When he was a player for the Charleston Battery, current USL President Jake Edwards saw the potential cities had across the United States to become great soccer communities with the right infrastructure in place.
That was the inspiration for Edwards’ return across the Atlantic a decade ago as an executive, where he has now helped lead the United Soccer League to an unprecedented era of growth on and off the field, with stadium and training facility construction at its core.
“You’d travel to some great markets, like Portland and Seattle, or El Paso, or Richmond, or Milwaukee,” Edwards told Paul Tenorio on The Athletic’s podcast Allocation Disorder: 1v1. “You got a sense of these community clubs and people who loved the sport, but the infrastructure wasn’t there.”
“When I went back to England, that was my takeaway, that maybe one day I could come back here, and we could really start to build out the infrastructure the sport needs in all of these communities. There are so many communities that are passionate about the sport, so I think it was always my intent to come back. I had an opportunity in about 2012 where I was introduced to the ownership of the league and I was looking to transition back to the U.S., and I spent time then working with the ownership on a strategic plan for the USL.”
For more from Edwards, including more on his experiences as a player and the relevance of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the F.A. Cup, the pathway the USL can offer young players, and his former club Wrexham being featured in a new FX documentary series, listen to the full interview.