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Amanda Duffy quits NWSL presidency for Pride job

Three intriguing questions as Amanda Duffy quits NWSL presidency for Orlando Pride role

January 7, 2020 By Juan Aguerrevere
Amanda Duffy stepped down as president of the National Women’s Soccer League after a year minus nine days in the position. Steve Goff from the Washington Post first reported about it on Monday.

Duffy's three-year stint with the NWSL will come to an end on February 15, 2020, that is when she will start her new position as executive vice president of the Orlando Pride. The North Carolina native was named president of the NWSL on January 15, 2019 after serving as managing director of operations in 2017 and managing director in 2018 for the league.

It was in the league's best interest to keep Duffy until February with the NWSL college draft nearing in and preparations for the 2020 season that are underway. In addition, the league has been and still is looking for a new commissioner since October 2019 amid dealing with other business. This includes a deal between U.S. Soccer and the NWSL, a broadcast agreement with Octagon and a possible 2021 expansion.

Why did she leave her position and why for Orlando?

Power and connections. Duffy will have lots of power in her new position in Orlando. She will oversee the entire Pride program that is getting closer to a new investment. Part of her power is having the ability to add and oversee new staff as well as the team's current staff. She will work both front office and technical operations reporting directly to Orlando City SC CEO Alex Leitao.

Leitao will trust Duffy due to previous ties with the club. In 2015, she became the president of Louisville City when the team was an affiliate to Orlando City un the USL. She was also mentored by Orlando City co-founder Phil Rawlins, Orlando City board member Gary Mellor and former Orlando City vice president of development Tim Holt. 

"I have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the leadership of Orlando City SC for more than a decade and have watched its rapid growth trajectory into a global brand with admiration and respect," Duffy said. "As this position came into the club's plans, and as I learned more about the broader goals of the collective organization, it was clear to me that the club is prepared to invest deeply in the women's game, and in the Pride specifically. This investment, combined with the chance to work with Alex's leadership, a world-class roster, and intensely passionate fans, made the decision to come to Orlando one of tremendous excitement and an immense honor."

What is the magnitude of her next challenge, looking at Orlando's current state?

Duffy knows the basics of Orlando City, but she needs to get a good understanding of the technical side of the club. In February, she will take a listening tour as part of her training and welcome. It will be a matter of time for her to understand the club's priorities after understanding the technicalities from within the franchise.

"Understanding across the organization where the challenges are, where the opportunities are, and really the intricate details surrounding where the club is from a sporting side today," she told The Athletic of her goals for the tour.

"Once I have a better understanding from within, it will allow me to identify the immediate priorities."

Attendance is another factor that the Pride has been struggling with, but the new executive vice president had a lot of success with the NWSL in that department. Under Duffy's presidency, the National Women's Soccer League set record-breaking attendance in numbers, added two expansion teams, increased player's payments and signed long-term partnership deals. 

Orlando Pride seek similar achievements and the former East Carolina University goal poacher would certainly relish the challenge of making it happen.

What about the NWSL commissioner role?

The search for a commissioner is still in full-effect. Duffy was a frontrunner for the vacant NWSL commissioner role before her departure to Orlando, but she declined the position leaving the league's board of directors in the same boat they have been for more than three months.

According to The Athletic, league sources said that the board of directors will meet in Baltimore next week to give an update on the commissioner search. There are doubts about the possibility of making a hire before the end of Duffy's transition time. Current Pride General manager Erik Ustruck will continue his current position until her arrival.

All in all, is this move good news to the development of the NWSL? Time will tell.

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