After announcing their 2017 schedule yesterday, the National Women's Soccer League was not quite done with their announcements and today, they announced that Jeff Plush had stepped down as the NWSL Commissioner effective immediately to pursue other ventures.
Plush speaks on his decision to move on
Jeff Plush released a statement about his decision to end his role in the NWSL. Plush began by saying that it had been a "privilege to play a role in the growth and promise of the NWSL". Plush went on to thank U.S. Soccer heads Dan Flynn and Sunil Gulati, the team owners and the players for their "trust and belief" in him to be the "steward of the league and the game". Plush ended his statement by stating he could move on from this knowing the league was in a "great place today, with even better days ahead."
Sunil Gulati was also on hand to say a few words to the league's official website. The U.S. Soccer President spoke on how "integral" Jeff Plush had been in the "stability and rise of the NWSL" and that "his body of work will provide his successor an excellent blue print" to work on in the years to come. Gulati also mentioned that the search for a new commissioner would start immediately and that Plush was leaving this role as a "friend and with great respect from all at U.S. Soccer and the NWSL."
Plush's tenure was not without its faults
Jeff Plush was named as the NWSL Commissioner on Janury 6th, 2015 and oversaw a lot of ups and downs in the league. During his time with the NWSL, Plush saw the Orlando Pride joining the league as well as the formation of the North Carolina Courage. Plush was also instrumental in bringing in A+E Networks and their decision to broadcast and support the NWSL on their platforms. Plush was also at the helm of a history making league as the NWSL is the first league in the United States to make it past the three-year mark and will know embark on its fifth season with ten teams all still on board.
However, Plush was around to see what many consider as serious faux pas within the league and the public image of the league, most notably the replacement stadium used during the 2016 NWSL match between the Western New York Flash and Seattle Reign. Plush did not seem to have a good handle of the situation from start to finish and may not be fondly remembered by Reign fans for his role in that fiasco. Many other issues were out of his hands but having a standard set for the entire league was something that NWSL fans will feel that Plush never executed fully.
The league will now look to have its third commissioner in five seasons, and the need is immediate as the NWSL is scheduled to start in just over a month. Whoever is next to step up to the plate will have a lot to manage, particularly the thorny issue of the unresolved CBA battle between U.S. Soccer and the USWNT Players' Union, but they can at least come into the job on a more stable footing than Plush did when he joined in 2015.