US Soccer elects new vice president, lays out future plans, goals at annual general meeting

The selection of a new vice president was one of the major items of business as the US Soccer Federation covered a broad swath of topics and priorities on Friday and Saturday, with its annual general meeting and an accompanying board of directors meeting held in a largely online format adjusted for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bill Taylor, president of the Idaho Youth Soccer Association, won a tightly-contested vice presidential election on Saturday over retired MLS and US men's national team great Cobi Jones and two other candidates, a process that required two rounds of voting after Jones won the first poll but failed to reach the required majority of votes cast.

The election took place to fill the slot vacated when retired US women’s national team star Cindy Parlow Cone stepped up to the president position last year following the resignation of Carlos Cordeiro. Taylor will complete the three years remaining on Parlow Cone’s original term.

Friday’s BOD meeting featured a litany of updates on both senior national teams from general managers Kate Markgraf and Brian McBride and sporting director Earnie Stewart. Of particular note for MLS watchers: A full breakdown of the USMNT’s upcoming calendar, including specific dates for previously announced World Cup qualifiers.

Gregg Berhalter’s side will play 14 matches this calendar year, as well as the Gold Cup in midsummer, and at least six qualifiers in 2022. Here’s a rundown:

  • March 25: Friendly vs. European country to be announced Monday
  • March 28: Friendly at Northern Ireland
  • May 30: Warmup friendly ahead of Concacaf Nations League knockout stages
  • June 3: Nations League semifinal vs. Honduras
  • June 6: Nations League final or third-place match vs. Costa Rica or Mexico
  • June 9: Friendly vs. opponent TBD
  • July 10-Aug. 1: Concacaf Gold Cup
  • Sept 2: Octagonal round of World Cup qualifying opens at opponent TBD
  • Sept 5: Home WCQ vs. opponent TBD
  • Sept 8: WCQ at Honduras
  • Oct. 7: WCQ vs. Jamaica
  • Oct 10: WCQ at opponent TBD
  • Oct. 13: WCQ vs. Costa Rica
  • Nov. 12: WCQ vs. Mexico
  • Nov. 16: WCQ at Jamaica
  • Jan. 27, 2022: WCQ vs. opponent TBD
  • Jan. 30, 2022: WCQ at opponent TBD
  • Feb. 2, 2022: WCQ vs. Honduras
  • March 24, 2022: WCQ at Mexico
  • March 27, 2022: WCQ vs. opponent TBD
  • March 30, 2022: WCQ at Costa Rica

The AGM also included a ratification of the federation’s 2020 decision to repeal Policy 604-1, which mandated that national team players stand for the national anthem played before international matches.

Implemented in 2017 after Megan Rapinoe elected to kneel during the anthem before some USWNT games, Policy 604-1 was shelved last summer amid the burgeoning national conversation about racial justice, with Parlow Cone apologizing at the time for what she termed the federation’s lack of leadership on these matters. The federation’s voting membership ratified that move on Saturday, though several representatives expressed vocal opposition to repealing Policy 604-1.

The BOD also discussed the process of selecting host cities for the 2026 North American World Cup, to be co-hosted with Canada and Mexico. The general plan is to hold virtual meetings with the groups vying for hosting rights in the early part of this year, then conduct site visits in late summer before making final decisions by the end of 2021.

And the federation’s leadership laid out an ambitious list of long-term benchmarks and goals for the organization to pursue over the next decade. Among them:

  • Helping the USMNT, who are currently ranked No. 24 in the FIFA World Rankings, push into the top eight
  • Maintaining the defending world champion USWNT’s No. 1 spot in the women’s rankings
  • Increasing youth soccer participation in the US by 60%, from 7.5 million to 12 million
  • Increasing the combined television viewership for both senior national teams by 241%