United States Soccer Federation

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United States Soccer Federation
United States Soccer Federation logo 2016.svg
FoundedApril 5, 1913;106 years ago (1913-04-05) [1]
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois
FIFA affiliationProvisional: August 2, 1913
Full member: June 27, 1914
CONCACAF affiliationSeptember 18, 1961
(original member) [2]
President Carlos Cordeiro
Website www.ussoccer.com

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF), commonly referred to as U.S. Soccer, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the official governing body of the sport of soccer in the United States. With headquarters in Chicago, the FIFA member governs U.S. amateur and professional soccer, including the men's, women's, youth, beach soccer, futsal, and Paralympic national teams. U.S. Soccer sanctions referees and soccer tournaments for most soccer leagues in the United States. The U.S. Soccer Federation also administers and operates the U.S. Open Cup, which was first held in 1914.

A 501(c)(3) organization is a corporation, trust, unincorporated association, or other type of organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States Code. It is one of the 29 types of 501(c) nonprofit organizations in the US.

Soccer in the United States association football practiced in the USA

Soccer in the United States is governed by different organizations. The United States Soccer Federation governs most levels of soccer in the country, including the national teams, professional leagues, and amateur leagues. The NCAA governs colleges and the National Federation of High Schools governs schools. The match regulations are generally the same between the three governing bodies although there are many subtle differences.

Chicago city and county seat of Cook County, Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,705,994 (2018), it is also the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the US, with portions of the northwest city limits extending into DuPage County near O'Hare Airport. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland. At nearly 10 million people, the metropolitan area is the third most populous in the nation.

Organization and governance

U.S. Soccer is governed by a board of directors that administers the affairs of U.S. Soccer. Individuals in key leadership positions include: [3]

Carlos Cordeiro is an American soccer administrator who is currently the president of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). On February 10, 2018, Cordeiro won the first contested election for the USSF presidency since 1998.

Daniel T. "Dan" Flynn has been the CEO and Secretary General for the U.S. Soccer Federation, the governing body for the sport of soccer in the United States, since June 15, 2000.

U.S. Soccer members comprise individuals and affiliate organizations. The national council is the representative membership body of the federation. It elects the president and vice president, amends the bylaws, approves the budgets, decides on policies adopted by the board, and affirms actions of the Board.

U.S. Soccer is a member of the worldwide soccer body FIFA and the North American soccer body CONCACAF, and also has a relationship with the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee. [5]

FIFA International governing body of association football

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association is a non-profit organization which describes itself as an international governing body of association football, fútsal, beach soccer, and efootball. It is the highest governing body of football.

CONCACAF International sport governing body

The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football is one of FIFA's 6 continental governing bodies for association football. Its 41 members include nations and territories in North America, including Central America and the Caribbean. Three geographically South American entities are also members — Guyana, Suriname, and the French overseas department of French Guiana and Martinique. CONCACAF's primary functions are to organize competitions for national teams and clubs, and to conduct World Cup and Women's World Cup qualifying tournaments.

The federation convenes in an annual meeting, usually held in February. Every four years, the annual meeting's attendees hold an election for the federation's president and vice president. [6]

Members of the U.S. Soccer Federation

USSF recognizes the following members: [7]

Professional Council

Adult Council

Youth Council

USSF State Soccer Associations

Other affiliate members


United States Soccer Federation headquarters building, known as U.S. Soccer House, 1801 South Prairie Avenue in Chicago 20070110 United States Soccer Federation.JPG
United States Soccer Federation headquarters building, known as U.S. Soccer House, 1801 South Prairie Avenue in Chicago

U.S. Soccer was originally known as the United States Football Association. It formed on April 5, 1913 [8] and on August 15 of that year was accepted as one of the earliest member organizations of FIFA and the first from North and Central America. The affiliation was temporary and at the following year's FIFA Congress in 1914, the USFA, as it was abbreviated at the time, was accepted as a full FIFA member. [9] The governing body of the sport in the United States added the word soccer to its name in 1945, when it became the United States Soccer Football Association; by this point, football as a standalone word had come to define a totally different sport in the U.S. It dropped the word football from its name in 1974 to become known as the United States Soccer Federation. [10]

U.S. Soccer has hosted several global soccer tournaments, including the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the FIFA Women's World Cup in 1999 and 2003, and the Summer Olympics in 1984 and 1996.

