McCormack Alumnus Named Chief Commercial Officer of U.S. Soccer
October 27, 2020
By Will Sahlie ' 22MBA/MS
After four productive years as the chief marketing and commercial officer of Minor League Baseball, Isenberg alum David Wright was recently named chief commercial officer of U.S. Soccer. Wright, who graduated with a master’s in sport management in 2000, is returning to soccer following a previous 15-year run with Major League Soccer.
Wright played four seasons of collegiate soccer at Indiana University and followed it up with a two-year stint as an assistant coach for UMass.
“In the back of my mind, I always felt that if the right opportunity presented itself, I would love to make a return to soccer,” Wright said. “I did not know when or where, but when the opportunity at U.S. Soccer presented itself, it was very clear to me that not only was it the right time, but it was also the right organization.”
Wright is reentering the game as it reaches a critical upcoming decade in North America.
“For me, there is arguably no better time to be involved with soccer in North America than right now,” Wright said. “When you look at the success of our domestic leagues, from MLS to NWSL to USL, they are all thriving. Our women’s national team is still the gold standard around the globe.
“Our men’s national team has a lot of aspiring talent as they prepare for World Cup qualifying,” he continued. “And finally, down the road, with the World Cup in 2026 here in North America and the Olympics in 2028 in Los Angeles, there is a crescendo for the sport over the next eight years that is unlike any eight-year stretch in its modern history.”
With so much potential for the global game in the upcoming years, Wright is not hesitating to identify the immediate opportunities for U.S. Soccer and his upcoming career.
“If you look at the last, call it 20 years, the growth of the game has been unprecedented,” Wright said. “For the game to continue to grow and reach its full potential, the sport needs to come together at all levels. Soccer in the U.S. has a lot of moving parts. Our ability to come together as a country and row in the same direction with an eye towards long-term sustainable growth is very important. That will be a key focus for U.S. Soccer.”
Soccer has been the comfort zone for Wright as his playing career transitioned to his off-the-field professional career. Four years away from the sport, however, proved to be four of the most impressive years of his career.
In addition to exponential revenue growth and increasing the brand profile of Minor League Baseball, Wright was a driving force behind MILB becoming a leader in diversity and inclusion.
“I was very vocal around our efforts to be leaders in diversity and inclusion,” he said. “When you have 160 clubs across 42 states and your fan base covers 81 percent of the U.S. population, there is an opportunity to make a difference. From our hiring practices through to many of our intentional DE&I initiatives, such as MILB Pride and Copa de la Diversión, we were committed to being one of the most inclusive sport properties around.”
What has been the key to the success in his two decades of work? Wright says it is his two years in Amherst.
“I went to Amherst because I thought I wanted to coach soccer collegiately,” Wright said. “What I learned, which I think is one of the most viable things about graduate school, is the power of perspective. Outside, real-world perspective really helped to shape my interests. I am pretty sure I would have been a successful collegiate coach, but my experience at UMass exposed me to other areas of the business.
“Without UMass, I would not have landed my first job with MLS three days after I graduated. It was the perspective I was given, the hands-on experience and the relationships that I made that will last a lifetime. Those have been foundational to my success over the last 20 years and something I will always look very fondly upon.”