USSF Quietly Going About the Job of Running the D-2 Pro League
When US Soccer president Sunil Gulati announced in a press conference last January 7th that they had come to an agreement to run the 2nd-division soccer league in the US for the year 2010, he also made a few comments about the future of the league.
“Our goal is to have a stable, professional soccer environment in the U.S,” said Gulati. “I think we’ve been able to accomplish that with MLS over the last 14 years, and with the exception of one year, there has been a steady growth of the teams in terms of interest. We want to make sure that we can accomplish that through all of our other professional leagues, which are different from youth soccer or amateur soccer. In the next few months we’ll be laying out some regulations, rules and standards. We’ll put a little more substance into it about what a second division should look like. Everyone has agreed that that’s important and we’ll be working on that. For us, the most important thing here is long-term stability. What we think we’ve achieved today is a short-term solution for the 2010 season, but we want to work with a number of people and all the teams to find a long-term solution so we don’t have teams changing back and forth between divisions. We’re extremely excited about this agreement and certainly about 2010 overall for the sport in the U.S.”
Brian Remedi is the Chief Administrative Officer with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). He works under Dan Flynn who is the CEO/Secretary General of the Federation. Remedi’s job is to work with everything as it relates to the Federation which includes marketing, legal, administration, player development, coaching and more. He has been with US Soccer for only 6 months but Remedi is no stranger to the organization. This is his second stint with the governing body of soccer in the US. He was previously with the Federation from 1995-99 working in communications. Remedi’s last year with the organization was spent as the media officer for the senior men’s team, the same position Michael Kammarman currently holds.
Remedi recently visited the National Sports Center along with Jeff L’Hote who is a consultant for US Soccer. The two took in a Stars game and met with the NSC Stars staff. Remedi took some time from his busy schedule to answer some questions IMS had for the US Soccer executive.
IMS: I understand you are visiting each team in the USSF D-2 Pro League. Have your bosses, Sunil Gulati and Dan Flynn, sat down with you and made a checklist of things you are looking for? Are you on a fact-finding mission? What exactly are you looking for in these teams?
Remedi: We are doing something that the Federation has never done in great detail before. We are getting out and looking at the teams in Division 2. In years past we left it up to the league administrators to ensure their clubs were meeting minimum standards and that games were run appropriately. Because we are running the league now we want to get out and make the house calls. We want to check in with these teams and want to make sure they have whatever they need from us. We want to make sure that they are upholding their end of the bargain in terms of creating an atmosphere that’s beneficial not only to their local fans but also for the game as a whole.
IMS: Can you name a few specifics of things you are looking for?
Remedi: Are they staffed properly from a security point of view? Is the visiting team treated in the same way the home team is treated? Is there a referee liaison to make sure when referees come on site they are taken care of and they receive the things they need to do their job correctly.
We are also looking under the hood from a marketing perspective, from a financial perspective, even from a ticketing perspective. Our goal is to ensure these teams are viable for the long term.
IMS: Is there any information that you are trying to give to the teams as an education process?
Remedi: Absolutely! It’s a give and take. We’re not here with mandates. No one is scared to know we are coming. We aren’t just showing up. We’re informing the teams a week or two before we arrive. We tell them what we are looking for and for the most part were trying to listen as well, finding out what the teams’ needs are. Just today we sat down with Minnesota and found a couple, albeit small, items that Minnesota feel are important to them. We’ll go back to Chicago tomorrow and try to change a few things to make it better.
IMS: So I take it part of what you are doing is making sure each team you’re looking at is viable for next year and considering which teams may not be when you hand the league over to someone else.
Remedi: It’s in our interest to make sure that there are division 2 markets that are going to be sustainable over the long haul. Not a short term 1-year or 2-year thing. We want these markets to be sustainable for long periods of time. So we are collecting information on the team and from the team and we will give some thought to that data and will be writing reports and giving it to our professional league task force who ultimately will make a recommendation to our board of directors. We assume that there will be at least one, two, possibly more entities applying for sanctioning for next year and we believe that the teams that will be part of that league will come out of the 12 teams that are in the USSF D-2 Pro League this year.