National teams

U.S. men's national team

The United States national team was first assembled in 1885 to play Canada in the first international match held outside the United Kingdom. [11]

The men's national team was invited to the inaugural World Cup in 1930 and qualified for the World Cup in 1934, finishing third place in 1930 out of 13 teams participating. In 1950 the United States scored one of its most surprising victories with a 1–0 win over heavily favored England, who were amongst the world's best sides at the time.

The United States failed to reach another World Cup until an upstart team qualified for the 1990 World Cup with the "goal heard around the world" scored by Paul Caligiuri against Trinidad and Tobago, which started the modern era of soccer in the United States. The 1990 men's national team was quickly disposed of at the World Cup, but nonetheless had qualified for its first World Cup in 40 years.

The United States hosted the 1994 World Cup, setting total and average attendance records that still stand, including drawing 94,194 fans to the final. The United States made a surprising run to the second round with a shocking victory over Colombia which saw Andrés Escobar, the player responsible for the United States' first goal (an own goal), later shot to death in his homeland.

1998 saw another disappointing addition to the history of the men's national team as it finished last out of the 32 teams that qualified for the World Cup. This embarrassment, which included a total collapse of team chemistry and leadership, led to the firing of manager Steve Sampson.

The U.S. team hired Bruce Arena, who had won the first two MLS Cups in Major League Soccer history, and who went on to become the most successful United States men's national team manager in history. In 2002 Bruce Arena led a mix of veterans and MLS-seasoned youth to a quarterfinal appearance, dispatching contenders Portugal in group play and archrivals Mexico in the Round of 16, before losing a closely fought game with eventual runners-up Germany in the quarterfinal.

The team looked to match or surpass that feat in 2006; the U.S. was drawn into a group with Italy, the Czech Republic and Ghana. The United States lost to the Czech Republic 3–0 in their opening game, drew Italy, 1–1, in their second game (a match that saw two U.S. players and an Italian player red carded), and lost to Ghana, 2–1. The United States did not advance out of the group, but were the only team to face eventual winner Italy without losing. In the wake of the team's disappointing performance, Arena's contract was not renewed.

Bob Bradley, Chivas USA manager and Arena's assistant manager with the men's national team, eventually succeeded Arena in 2007. The U.S. qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, [12] winning the CONCACAF qualifying tournament. At the World Cup, the Americans tied England 1–1, tied Slovenia, 2–2. and then won their group by defeating Algeria 1–0 on a stoppage time goal by Landon Donovan. In the Round of 16, the United States played Ghana, and fell 2–1 in extra time.

Entering the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the U.S team won all three friendly "send-off" matches leading up to the competition: 2–0, over Azerbaijan, 2–1, over Turkey, and 2–1 over fellow World Cup participant and defending African champions Nigeria. They were led at the time by Jürgen Klinsmann, who helped lead West Germany to victory in the 1990 World Cup and was the first player to score at least three goals in three consecutive World Cups.

During the 2014 World Cup, the U.S. won their first match against Ghana, 2–1. Clint Dempsey scored in the first minute of the match giving the U.S. the early lead. Ghana did not respond until the 82nd minute scoring the equalizer goal. The U.S. then reclaimed the lead, thanks to John Brooks scoring the game-winning goal off his head just four minutes later in the 86th minute to regain the lead and take the match. The U.S. gained three points for their win and was off to a great start in the "Group of Death" claimed by critics for the teams the U.S. would have to go through (Germany, Ghana, and Portugal).

