US Soccer CEO Dan Flynn and director of sport development Ryan Mooney updated the federation’s ongoing searches for general managers for the US men’s and women’s national teams Wednesday, outlining in a call with reporters a somewhat narrow job description that is almost entirely limited to the senior national teams.
According to Flynn, the GM will be responsible for “hiring and firing senior team head coaches,” building “an integrated national team staff,” managing the “day-to-day environment” of the senior team, monitoring the player pool and integrating new players. The GMs will report directly to Flynn and not to newly elected US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro.
The GMs will not have hiring or firing power over youth national team head coaches, a US Soccer spokesman confirmed to MLSsoccer.com after the conference call. The spokesman said that US U-20 men’s national team head coach and youth technical director Tab Ramos will continue to hold hiring power for men's youth national team head coaches.
Neither the men’s nor women’s GM will oversee USSF’s youth development infrastructure, though they will be involved with broader conversations on that and other subjects with other US Soccer staffers.
“They will be responsible only in the national team environment; assistant coaches, coaches and that rather direct line, if you will,” said Flynn. “That said, if we grow the organization out it’ll probably be better explained as we build it out, but the general manager will be part of the conversation, part of the brain trust, if you will, the think tank. But right now, their focus is going to be on the hiring of the coach, his staff and be responsible for the people on the administrative side that make the team work.”
Flynn said that he expects to hire a men’s GM prior to a women’s due to the USMNT not currently having a full-time head coach. Former USMNT assistant Dave Sarachan moved into the head role on an interim basis after Bruce Arena stepped down following the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in October.
The search for both GMs has already begun, with the federation looking both within MLS and internationally for the men’s GM.
It was reported earlier in February that Seattle Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey and Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra were both approached about the men’s job, but Bocanegra later took his name out of the running. He’ll serve with fellow USSF Board of Directors member Angela Hucles and USSF staffers Flynn, Mooney, Jay Berhalter and Nico Romeijn on a committee that will interview GM candidates and eventually make hiring recommendations to the Board of Directors.
“We think that there is fertile territory in Major League Soccer,” Flynn said. “We’re looking beyond that level as well, at other parts of the world, but I want to stress the most important is to get the best candidate. I will say one thing, I think internally we think it’s pretty darn important that the general managers understand our leagues – plural, leagues – in our country and how they operate and how they work, what the player development model is on the domestic side, so I will leave it at that.”
Both Flynn and Mooney indicated that the GM role is a strategic position that could potentially have a bit of a longer leash than a national team head coach. They also said that US Soccer will continue to build out its technical staff after it hires the two GMs, though it doesn’t sound like either the men’s or women’s GMs will have full hiring power over those additional technical staffers.
“It’s a difficult ask and task for any one person to drive the entirety of what happens with soccer programming relative to US Soccer,” Mooney said. “It’s not just the complexity, it’s not just the demand and it’s not just the scope, but it’s the spectrum as well.… It goes back to the idea, as we continue assess whether it’s a (new) technical director or a role by another name, of how we can have a group of technical experts that help effectively manage all of these areas so we are not falling short.”