the hire before this summer’s men’s World Cup. He would not provide a specific timeline.
“Clearly we would like to move within a reasonable time frame, to get our national team coach on the men’s side on board,” he said.
Is this a knee-jerk reaction to the men missing the 2018 World Cup?
Flynn pretty strongly shot down that idea.
“As we’ve built out our technical side, we’ve had a vision of this and the board has seen various iterations of it along the way,” he said. “Nothing to do with that [World Cup qualifying failure]. It was just part of our normal process.”
Flynn went on to say that these will be long-term organizational roles, not just positions which exist in the short-term. The people who fill the positions, as with any jobs, will obviously change over time.
Still, the approval of the positions in December 2017, just two months prior to the election of a new U.S. Soccer president and two months after the men’s team’s qualifying collapse, makes for curious public-facing timing. Flynn and Mooney insist this has been in the works for some time. New president Carlos Cordeiro – who was still vice president at the time – was involved in that process and was in Chicago last week to discuss, among many topics, these roles.
Is the GM job the same on the USMNT and USWNT sides?
It’s all relative, but more or less. At a base level, the GM will manage the coaching staff, much like at a professional club. Flynn said the responsibilities will vary a little, but that is to be expected given the different structures of the teams. The women are together more often than the men, for one. And in immediate view, the women have a coach in place and a World Cup title to defend in 2019. The men are without a coach and two years away from starting a new round of qualifying.
So, what about technical directors? Will GMs have a say on the youth side?
“It’s a difficult ask and task for any one person to drive what happens for soccer programming relative to U.S. Soccer,” Mooney said, noting the federation’s needs range from grassroots to the senior national team.
“There is significant distance in what that requires on the day-to-day.”
The goal is to address all of these to not fall short on any across the entirety of U.S. Soccer.
So, in short, there will obviously be interaction between the GM and technical director – and the rest of the program, for that matter. What that looks like, exactly, is unclear at the moment.