The second match of the World Cup for the U.S. was a different story. Portugal claimed the early lead, with Nani scoring in the 5th minute to take the early 1–0 lead. It wasn't till the 64th minute till the U.S. scored the equalizing goal, thanks to Jermaine Jones, tying the match at 1 apiece. The U.S. then claimed the lead on a goal by Clint Dempsey again, scoring in the 81st minute to take a 2–1 lead. However, in the final minute of extra time, the world player of the year, Cristiano Ronaldo drilled a perfect cross to teammate Silvestre Varela who headed in the tying goal, making the final score 2–2. The tie gave each team a point in the overall standings, bringing the U.S. to 4 points total, and gave Portugal their first point of the World Cup having lost their opening match to Germany, 4–0. The U.S. claimed a spot in the knockout round in spite of a 1–0 loss to eventual champion Germany in their final group game due to them winning the tiebreaker with Portugal. However, they bowed out the tournament in the round of 16 in a 2–1 loss to Belgium. Goalkeeper Tim Howard helped the U.S. keep a 0–0 tie at full time. In extra time, there were two Belgian goals. The U.S. struck back with a goal by 19-year-old phenom Julian Green but could not manage another goal. Klinsman was let go as USMNT Director of Coaching and was replaced by Bruce Arena in November 2016.

The U.S. finished in fifth place in the fifth round of the CONCACAF qualification tournament for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which concluded in October 2017. This marks the first time that the U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup since 1986. As a result of the fifth-place finish, Bruce Arena was let go as USMNT Director of Coaching later that month.

United States, will jointly host with Canada and Mexico for the 2026 FIFA World Cup after beating out Morocco on June 13, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.

U.S. women's national team

The women's national team has won four FIFA Women's World Cup tournaments in 1991, 1999, 2015, and 2019 (placing second in 2011 and third in 1995, 2003, and 2007); the Olympic Gold Medal in 1996, 2004, 2008, and 2012; and seven Algarve Cups and six CONCACAF Women's Gold Cups.

The FIFA Women's World Cup was inaugurated in 1991, and the women's national team became the first team to win the prize after beating Norway in the final.

In 1999, the United States hosted the FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time. During their tournament run, the women's national team established a new level of popularity for the women's game, culminating in a final against China that drew 90,185 fans, an all-time attendance record for a women's sports event, to a sold-out Rose Bowl. After neither team scored in regulation or extra time, the final went to a penalty shootout, which the United States won 5–4. The celebration by Brandi Chastain after she converted the winning penalty, in which she took off her shirt, is one of the more famous images in U.S. women's sports.

Youth national teams

U.S. Soccer Federation oversees and promotes the development of the following national youth teams: [13]

U.S. Paralympic National Team

The U.S. Paralympic Soccer Team is an elite level program for men that selects players from across the United States in preparation for International standard competition. The team competes in 7-a-side football. The squad is composed of athletes who have cerebral palsy or have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury. The program is Coached by Stuart Sharp under the oversight of the U.S. Soccer Federation. [14]

Headquarters and national training center

U.S. Soccer House is located in two refurbished mansions at 1801 South Prairie Avenue in Chicago, Illinois and serves as the headquarters for the U.S. Soccer Federation. [15]

In 2003, U.S. Soccer opened their National Training Center at Dignity Health Sports Park (then named Home Depot Center) in Carson, California. The $130 million facility includes a soccer-specific stadium, home to the MLS team Los Angeles Galaxy. Additionally, four grass soccer fields, a FieldTurf soccer field and a general training area are specifically dedicated to U.S. Soccer. Both the senior and youth men's and women's US national teams hold regular camps at Dignity Health Sports Park. [16]

U.S. Soccer was also exploring a possibility of building the National Training and Coaching Development Center in Kansas City, Kansas. [17] On April 9, 2015, the Training Center received final approval from the local governments. U.S. Soccer agreed to a 20-year lease, with the project set to break ground in 2016 and finishing some time in 2017. [18] [19]

Professional leagues

Despite the growth of men's and women's professional soccer in the United States in the last few decades, by far the largest category of soccer in the United States, at least in terms of participation, is boys and girls youth soccer. Though organized locally by organizations all over the United States, there are two main youth soccer organizations working nationwide through affiliated local associations. The United States Youth Soccer Association boasts over three million players between the ages of five and 19, while American Youth Soccer Organization has more than 300,000 players between the ages of four and 19. This makes soccer one of the most played sports by children in the United States.


