BOISE — Running on a platform to grow the game at all levels, Idaho Youth Soccer President Bill Taylor was elected the vice president of U.S. Soccer on Saturday.
He beat out three other candidates, including former U.S. men’s national team star Cobi Jones, in a surprise result — with wide support from the youth level across the country.
“We put Idaho on the map again,” Taylor told the Idaho Statesman on Monday. “Never underestimate an Idahoan.”
Taylor is one of the largest soccer figures in Idaho, leading the state youth association for 10 years, helping bring Spanish power Athletic Bilbao to Boise and pushing to bring a USL Championship franchise to the Treasure Valley.
He’s also a neuroradiologist with Gem State Radiology and the director of radiology with West Valley Medical Center.
A veteran youth coach in the Treasure Valley, Taylor said he’s grown frustrated with soccer’s lack of growth in the United States, noting that the country has remained around 4 million registered players for much of the past 20 years. He said he ran for vice president to break that sluggish pattern.
“It’s primarily because of the work I’ve done on the field with my players,” Taylor said. “... I saw a lot of the deficits that we have in the youth landscape. The youth side of things, it’s the lifeblood of the federation.
“I was kind of frustrated watching the continual churn and the lack of growth in the game in our country, and I wanted to do something to change that and be a part of the change. The coaching on the field drives my political side to want to provide a better experience for my current and future players.”
This vice president position is a volunteer one, allowing him to remain in the Treasure Valley. But he said will step down as president of the Idaho Youth Soccer Association. The organization plans to name a replacement soon, Craig Warner, the executive director of the state youth association, told the Idaho Statesman in an email.
Taylor will serve as vice president for the next three years, finishing former Vice President Cindy Parlow Cone’s term. She has since become the president of U.S. Soccer.
U.S. Soccer oversees all levels of the sport in America, from the men’s and women’s senior national teams to youth soccer to adult amateur leagues. Taylor said his exact role is not yet defined. But the former chairman of the U.S. Youth Soccer Organizational Growth Committee said he will work across all levels to grow the game.
Taylor ran on a platform of “find, develop, play” to find more soccer players, develop and train them, and then promote more playing opportunities at all ages.
“It’s growing the fan base and creating fans for life,” Taylor said. “Even in the amateur adult landscape, there’s a lot of unaffiliated leagues and players that we want to bring into the U.S. Soccer family to help them feel a part of us. That’s a huge number of people, and that will help grow the fan base for our country as well.”
His campaign plans included reducing the sport’s reliance on high-priced clubs with stringent travel schedules, targeting underserved areas that have limited access to the sport, and training elementary school physical education teachers to teach futsal, an indoor version of the game played on a hard court.
U.S. Soccer has pushed diversity, equity and inclusion measures in recent years. Taylor said he supports those, and they dovetail with goals to expand the game in America.
“We’re coming out of a pandemic where we’ve lost, the numbers aren’t fully out, at least 20% of our membership,” Taylor said. “Hopefully it’s a temporary loss. And when we come back, we’ll do things even better and grow more than what we lost.
“But we’re in a tenuous time frame that is forcing us to look in the mirror and see how we can do better.”