New York Times: Scathing Glassdoor reviews accurately reflect concerns within U.S. Soccer

The New York Times reported that anonymous employee reviews extremely critical of U.S. Soccer that appeared on the employment Web site Glassdoor in the last month "accurately reflected concerns inside the federation’s Chicago headquarters."

U.S. Soccer: Glassdoor Reviews

The New York Times report was based on what it described as telephone interviews with "several current employees at various levels of seniority."

A current employee confirmed to Soccer America in a message last week that the reviews, which picked up right after Memorial Day, had been a topic of conversation among staff around Soccer House for several weeks and "reflect the general feelings of most of the staff."

The reviews tell a story common to those with strong opinions about their current or former employer on topics such as pay, hours, work space and communication. The recent U.S. Soccer reviews commonly refer to working at the federation as a "dream job" -- a chance to work in soccer at the highest level -- but many were directed at upper management in great detail.

Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer's CEO and secretary general since June 1, 2000, announced plans to retire this year. One of the names mentioned as a possible replacement has been Jay Berhalter, the older brother of U.S. men's national team coach Gregg Berhalter and the federation's chief commercial officer.

At least four use the word "toxic" in reference to the environment at Soccer House, U.S. Soccer's Chicago headquarters. The New York Times categorized reviewers as having "open disdain for Flynn and Berhalter." One reviewer noted, "Talented people are getting crushed by this organization left and right, mainly because of being overworked, underpaid, and treated incredibly poorly by the upper management."

Flynn and Jay Berhalter, the federation's two highest-paid staff members, have worked closely for most of the last two decades. Berhalter has been highly influential in the business affairs of the federation, whose surplus has exploded in recent years.

U.S. Soccer listed its net assets in its most recent published audited financial statement (March 31, 2018) as in excess of $166 million, more than double the total only four years earlier. Much is the surplus is attributed to the federation's organization of the 2016 Copa Centenario. Berhalter served as CEO of the Copa 2016 subsidiary the federation set up.

One Glassdoor review referred to Berhalter as the federation's "defacto CEO" and another made reference to the "the self-appointed CEO."

No one from the federation would speak publicly to the New York Times in response to the reviews. A spokesperson, in a statement, acknowledged that “at the moment we are at an inflection point where we are rapidly growing as an organization, which is both rewarding and challenging. As we grow, listening to our employees and taking action where and when needed will be more important than ever.”

Soccer America was told by a federation source that the reviews reflected a concerted effort to get views out based on the advancing stage of the job search to replace Flynn.

According U.S. Soccer By-Law 501, "the Secretary General shall be appointed by the President, subject to the approval of the Board, and shall serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation."

The current BOD consists of 14 voting members. (There is currently listed a vacancy for one of the three independent director positions.)
20 comments about "New York Times: Scathing Glassdoor reviews accurately reflect concerns within U.S. Soccer".
  1. frank schoon, June 26, 2019 at 6:47 a.m.

    Hmmm, Jay Berhalter. That name sounds familiar. I wonder if this had any influence on the selection of our 
    NT coach Greg ,of course not.....I must be having cynical thoughts this morning.

  2. Bob Ashpole, June 26, 2019 at 8:08 a.m.

    It is not socially or politically healthy for USSF to be run like a privately-owned family business.

    I have no idea how USSF is actually managed, but the appearances are not good. Any governing organization should be mindful that its actions appear ethical to the public and to its employees, not just that it in fact operates ethically. Appearance is part of leadership.

  3. frank schoon replied, June 26, 2019 at 8:45 a.m.

    Bob, I leaves a bad taste in my may be nothing, but this is not good....

  4. Wooden Ships, June 26, 2019 at 8:52 a.m.

    Frank, you are so suspicious. I think Berhalter is as common as Smith or Jones, has to be a coincidence. Holland got through, whew it was close, Brutal for Japan.
    Bob, agree with your organizational analysis. Family run is (appearance) is disconcerting to say the least. Chicago (historically speaking) is a fitting setting for USSF HQ. Both in the Army and at the university level, Organizational Effectiveness were areas of study and duty, especially the former. I’m sure there are and have been positive results from the USSF growth, but you also have to ask how much have they underachieved with their model of operation. The more guarded one is does invite external cynicism. Aside from the “Board” there is no one to rectify or transform business as usual. Having said all that, as Frank et al have pointed out, where are the hard nose soccer journalists domestically. This comes from the New York Times, which is fine, but journalists in our sport have thrown softballs forever.

  5. frank schoon replied, June 26, 2019 at 9:26 a.m.


  6. frank schoon replied, June 26, 2019 at 9:34 a.m.

    Ships, As far as Holland goes...I'm embarrassed. That penalty was baloney....UNBELIEVABLE, bad call.
    The coaching was awful, their play stunk, especially in the second half. They, like the American team needs a serious coaching overhaul. also Read my comment on that Dutch woman U.S. Soccer's Mirelle van Rijbroek on DA vs. ECNL, college soccer, girls YNT scouting, and Dutch success 06/24/2019.
    I think you,me, Bob, R2, and some of the other ones combined can do a better job than what's going on out there......