The professional first-division league in North America is Major League Soccer, which as of the 2018 season, has 20 teams in the U.S. and 3 in Canada. The league began an aggressive expansion in 2017, with the goal of adding as many as eight clubs. The expansion saw the following clubs added: Atlanta United FC (2017), Minnesota United FC (2017), Los Angeles FC (2018), FC Cincinnati (2019), Inter Miami CF (2020), Nashville SC (2020), Austin FC (2021), and St. Louis (2022). The league operates as a single-entity league, which means MLS, and not the individual teams, holds the contracts on players.

The one sanctioned second-division men's outdoor soccer league is the United Soccer League (USL). Previously, the second North American Soccer League had second-division status, sharing it with the USL in the 2017 season, but the NASL was denied second-division sanctioning for 2018 due to considerable instability in the league. [20]

The new NASL has no official tie to the former NASL that operated from 1968 to 1984; though, some of the teams share names with their historic counterparts. Unlike MLS that is a single-entity operation, the new NASL, like the old NASL, has no salary cap and players are contracted by the individual teams. [21] The season is a split format (similar to that of many leagues in Latin America) that features seven teams, including one Puerto Rican team. Previous to the reorganization of the NASL in 2009, the USL First Division operated as the professional second-division league in the United States. However, a dispute among its teams and ownership led to the creation of the NASL which applied for and was awarded by USSF second division status. The 2010 season was played as a combined USL/NASL league format before NASL officially separated in 2011. [22]

The United Soccer Leagues (USL) were a collection of five leagues spanning the lower divisions of men's professional soccer, as well as women's soccer and youth soccer. After the 2010 season, the USL folded its former First and Second Divisions into a new professional third-division league, USL Pro, that launched in 2011. At launch, it had 15 teams: 11 on the U.S. mainland, three in Puerto Rico, and one in Antigua and Barbuda. The Puerto Rican teams, plagued by ownership and economic issues, were dropped from the league after 2011, and the Antigua team discontinued operations after a winless 2013 season. In January 2013, USL and MLS reached an agreement to integrate USL Pro league competition with the MLS Reserve League spawning the creation of secondary teams directly affiliated with MLS franchises. This was done primarily to improve player development in North America, strengthen league competition and build ties between divisions in the American soccer pyramid. This multi-year deal encourages MLS and USL Pro team affiliations and player loans, and it will lead to more games for teams and to the development of American players. The deal has proven to be a boon for USL Pro, and in 2015, after a rebrand to USL, 24 teams were participating in a healthy and stable 3rd division. [23] [24] USL was provisionally sanctioned as a second-division league for 2017, claiming that their final applications met all the standards for second-division sanctioning. [25] [26]

There are currently no sanctioned third-division leagues. Two leagues have indicated that they will seek third-division status. United Soccer Leagues, administrator of the USL and USL League Two leagues, announced that they would start a new league called USL League One, and seek third-division certification and targeting 2019 as the first season for the new league. [27] National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) led by former Chicago Fire general manager Peter Wilt plans on fielding 8–10 teams in 2018 and has stated that it will seek third-division certification. [28]

A fourth-division league in the United States is the USL League Two, which as of 2015 is expected to have 58 U.S. teams, and six Canadian teams. Though League Two does have some paid players, it also has many teams that are made up entirely or almost entirely of college soccer players who use the league as an opportunity to play competitive soccer in front of professional scouts during the summer, while retaining amateur status and NCAA eligibility. Another fourth-division league in the United States is the National Premier Soccer League.

