U.S. Soccer hires Will Wilson as chief executive officer and secretary general

U.S. Soccer has hired Will Wilson, best known as the agent for his nephew, former NFL star quarterback Andrew Luck, as its new chief executive officer and secretary general.

Wilson fills a vacancy left by the retirement of Dan Flynn after 19 years in the position. Flynn retired in September 2019, but U.S. Soccer first hired a search firm to seek out a new chief executive officer and secretary general in November 2017. The federation changed search firms in September 2019.

U.S. Soccer secretaries general (1931-2020):
James Armstrong (1931-43)
Joe Barriskill (1943-71)
Kurt Lamm (1971-87)
Sunil Gulati, interim (1987)
Keith Walker (1987-90)
Hank Steinbrecher (1990-2000)
Dan Flynn (2000-19)
Will Wilson (2020-)

North Carolina FC Youth connection. U.S. Soccer's board of directors approved Wilson's hiring on Sunday. It comes 11 days after then-U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro resigned and vice president Cindy Parlow Cone was elevated to president amidst the fallout from the federation's legal filings in the gender discrimination lawsuit filed in federal court by members of the U.S. women’s national team.

Wilson, who resides in North Carolina, is on the board of directors with the title of "mergers and alliances" of North Carolina FC Youth, where Parlow Cone coaches. Another NCFC Youth board member, North Caroina FC and North Carolina Courage owner Steve Malik, was recently re-appointed to the U.S. Soccer board of directors as a Pro Council representative.

In a letter to members -- below -- Wilson stressed the spirit of inspiration derived from those working together in face of the novel coronavirus pandemic and working with Parlow Cone. The first item he mentioned in what he termed a "new chapter" was a resolution of the women's lawsuit.

Wilson spent four years at MLS and SUM in the position of executive vice president of international business & special events. He was hired in 2008 after 16 years with the National Football League, Champ Car World Series and Arena Football.

In his MLS and SUM position, he managed all international business relationships, including those with touring clubs Barcelona and Manchester United, the organization of the Gold Cup and the game partnership with the Mexican federation.

NFL Europe roots. Wilson, who speaks Spanish, served as managing director of NFL Mexico and oversaw all aspects of the league’s business in Latin America and before that worked with two NFL Europe League teams, the Frankfurt Galaxy and Scottish Claymores. Around the same time, MLS commissioner Don Garber became managing director of NFL International, responsible for management of NFL Europe.

"I have known Will Wilson for quite some time,” said Garber in a statement.  “He is highly respected throughout the sports business industry and is the right person at the right time to help guide U.S. Soccer.  I have confidence that he will be a collaborative and thoughtful leader and a great partner with new U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone, as the Federation manages through a multitude of crucial issues and opportunities.”  
 
Wasserman and soccer. Wilson is the brother-in-law of Oliver Luck, himself a former NFL quarterback but also an executive with clubs in NFL Europe and later the president of MLS's Houston Dynamo when it re-located from San Jose. Oliver Luck is currently the commissioner of the XFL.

Wilson joins U.S. Soccer from global sports agency Wasserman, where he served as executive vice president and co-head of football for the last eight years. He left MLS and SUM in 2012 for Wasserman to launch its NFL representation business with the signing of Oliver Lick's son, Andrew Luck, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Wasserman is highly influential in American soccer as the agency for many of the top men's and women's national team players. Wasserman players figure heavily on U.S. Soccer's Athlete Council.

Wilson was born in England and graduated from Kenyon College. He has a graduate business degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico.

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Below is a letter Will Wilson send to U.S. Soccer members on Monday:

To our incredible Insiders and fans,

First, on behalf of everyone at the U.S. Soccer Federation we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. The COVID-19 virus has presented numerous and unprecedented challenges to all people around the world, and in these times of great uncertainty we find inspiration in the way that families, friends and communities are uniting to support each other.

It is in the spirit of these ideals that we at U.S. Soccer begin a new chapter. The foundation of the sport is built on the millions of passionate and committed players, coaches, referees, administrators and supporters that make up the U.S. Soccer family, and I am honored and humbled to be entrusted with the responsibility of working with people in all levels of the game to help chart a positive path forward.

In particular, I am excited to partner with new U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone. As a woman who has experienced the sport in the United States as a player, coach and administrator at all levels, she is uniquely positioned to provide insight and direction to meet the needs of all our stakeholders.

We also must acknowledge the recent challenges the Federation is facing. Please know that we are focused on finding a resolution with our Women’s National Team so we can move forward together and continue to be a leader in advancing women’s soccer in the USA and around the world. Along with Cindy, this is one of our main priorities. 

By coming together, we can do so much more. And now is the time to unite so we can harness the spectacle of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which has the ability to catapult the sport to unmatched heights in the United States. 