  7. Wooden Ships replied, June 26, 2019 at 12:50 p.m.

    I’ve seen several PK’s that I wouldn’t have awarded, including the one called against Japan. I don’t know what to expect from officiating (with VAR) and it seems as if the game is getting further away from what the players expect. It is to some extent generational, from a playing background. No longer do referees have permission (implied) to fail and/or whistle or not, in what use to be the spirit and flow and level of the game. PK’s at one point were “had to calls”. Not anymore. Aside from the lessening of quality of play the playing and viewing rhythm has changed. I will always tune in and watch any game but it is different now. Less fun. 

  8. frank schoon replied, June 26, 2019 at 1:05 p.m.

    Ships , I agree with you....I think this VAR has opened up a bag of unforeseen circumstances. I think the VAR has assaulted,to some extend, the spirit of the game. Like you say, VAR will show you calls, that yes it was an infraction but it is not in the spirit of the game. Some of those penalties should not have been given even it perhaps was an infraction but it was so slight. With the VAR a slight infraction ruins the spirit of the game and as a result the game becomes more robotic. And a good ref is one who calls in the spirit of the game. The VAR has taken that element away...How I long for the days when we argued over a goal like the one in the '66 WC when the  England scored against Germany...was it in or wasn't it... 

  9. David Decker replied, June 26, 2019 at 2:30 p.m.

    Imagine the 1982 World cup semi final between France and West Germany that went to PKs.
    If we had VAR back then,  that match would still be going on!   Plus I'm pretty sure the German GK Harald Schumacher would have been sent off for his assault on Battiston.

  10. frank schoon replied, June 26, 2019 at 2:58 p.m.

    David ,you didn't need a VAR for that assault on Schumacher....

  11. Frans Vischer replied, June 26, 2019 at 3:53 p.m.

    I agree with you all on the spirit of the game, but... how about Maradona's Hand Of God goal vs England, '86 WC? England would've appreciated VAR there. 

  12. frank schoon replied, June 26, 2019 at 4:06 p.m.

    Frans , soccer is played by imperfect human beings and therefore imperfect refs...That's life. And if you think VAR would have settled this ,fine but I certainly don't, for look at what have it worth the cost....

  13. Seth Vieux replied, June 26, 2019 at 5:43 p.m.

    I'm not totally against VAR, but it is CERTAINLY being massively overused. I think I'm at only reviewing whether or not a ball fully crossed/ did not cross the goal line. If I thought it could reliably be reviewed 'in the spirit of the game' I might be OK with reviewing offside on scored goals, but would only want it overturned if it was a clear / aggregious mistake by the ARs. This half-inch off disallowing of goals has got to stop. I refereed from youth through college and am now training my son as a referee. The most important thing is to actually understand the somehwat intricate rule (so many people do not, even if they've played tons); feeling like the refs need to 'be invlolved' by flagging razor-thin margins slows our beautiful game down. As I tell the players I coach, "this game is beautiful and fun when the ball is moving, and terribly boring when it's not." Everytime a referee makes a call that they aren't very sure of, and that takes away the advantage of the opponent, they are slowing our game down. On the Holland v Japan call, I absolutely would have called it though. Her arm was sticking straight off her body and completely deflected a shot that was going in the net. To me that is a 'have to call.' 

  14. Wallace Wade, June 26, 2019 at 9:23 a.m.

    Glad that employees are speaking up, but this Federation has been run like the Mafia for a long, long time. They frankly don’t care what the soccer public, or the employees think. It will take a lot more than scathing reviews and news articles to stop the madness. People with warrants, badges and suboena’s will have to show up unannounced. 

  15. Ridge Mahoney replied, June 28, 2019 at 8:35 p.m.

    What crimes are being committed at Soccer House?

  16. Ginger Peeler, June 26, 2019 at 10:56 a.m.

    U.S. Soccer would be well advised to immediately adapt more transparency in their operations and publicly detach their program from any semblance of the FIFA model! However, the damage already looks to be very serious judging by the employees’ comments. Of course, it’s possible that the comments reported were just those of a few loud individuals. Often enough, a few individuals complain loudly while the majority are satisfied with the work and the environment. We’ll have to see how it shakes out. 

  17. Ben Myers replied, June 26, 2019 at 3:11 p.m.

    Ginger, or a majority are too intimidated to go public with complaints?  Seen that myself in more than one job setting with an iron-fisted boss.

  18. Ginger Peeler replied, June 26, 2019 at 5:39 p.m.,too!

  19. Kevin Leahy, June 26, 2019 at 5:36 p.m.

    Strong personalities are not encouraged except for those @ the top. It is why Tab is stuck were he is and Hugo Perez is out. Have been employed by two different approaches and find the atmosphere of inclusion to be much more productive.

  20. Thomas Hessel, June 27, 2019 at 3:01 a.m.

    I am not nearly as well versed on any of the subjects being discussed as you gentleman. That said, I know someone personally who works in the Chicago office. Mr. Wallace Wade's comments are spot on. Money makes people do things they may not normally do. 
    Too many players tried to do too much against Spain. Either that or there are some selfish players on the women's team. I don't want to believe that. Simple rule, hold the ball too long and you will loose it. 

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