In addition to MLS and the USL, the United States Adult Soccer Association governs amateur soccer competition for adults throughout the United States, which is effectively the amateur fifth-division of soccer in the United States. The USASA sanctions regional tournaments that allow entry into the U.S. Open Cup, the oldest continuous national soccer competition in the United States. Since 1914, the competition has been open to all U.S. Soccer affiliated clubs, and currently pits teams from all five levels of the American soccer pyramid against each other each year, similarly to England's FA Cup.


Women's soccer in the United States has been played at the professional level in three separate leagues since 2001. The first two attempts at professional leagues lasted three seasons each.

Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), 2001–2003

The Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) was founded in 2001. Headlined by the stars of the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup-winning team, $30 million was initially invested by numerous cable TV networks and owners. [29] The league's inaugural match was held between the Washington Freedom featuring Mia Hamm and the Bay Area CyberRays (featuring Brandi Chastain) at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.. In addition to the 34,148 fans in attendance being greater than any MLS game that weekend, the Turner Network Television (TNT) broadcast reached 393,087 households: more than two MLS games broadcast on ESPN and ESPN2. [30] The league folded in 2003.

Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), 2009–2011

Boston Breakers squad featuring Kristine Lilly before a match, 2009 Breakersteam2009.jpg
Boston Breakers squad featuring Kristine Lilly before a match, 2009

The second attempt, Women's Professional Soccer, was founded in 2009, and featured involvement of many former WUSA figures. The champion of WPS' first season in 2009 was Sky Blue FC, out of the New York–New Jersey area. They defeated the Los Angeles Sol 1–0 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California. WPS launched with seven teams, all based in the United States. The Sol folded after the league's inaugural season, and two new teams joined for 2010, bringing WPS to eight teams. However, the 2010 season saw considerable instability, with another charter team, Saint Louis Athletica, folding during the season, champions FC Gold Pride folding after the season, and the Chicago Red Stars deciding to regroup in the second-tier Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL). The 2011 season, in which six teams based along the East Coast played, was marked by low attendance for most of the season and conflict with Dan Borislow, who had purchased the former Washington Freedom, moved the team to South Florida, and renamed it magicJack. The dispute between WPS and Borislow led the league to suspend the magicJack franchise, with Borislow responding by suing. The legal battle led WPS to suspend its 2012 season, with hopes of returning in 2013, but WPS soon decided to fold completely.

National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), 2013–present

Portland Thorns players before a match, April 2015 Portland Thorns FC players (16497728163).jpg
Portland Thorns players before a match, April 2015

On November 21, 2012, U.S. Soccer, in conjunction with the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) and Mexican Football Federation (FMF), announced the formation of a new professional league for the 2013 season. [31] The league, unnamed at the time of the initial announcement but later unveiled as the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), launched in April 2013 with eight teams. [31] Like WUSA and WPS, NWSL teams are privately owned with some owned by existing MLS teams. [32] The American and Canadian federations pay the salaries for many of their respective national team members. U.S. Soccer initially committed to funding up to 24 national team members, with the CSA committing to paying 16 players and FMF pledging support for at least 12 and possibly as many as 16. [32] [33] In addition, U.S. Soccer housed the league's front office for the first four years, and scheduled matches to avoid any possible conflict with international tournaments. [32] Four of the league's charter teams had WPS ties—the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Sky Blue FC, and the Western New York Flash. The other four initial teams were located in the Kansas City, Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. markets with the Portland team run by the Portland Timbers of MLS. [32] The NWSL expanded to nine teams for 2014 by adding the Houston Dash, run by the Houston Dynamo of MLS. In 2016, it expanded to 10 with the addition of another MLS-backed team, the Orlando Pride. Ahead of the 2017 season, A&E Networks announced it had taken an equity stake in the league and Lifetime would begin broadcasting games to a national television audience. [34] As of 2017, additional expansion teams were being discussed by Los Angeles FC, Vancouver Whitecaps, and FC Barcelona. [35] [36] [37]



