US Club Soccer CEO Kevin Payne inducted into National Soccer Hall of Fame

FRISCO, Texas (Oct. 4, 2021) – US Club Soccer CEO and Executive Director Kevin Payne was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame on Saturday, Oct. 2 at the National Soccer Hall of Fame at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Elected from the Builder Ballot, he joined the four-member 2021 class that included U.S. National Team alumni Steve Cherundolo, and four-time Major League Soccer champion Jaime Moreno.

Payne and the 2021 class were inducted at a ceremony along with former U.S. Men’s National Team captain Carlos Bocanegra and Colin Jose Media Award Winner Andrés Cantor, whose 2020 inductions were postponed due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. National Team alumnus Christie Pearce Rampone, who was elected in the Class of 2021, deferred her induction until 2022.

The ceremony took take place inside the National Soccer Hall of Fame, followed by the Hall of Fame game between FC Dallas and Minnesota United FC and a concert featuring Willie Nelson.

Payne started with US Club Soccer in 2015 and immediately launched Players First, a philosophy and holistic club soccer experience for parents and players which emphasizes the development of each individual to his or her full potential, and helps parents make better choices about where their children should play.

“I wanted to make a difference in our sport,” Payne said. “I wanted to accomplish something. I wanted to leave something behind which would live on after I was gone. I’ve tried my best. I hope I’ve succeeded.”

Prior to his time with US Club Soccer, Payne was president and general manager of D.C. United in Major League Soccer for 15 seasons, from 1996 through 2001 and 2004 through 2012. He was president of Toronto FC of MLS in the 2013 season, and from 2001 through 2004 was an executive of Anshutz Entertainment Group, which owned several MLS franchises. He won the USSF’s Werner Fricker Builder Award in 2011. Under his leadership, D.C. United won the MLS championship in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2004; won the U.S. Open Cup in 1996 and 2008; hosted the MLS championship game in 1997, 2000 and 2007, and hosted the MLS all-star game in 2004. His prior history in the game, for which he has won many awards and honors, is well-documented.

Payne found out about being named to the 2021 Hall of Fame class on June 9 during a lunch meeting in Mount Pleasant, S.C. U.S. Soccer President and Hall of Famer Sunil Gulati (’19) along with New England Revolution head coach and Hall of Famer Bruce Arena (’10) surprised Payne with the news of his election to the Hall of Fame.

Kevin Payne | Hall of Fame Inductee Video

Kevin Payne | Hall of Fame Induction Speech

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A National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, US Club Soccer fosters the growth and development of soccer clubs in order to create the best possible environment for players of all ages.

Anchored by Players First and its five pillars of Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety, US Club Soccer offers registration, league- and cup-based competition platforms, player identification and a variety of other programming, resources and services.

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