The most important element we need to make these goals a reality is you, the fan. You are a vitally important part of our soccer community. Whether you are cheering on your child, refereeing a game on the weekend, coaching or playing at any level, supporting a professional club at any level, attending World Cup games or supporting your country at home in front of the TV, we know that soccer means something special to you.

As we forge ahead, we will never take for granted the immense responsibility to do what is best for the game. We have an unbelievable opportunity to build upon our past successes and achieve even more in the future. And we will do it together.

I am excited to start this new journey with you, united in our goal to make soccer the preeminent sport in the United States.

Yours in Soccer, 

Will Wilson
CEO, Secretary General
U.S. Soccer Federation

12 comments about "U.S. Soccer hires Will Wilson as chief executive officer and secretary general".
  1. Ric Fonseca, March 23, 2020 at 5:07 p.m.

    Interesting!  ...  That Pres. Parlow, with the BoD, in a short time span after she ascends to the presidency, steers the hire of Wilson!?!?!  However, I wonder if there is some sort of connection between him and Garber given that both held positions with football overseas?  And what I find even more interesting is that he has a gfraduate degree from Monterrey Tech (Mexico) and that he speaks Castellano (Castilian Spanish)  Now there's something to put in our pipes and smoke!!!

  2. Santiago 1314 replied, March 23, 2020 at 8:37 p.m.

    Hablan Castillano en Monterey?

  3. Ric Fonseca replied, March 25, 2020 at 2:59 a.m.

    Yes.  For  the uninitiated,  Castilian/Castellano is considered  " standard" Spanish.  When I visited Spain in 2003, while at a restaurant  we were Informed  that we actually spoke Castellano or Castiliam and the term  Spanish refers to a resident on Spain.   They speak several l dialects  in Spain, e.g.  Catalan (Barcelona/Catalunia) Basque in Vascangoda, etc.  So one can say that the Royal Spanish Academy of T he Spanish  Language has "okayed" that Castellano, is  the dominant dialect of Caralunia can be and is considered the "official  language"off the "Spanish (Catalan/Catalunian)  speaking countries.  Tis a long n fascinating story going back several (more than five centuries...)  


    L

  4. Bob Ashpole, March 23, 2020 at 5:46 p.m.

    First thing I see is this appears to be a "lateral transfer" from MLS to USSF. Despite the appearance, I am going to wait six months before drawing any conclusions. 

    As for his letter, I remember Cordiero's talk prior to being elected president of USSF. Action counts. Talk doesn't. 

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, March 23, 2020 at 5:49 p.m.

    Can't help acting the trial lawyer. The phrasing of this sentence is peculiar. I phrasing is not significant.

    "Along with Cindy, this is one of our main priorities." 

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, March 23, 2020 at 5:51 p.m.

    Auto correct strikes again. Should read "I hope the phrasing is not". 

  7. R2 Dad replied, March 23, 2020 at 11:56 p.m.

    sorry, phrasing tangent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHFl1z24KuY
    Yes, the wording is odd, but not Archer-levels of odd. Thankfully.

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, March 24, 2020 at 5:10 p.m.

    Great link. LOL.

  9. Alan Gay, March 23, 2020 at 6:41 p.m.

    So Cindy reports Wilson? If so, seems like he would own the lawsuit... hard to delegate that one.

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, March 23, 2020 at 6:48 p.m.

    Other way around. A criticism of Gulati was that he ran everything himself. Cordiero tried the committee approach, which from personal experience really doesn't work, unless stagnant is what you have in mind as working..

  11. Santiago 1314 replied, March 23, 2020 at 8:35 p.m.

    ahaa.. to have Sunil back again.!!!... He did everyting very Well, EXCEPT he didn't get rid of Klinsmann in Timely Fashion... Hopefully, He is running everything behind the scenes.!!!

  12. humble 1, March 24, 2020 at 11:38 a.m.

    I like this appointment.  For me, another step away from Gulati and the Chuck Blazer vortex.  Klinsmann, hopefully is far away in the rear-view mirror.  That was all on Gulati's watch.  The mess that Parlow Cone and Wilson will begin their tenure cleaning up is all on the leadership over the past decade or two.  Of course they have to put the lawsuit number one because of it's importance and because it is a distraction from the mission.  Fix it.  Move on move forward.  I like the association with NFL.  Seattle and Atlanta and the growth of MLS all show that there is NFL knowledge base and best practices that MLS can leverage.  Not for grass roots soccer, that is another matter, but for growing from the top-down, soccer as a business if you will.  As for the grass roots, youth and the part of amatuer that USSF has a say (not High School not College) let's see how the choppy waters in top level Girls youth soccer play out (ECNL v DA) as this is an indicator of what Parlow Cone and her team want to happen at the grass roots level and will likely carry over to boys.  Interesting times.  I like the new sense of urgency.  I like that Mr. Wilson basically states their number one priority in the letter.  Accountability and transparency have been missing from USSF for a long time. 

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