In 2014 parents and former players filed a Class Action Lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation, FIFA, and other Soccer Organizations for failure to create policies that would prevent, evaluate and manage concussion injuries. [38] Soccer is second only to American football in the number of concussion injuries per year. [39]

MLS relationship

The USSF has been accused by representatives of the North American Soccer League, among others, of unfairly protecting MLS's leading role in American professional soccer. Among their concerns is that the USSF benefits from financial dealings with MLS that it does not have with other leagues, giving it an apparent incentive to protect MLS from competition. [40] This includes the contract that the USSF has with MLS's Soccer United Marketing (SUM) subsidiary in which most USSF sponsorship, television licensing and royalty revenues (outside of its apparel deal with Nike, Inc.) are paid through SUM. The USSF reported $15,433,754 in revenues through the SUM relationship in its 2014 audited financial report. [41]

In 2015, the NASL took issue with proposed USSF rule changes reportedly making it harder to gain co-equal "Division 1" status with MLS that would increase the NASL's influence within the USSF as well as presumably allow more access to international competition and larger media and sponsorship contracts, calling the draft proposal "...an anti-competitive bait and switch, with the purpose of entrenching MLS's monopoly position at the very time when the NASL is threatening to become a significant competitor." [42] Seats on the USSF's Professional Council governing committee are also based proportionally on pyramid level, giving MLS more votes when choosing the two professional league representatives on the USSF's board of directors. In 2015, those representatives are MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Alec Papadakis, CEO of the United Soccer League that announced an affiliation with MLS in 2015.

International competitiveness

High-profile international soccer figures including former USMNT Head Coach Jürgen Klinsmann, [43] former LA Galaxy head coach and USMNT Head Coach Bruce Arena [44] and Manchester City manager and former FIFA World Coach of the Year Pep Guardiola, [45] have expressed beliefs that the top-down structure of soccer developed and managed by the USSF in the United States, including pressure to have the best American players in MLS rather than higher-quality leagues in other countries, is hampering the nation's competitiveness in international soccer.

Conversely, Klinsmann has been criticized in turn by MLS representatives for recommending that American players leave MLS development systems to pursue professional careers in Europe in order to test themselves against higher levels of players in preparation for international competition. In 2015, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "I do believe our national team coach has a short-term objective. That's what he's hired to do. That doesn't mean next week, but it's to win the Gold Cup, it's to have the best possible team in 2018. And our goals and objectives are broader than that, and that's why we agree on some things but don't agree on others." [46]

Women's National Team Lawsuit

On March 8, 2019, all members of the US Women's National Team collectively filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation in a district court in Los Angeles. The lawsuit was filed due to claims that the athletes were being treated differently on the basis of gender, affecting their paychecks, the facilities they were offered, and even the medical treatment they received. [47] Women on the team have previously filed complaints about pay disparity, including in 2016 when five members of the women's team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. [48] [49]

Coaches and technical staff

Technical Staff

Sporting Director of U.S. Soccer Flag of the United States.svg Earnie Stewart [50]
Youth technical director Flag of the United States.svg Tab Ramos
Director of talent identification Flag of the United States.svg Tony Lepore
Director of coaching education Flag of the United States.svg Dave Chesler
Director of youth national teams Flag of the United States.svg Jim Moorhouse
Women's General manager Flag of the United States.svg Kate Markgraf [51]
Women's technical director Flag of the United States.svg April Heinrichs
Women's youth development director Flag of England.svg Jill Ellis
Women's head development coach Flag of the United States.svg April Kater


United States Soccer Football Association (until 1974)

United States Soccer Federation (1974–present)

Current sponsorships

See also

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The 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup was the 103rd edition of the oldest ongoing competition in American soccer.

Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez is an American soccer player who currently plays for Seattle Sounders FC in Major League Soccer (MLS).


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