US Club Soccer statement on the passing of Kevin Payne
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Dec. 25, 2022) – The US Club Soccer family is grieving the loss of Kevin Payne, who passed away earlier today. Kevin served as CEO from 2015 to 2021, and his impact was immediate and consistent. Joining US Club Soccer completed his arc of influence on the game, allowing him to grow the sport at professional and youth levels over three decades.
Kevin was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame last year, recognized in the aptly described “Builder” category. He will be remembered for catalyzing the growth of soccer in this country, first with U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer, and later with US Club Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Foundation. It is fitting that one of his greatest achievements at US Club Soccer was creating the Players First initiative, which is uncompromisingly family focused.
“I wanted to make a difference in our sport,” Kevin said during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech. “I wanted to leave something behind which would live on after I was gone. I’ve tried my best. I hope I’ve succeeded.”
Those who knew Kevin best will remember him for much more than soccer. He was a family man who valued loyalty, empathy and humor. Many meetings in the office were gleefully interrupted by unexpected calls from his grandsons. And he was always quick to brag on the latest achievements of his daughters and sons-in-law.
Our deepest condolences are with his wife, Pam; daughters, Ashley and Rebecca; and all his family, friends and loved ones.
Mike Cullina, US Club Soccer CEO: “Kevin’s contributions to our sport are undeniable but for those who had the privilege of knowing him his impact away from the sport was so much more. I’ll cherish the conversations and stories and send my deepest condolences to Pam, his children and grandchildren, who he adored.”
Greg Hutton, US Club Soccer COO: “KP accomplished much and positively impacted many people in various ways. Among the things we will remember him for are his love of family and friends, moments of candid humor, and sheer passion – whether it be for improving the sport for future generations, or the way in which he described his disdain for soy sauce (… or sushi, onions, tomatoes or pretty much any vegetable). He was steadfast in wanting to make a difference in our sport. And he most certainly did.”
Bill Sage, former US Club Soccer CEO: “I think it can be said no one has made a greater contribution to soccer in the U.S. in as many different positions as Kevin has done. From Federation marketing early on, to the founder and leader of D.C. United, to serving for many years on MLS, U.S. Soccer, and U.S. Soccer Foundation boards, and finally as my successor as CEO of US Club Soccer, his influence and sound judgment have always stood out. It was a remarkable career, and both ironic and sad to lose him now, just after a World Cup. Kevin was always well prepared, be it for a meeting or a game. Whatever he did, he was all-in to make it the best it could be; whether it was a D.C. United match or his golf game. He was opinionated to be sure, and it was usually quite clear what his thoughts were on the subject at hand, but it was hard to disagree with his well-articulated points of view. I remember a speech Kevin made at my retirement event, as he took over for me at US Club Soccer. Apart from the quality soccer staff we’d assembled, he said people could usually be judged in part by their family. I agree with that, and his own family, Pam, his two daughters, and grandkids will be a legacy unmatched by even his soccer accomplishments.”
Joe Machnik, National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee: “The news of Kevin Payne’s passing is sad, indeed. We had first met in 1989 when Kevin was hired by U.S. Soccer, and I was with the national team as assistant coach. We worked together at MLS and shared time when Kevin moved to the Charleston, S.C. area. Kevin was a devoted NY Rangers fan and a giant of American soccer. He will be dearly missed. Rest in peace, Kevin.”
ABOUT US CLUB SOCCER
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.
US Club Soccer is sponsored by Nike, DICK'S Sporting Goods and Gatorade.