What exactly will U.S. Soccer's new GMs do? CEO Dan Flynn explains

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United States Soccer Federation CEO Dan Flynn looks on during the U.S.’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras. He has been with U.S. Soccer since 2000. (Getty)
United States Soccer Federation CEO Dan Flynn looks on during the U.S.’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras. He has been with U.S. Soccer since 2000. (Getty)

It will be the first major move of the Carlos Cordeiro administration, a process that began in earnest before U.S. Soccer’s new president took office, but one that is now truly taking shape: the hiring of general managers.

U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn, along with director of sporting development Ryan Mooney, met with reporters via conference call on Wednesday to detail that process, and to clarify what exactly the GMs – one on the men’s side, one on the women’s side – will be responsible for.

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The truncated version of the job description, per Flynn, includes the “hiring and firing of national team coaches,” an “overall responsibility for the technical side of the senior team,” the building of a “strong, integrated national team staff,” the “management of the day-to-day environment,” the “monitoring of the player pool, and integration of new players.”

A key point is that the general managers, who will report to the CEO, will be responsible for senior national team matters. They’ll have only “indirect input on the player development side.” The federation’s next wave of youth initiatives will fall into the hands of others. “We’re working on the next evolution of our technical side,” Flynn said. He declined to go into specifics.

In general, Mooney said, the GM role falls in line with other “technical lead” positions the federation has established. It’s about having someone “that is less engaged with the teaching of the course or the scouting of a game, so they can be more of a strategist, more of a thinker, more of a leader and manager of a framework and of a system.”

Mooney has studied the methods and approaches of other national soccer federations, such as Germany’s and Belgium’s. “We’ve established relationships, tried to understand their processes,” he said. Some aspects of U.S. Soccer’s GM position will be similar to that of, say, Oliver Bierhoff’s in Germany, but, according to Mooney, “these roles are not like for like with what it is that Oliver does with the senior team or on the academy side.”

The GM positions were created by the United States Soccer Federation board of directors in January. They’re positions Cordeiro, previously U.S. Soccer’s vice president, had pitched publicly ever since announcing his presidential candidacy. “I think we need two general managers,” Cordeiro told Yahoo Sports in December, “to look after their respective parts of the soccer universe.”

The men’s GM will “most likely” be the first hire, according to Flynn, because the men’s national team is currently without a head coach. But there is not yet a specific timetable for when either hire will be made.

The hiring process will be managed by a six-person committee, comprising four USSF employees and two athlete representatives from the board of directors. Those six people are Flynn, Mooney, USSF CCO Jay Berhalter, USSF sport development program director Nico Romeijn, and Athletes’ Council members Carlos Bocanegra and Angela Hucles.

That committee will then choose a candidate, recommend him or her to the board, and the board – now chaired by Cordeiro – will ratify the hire. Cordeiro, though, has already been part of the hiring process, which is still in the early stages. Flynn clarified that he met with Cordeiro last week in Chicago.

As for who the new GM will be, Flynn said that “there is fertile territory in Major League Soccer,” but said the committee is “looking beyond” MLS as well, “in other parts of the world.”

He did, though, say, “We think it’s pretty darn important that the general managers understand our leagues – plural, leagues – in our country and how they operate, [and] what the player development model is on the domestic side.”

When asked how the search committee, which includes nobody from outside the U.S. Soccer/MLS sphere, would ensure it is casting a wide enough net, Flynn responded, “We’ve talked with other people from around the world … and the board was very thorough in their approach to” choosing the committee. “So we’ve covered that aspect of it.”

As for how long U.S. Soccer envisions a single GM being in place, Flynn said, “the general manager role is an organizational position. It is a long-term role. As for who fills that role, it may change from time to time, when you project 10, 20 years down the road.”

Flynn largely stayed away from specifics when pressed on the role of the GMs. Asked how they would work together with national team coaches on the “monitoring of the player pool, and integration of new players,” as per his earlier job description, he said, “it’s something they’ll both be very aware of, and it’s something obviously that they’ll have to work out. … I think the player pool is more general manager, and who actually plays is probably more coach. But the cadence will have to be worked out during the hiring process.”

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer, and occasionally other ball games, for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.

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