It’s time again for a soccer insider column, where we break some news and provide more context on what’s happening in the soccer world. Let’s go!
• USWNT's pre-Olympic road
SI has learned that the U.S. women’s national team—which has its Olympic qualifying decider Friday night vs. Mexico—will face Brazil in San Jose, Calif., on April 14 and two-time world champion Germany in East Hartford, Conn., on June 6. Brazil has already qualified for the Olympics, while the Germans failed to book a spot in the Olympics by not placing in UEFA’s top three at last year’s World Cup.
After the March SheBelieves Cup matches vs. England, Spain and Japan, the USWNT will play two friendlies each in April, June and July—all of them in the United States. The Olympic tournament (pending qualification) starts July 22.
• Jay Berhalter not a candidate for U.S. Soccer CEO after all?
U.S. Soccer has taken far longer than expected to name a CEO—the federation’s most important day-to-day position—to replace Dan Flynn. Fans and media have expressed concern about the embattled organization hiring an in-house candidate, specifically Jay Berhalter, the USSF chief commercial officer and brother of USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter.
Multiple sources now tell SI that Jay Berhalter is not a candidate for the CEO position. One U.S. Soccer source said he did not receive positive reviews from U.S. Soccer employees in a recent anonymous survey conducted by the federation, but added that due to the length of the search process and difficulty in finding someone for the CEO job, “you can’t ever write Jay off completely until they announce the position.”
U.S. Soccer’s annual general meeting is next week in Nashville.
• MLS CBA deal 'appears close'
With the deadline for the MLS collective bargaining agreement extended to Friday, a source with knowledge of the talks tells SI that a deal “appears close” and that the deal’s “concepts are largely agreed” upon by the MLS Players Association and the league. The two sides have been meeting in the Washington, D.C., area, the home of the MLSPA.
Even if a deal isn’t reached by Friday, sources on both sides say it would be unlikely that any work stoppage would take place then, adding that the deadline would likely be extended again.
• NWSL broadcast rights going to CBS
The NWSL broadcast video rights in the U.S. will be going to CBS Sports, SI has confirmed. (Dan Lauletta of The Equalizer first reported CBS was likely to get them.) An official announcement is expected soon. More than a dozen NWSL games are expected to be shown on a CBS linear platform this year, including on CBS’s main over-the-air channel, with out-of-market NWSL games expected to be available on CBS All Access, a pay streaming site.
CBS’s newfound soccer interest is fascinating. The network hadn’t owned soccer rights for more than four decades until last November, when it came out of nowhere to land a three-year deal starting in 2021-22 for the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and new Europa Conference League. Now CBS is adding the NWSL, a deal that was negotiated on the league’s behalf by Octagon.
• Big turnover as key MLS figures gather for annual meeting
MLS’s chief soccer officers (GMs, sporting directors, etc.) are meeting for three days this week at a ranch one hour south of Kansas City owned by Sporting Kansas City ownership. It’s an annual meeting to review the past year and the year ahead. Seven new chief soccer officers are involved this time—the most turnover in the history of the meeting—and recommendations from the CSOs will be brought before MLS’s influential product and strategy committee when it meets next week.