What do you do at Playmakers?
As a Managing Director alongside John Parker, my role is to drive the strategic growth of the Playmakers’ portfolio in pursuit of our mission to advance American soccer forward.
What constitutes success for you?
Nothing less than realizing our mission and achieving our key objectives will constitute success. More specifically, we endeavor to expand our investment in soccer beyond our holdings in the Greater Philadelphia area and in the Philadelphia Union, to create better learning environments for boys and girls playing soccer all across the country. We also will seek to further establish the brand of soccer in the U.S. as cool and relevant through storytelling that is unapologetically American. If we can achieve both of those objectives, I am confident we will be playing our part to advance American soccer.
What is your timeline for measuring success?
I believe we need to measure the success of this project over the long-term. The World Cup being hosted in the U.S. in 2026, and potentially another in 2027, provides a meaningful timeline and benchmark for assessing the true impact of Playmakers.
Why did you leave U.S. Soccer after ten years
It all started when our founder Richie Graham shared his vision for Playmakers. Having known Richie for nearly a decade, he has a proven track record of investing consistent with his belief in doing what’s best for the American soccer player. I saw that our vision of American soccer was so clearly aligned, and that at Playmakers I’d have the capability to bring this vision to life. The thing is, leaving U.S. Soccer was not easy. It really was a dream job, and I still cherish my relationships with many of my former colleagues. This opportunity simply was the one…the one dream job worth leaving my dream job for.
What inspires you?
As I size up the ambition of our mission to advance American soccer, I am often reminded and inspired by the hands-on efforts of leaders and volunteers in the soccer community. Despite the systemic problems within our soccer landscape, there are countless undeterred leaders and innovators who have helped make positive experiences in soccer for millions upon millions of kids a reality. If Playmakers is to accomplish its mission, it will be because we have created better environments for players, and empowered everyone who is directly helping kids to play, learn, and have fun.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge to improving the American Soccer “Product”?
When looking at the American Soccer “Product”, or the ecosystem that supports the development of the American player, we find a fragmented landscape. There are unique challenges in untangling the fiefdoms and politics that have been inherent to the industry so far. I believe we’ve all entered a landscape filled with mistrust. Because of this current state of affairs, the biggest challenge to making things better for players will be breaking through and challenging the status quo. Many people in the American soccer community are doing the right things for the right reasons, but have been limited by the infrastructure of from which we’ve operated historically. We believe that we have the resources to invest in these people to begin affecting positive change to our infrastructure, and thereby improve the experience of the American soccer player.
What excites you most about your future at Playmakers?
I am really excited to make a more direct impact on the stakeholders that matter the most in soccer, players and parents. While youth soccer is a sizeable industry, we shouldn’t lose sight of doing what’s in the best interests of the people who comprise it. I don’t think enough groups are really listening to what parents and players are saying about the game, and how they want it to evolve and improve. We believe decisions and programs should be made according to player-centric principles and by listening to what moms and dads value for their children. We want to keep more kids playing soccer longer and having lots of fun doing so, and making that a reality is really exciting and motivating.
What needs to change the most in the industry?
I’ll preface the following by noting that this isn’t a critique of U.S. Soccer itself, which is a collection of members, but rather my frustration with the myriad organizations that comprise our industry. It is that confederation of organizations that is lacking effective and meaningful leadership. Not surprisingly, this means that time, energy, and resources are often squandered on doling out favors and making promises in an effort to affect change. Instead, we believe a leader should have support with a clear mandate, and then lead accordingly. Playmakers is looking to be that leader who will change soccer based on earned support from the key stakeholders and believers, rather than falling victim to the existing bureaucracy and politics that has stifled true leadership within the sport.