Editorial (May 7, 2017) – Grant Wahl of SI.com reported this week that the U.S. Soccer Federation is operating with approximately $100 million in surplus. About $46 million of that came from the United States hosting the Copa America Centenario last year. The other half came from other operations (no news yet on how much from each of USMNT, USWNT, friendlies, etc.) as far as we know.
Three Out Of The Box Ideas For The US Soccer $100 Million Surplus
A lot of the ideas have been good, but a bit obvious: Resolve the equal pay dispute with the Women’s team, spend it on development, spread it around. Theses are all great ideas. Here’s three out of the box and specific ideas for the money:
Youth Development Regional Training Centers:
The Grant Wahl article suggested U.S. Soccer could be putting money towards a national training facility. Fans and youth coaches have salivated over the facility being built in Kansas City.
It makes sense to have a national training facility, but why not make regional centers as well? Upgrade or expand the facilities in Bradenton, FL. U.S. Soccer uses the StubHub Center and surrounding amenities for various teams. Work with the Galaxy to expand or create a section specifically for the Federation. Create more than one center like the one in Kansas City. Use them as regional training centers for player and coaching development.
Maybe they could even turn these into central locations for the different teams. Maybe the senior teams permanently make KC their home for camps and training. The U-20s could make Bradenton theirs. Build a center in the Northeast to give that region a hub.
The Kansas City training center is set to cost $80 million. If U.S. Soccer is just renovating a few existing facilities and building a smaller one, they’ll still have a good amount of money left over.
Stimulus Funds For Lower Division Teams/Leagues:
We’ve seen lower division teams have financial issues in the past. We’ve also see them just need a bit of investment in order to make a big leap: an ownership group get a solid lower division stadium, an NPSL team ready to make the jump to the USL or NASL with a bit of capital.
Voters and citizens in markets like these can be skeptical of public tax money investments into these projects. Perhaps U.S. Soccer could set aside some of this money to act as a bank for some of these teams who can’t find other means to progress. Loan the money out to a lower division team for a stadium and have them pay it back over time. Make it possible for teams to get Rainy Day money as well.
I wouldn’t want this to turn into a Rainy Day fund for fiscal irresponsibility (Ex: the New York Cosmos and the NASL). There would have to be very specific requirements for teams to get access to this money. But if a $10 million loan to the USL helps them lock down DII status for good, it’s well worth it.
A Network For The National Team And Yanks Abroad:
Americans are still struggling to establish themselves internationally. Especially those born and groomed in the States. Juan Agudelo was never able to get settled before coming back to MLS. It took DeAndre Yedlin a few years to get regular minutes in England, and even now he’s in the Championship. With how wide spread the USMNT pool is, Bruce Arena and company are all over the map (or the film room) keeping up with their players.
What if U.S. Soccer hired personnel to be in charge of particular regions for the Yanks abroad? Keep up with the league and the national team eligible players. Report back to Arena (or the relevant youth team coach) on their progress. Scout players that are eligible for the national team and send relevant info to the coaches. Be a liaison to players and coaches back home who are looking to make a move to that region.
Imagine Steve Cherundolo holding that position for the Bundesliga. He could be the first person Arena contacts when he wants a general update on the Americans playing in the league. He’s the first person an agent contacts when their MLS-based player is thinking about making a move. He could provide great advice to a teenager looking to join an academy program in Germany.
Now imagine a representative like that for Liga MX, the top European leagues, Scandinavia as a whole, the Eredivisie, Série A in Brazil, etc. This could be tremendous for the growth of Yanks playing abroad.