In a letter to U.S. Soccer members on Thursday, new CEO Will Wilson confirmed reports of significant layoffs and
furloughs as part of cost-cutting measures as well as the scaling back of the national youth team program.
"Like most businesses across the country, U.S. Soccer has not been immune to the unanticipated and harsh economic impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic," Wilson wrote. "Upon officially joining the organization just over two weeks ago, it became quickly apparent that the status quo was not sustainable for the economic viability of the federation. After extensive discussion, we concluded that we needed to act quickly and decisively in order to not put the federation in financial peril in the coming years."
The first public announcement of cuts came Wednesday evening with the decision to close the Development Academy, first launched as a national boys program in 2007.
Earlier on Wednesday, Soccer America reported that U.S. Soccer fired key executives Brian Remedi and Tonya Wallach, according to sources. In his letter, Wilson referred to a process of cuts that "also includes a few organizational changes I have made upon coming into my role" without referring specifically to these firings.
ESPN reported that the final number of layoffs and furloughs was "at around 45." Soccer America was told that the layoffs and furloughs -- the latter for those who would return when the programming they worked on resumed -- consisted of both full-time employees -- at least one with 20-plus years at the federation -- and those in the federation's "associates" program -- full-time, paid jobs that last 5-6 months and are started in alignment with programming cycles.
"The layoffs and furloughs were another challenging part of these decisions," Wilson said. "Like all of you, these are people that have been incredibly dedicated and have contributed endless hours to help soccer grow in this country."
In the shuttering the Development Academy, Wilson wrote,
"We know that discontinuing our support of the Development Academy will have a significant impact across the elite youth soccer ecosystem. While the timing is difficult, unprecedented times required us to act now, and we are committed to doing as much as we can to assist during these extremely challenging times. It won’t be easy at first, but I’m confident we will find a way through it together. At U.S. Soccer, we will also be looking at other ways to positively impact youth development moving forward, including an increased emphasis on coaching education, a more comprehensive scouting effort, and working with clubs to maintain and expand the philosophy and standards established through the Development Academies."
Wilson confirmed the report by Yahoo Sports that the men's and women's youth national team program was going to be scaled back without going into the specifics of the report.
"Since the pandemic hit, we have been scaling back our youth national team programming and will continue to do so for the balance of 2020, with the possible exception of those teams involved in actual competitions," Wilson said. "Along with Concacaf and FIFA, we will continue to monitor the possible staging of those competitions relative to the changing global COVID-19 landscape."
The Yahoo Sports report mentioned that the men's U-23, U-20 and U-17 teams and women's U-20 and U-17 teams will remain operational, contingent of working and traveling conditions.
FIFA has not decided what it will do with the two women's championships scheduled to be played in 2020: the U-20s (July 3-22 in Costa Rica and Panama) and the U-17s (Nov. 2-21 in India).
The Concacaf U-23 men's championship (Olympic qualifying) was slated to be played in Guadalajara, Mexico, in March. It was postponed after the U.S. squad coached by Jason Kreis had been picked and gathered in Guadalajara. The dates of the 2020 U-20 men's championship in Honduras (qualifying for 2021 U-20 World Cup in Indonesia) are June 20-July 5 but the tournament is expected to be postponed.
U.S. Soccer's fiscal year runs from April 1-March 31. It budgeted $4.7 million -- not including coaches' salaries -- for the nine youth national team programs that will not be operational, at least through Dec. 31.
Wilson, who held an all-staff call with federation employees on Thursday, closed his letter to federation members by saying:
"Finally, I know this has had a profound personal impact on all of us, and I want to express our gratitude to every single one of you for everything that you do each and every day for the good of the game. At the same time, I ask you to join with us in looking towards the future with confidence and optimism. We are stronger together, and if we can stand side-by-side through these tough times there is much we can do to positively impact the sport and take it to new and unimagined heights."