The Orlando Pride today announced that NWSL President Amanda Duffy will leave her position with the league on Feb. 15 and become the club’s executive vice president. Duffy will oversee the Pride’s operations both in the front office and on the technical side, and she will report directly to Orlando City CEO Alex Leitão.
Duffy will also be responsible for hiring and overseeing additional staff members for the Pride. Pride General Manager Erik Ustruck, who was appointed to that position exactly one year ago today, will remain with the Pride until Duffy’s start with Orlando, at which point he will transition back into a role with the Club’s men’s side.
“When we decided to invest in this position, we knew we wanted to bring in someone who not only has a strong understanding of the current landscape of women’s soccer but someone who has a proven record of building exciting, successful clubs and we couldn’t think of a more perfect fit than Amanda,” Leitão said in a club press release. “We have been working closely with Amanda for years and have seen all that she has been able to accomplish, from her days in the USL and Louisville to her most recent time with the NWSL. We are so excited that she has chosen to come to Orlando and that she shares our vision of the potential of women’s soccer in this country and wants to be a part of building the future of the game as a member of the Pride.”
“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 in the club’s release. “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.”
Last night news of Duffy stepping down from role as president was announced by the Washington Post’s Steven Goff on Twitter. Duffy was expected to be the favorite to claim the league’s vacant commissioner role prior to the upcoming 2020 NWSL season but — according to Caitlin Murray of Yahoo Sports — did not have sufficient support to win that role.
I heard there wasn't a majority of support from #NWSL owners for her to take on the commissioner role that they are in the hiring process for, so her leaving makes sense. But now it's important they get the commissioner hire right before the season begins. https://t.co/wL4HVgRivH— Caitlin Murray (@caitlinmurr) January 7, 2020
Duffy, 39, joined the NWSL in January of 2017 as the league’s managing director. After two seasons in that position, the Jacksonville, N.C. native was promoted to president last January. She was instrumental in establishing a women’s professional soccer partnership with A+E/Lifetime in 2017. That partnership included a national television and streaming deal for matches as well as the establishment of NWSL Media. She was named one of AdWeek’s 35 Most Powerful Women in Sports that same year.
Following the USWNT’s success in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Duffy leveraged the popularity of the game and brought the NWSL to the ESPN family of networks, introduced Louisville City FC as a 2021 expansion club, and helped secure a marquee, long-term league partnership with Budweiser — the first official beer partner of the NWSL. She also helped procure an extension with the league’s founding partner, Nike, through the 2022 season
Duffy received the 2019 Honorary All-America Award from United Soccer Coaches, which recognizes a person or persons who have brought particular distinction and/or attention to the sport of soccer through their efforts within and beyond the boundaries of the sport.
“We thank Amanda for all of her efforts on behalf of the NWSL over the past three years and are pleased that she will continue to play an important part in the league in her new role with the Orlando Pride,” said NWSL Executive Committee Chair and North Carolina Courage Owner Steve Malik in a league press release. “We will continue to build upon Amanda’s work of elevating the league’s footprint — competitively and commercially — as the league cements its position as the global leader in women’s soccer.”
Before joining the NWSL, Duffy helped USL side Louisville City FC become one of that league’s most successful teams. She was named LCFC’s vice president of operations in October 2014 but was promoted to general manager of the club two months later. She served in that role for a year before becoming the first female president in USL history in November 2015. Louisville City was Orlando City’s USL affiliate in 2015 until the announcement of Orlando City B joining the USL for the 2016 season.
Under Duffy’s guidance, Louisville City — which took Orlando City’s spot in the USL after OCSC joined Major League Soccer — became one of the hottest tickets in American soccer, finishing top 25 in attendance across all North American leagues, including Major League Soccer.
A former professional player, Duffy began her front office career with the USL’s league office in 2007 as the league operations administrator and in 2008 was promoted to director of operations. After three years, Duffy became senior director, responsible for all operations of the W-League, the USL’s women’s soccer developmental league, which featured over 30 teams during her tenure.
Prior to her move to the front office, Duffy played collegiate soccer at East Carolina University. In 2012 she became the first women’s soccer player to be inducted into the ECU Athletics Hall of Fame. Duffy finished her career with the Pirates as the school’s all-time leader in points (83) and goals scored (33), and finished second in assists (17). The 2002 graduate was also a two-time first-team All-Conference USA selection.
Following graduation, Duffy played three seasons in the W-League, including a stint with the Central Florida Krush, based in Orlando suburb Winter Park, and won the championship in 2003. Duffy also played one professional season in Sweden with Danmarks IF.