LIJSL Alum Bill Manning Named MLS Executive of the Year
January 20, 2015 | by Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
The awards keep on coming for Real Salt Lake President Bill Manning, who has won the 2014 Doug Hamilton Executive of the Year Award from Major League Soccer. This is the second time in three years that he has received the award as the top league executive.
“It's really nice to be recognized by my peers and to receive this award from Commissioner Garber,” Bill said. “I say this all the time, but it’s pretty easy to look good when you are surrounded by such a talented group of players and staff as we have here at Real Salt Lake. They make me look good every day!”
Bill, also President of Real Salt Lake’s home field, Rio Tinto Stadium, played for the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) Select Team from 1979 to ‘83 as well as the Massapequa Soccer Club from 1972 to ‘83. Bill’s Massapequa teams had virtually the same players from Under-10 to Under-19 but kept changing their name depending on who their coach was. He played for the Massapequa Flying Dutchmen (coached by Kurt Knoblauch), the Massapequa Bugs (Dick Roche), the Massapequa Cosmos (Jerry Lyons) and the Massapequa Bulls (coached by his father, also named Bill Manning). Although the Bulls lost in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) State Open Cup finals to B/W Gottschee in extra time in 1983, his teams won the LIJSL division championship in 1974, ‘76 and ‘79 plus the Long Island Cup in 1980 and ‘83. While Bill eventually moved on to pro soccer, one of his teammates, goalkeeper Kevin Ferrari, started volunteering with local youth soccer and served as President of the Massapequa Soccer Club. “My best memory of youth soccer is from our last year together with the Massapequa Bulls,” Bill stated. “We travelled to the Pocono Cup in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. It was a select team tournament and we were one of only a few club teams there. We wound up beating the New Jersey state champs and then a team from Denmark in the finals to win the championship. We just had a great time together and to go out as winners with this group that had played together for so long was special.”
Bill led the University of Bridgeport to the Division 2 Final Four in 1986 while garnering first-team All-America honors. He continued his playing career after college and won a US Open Cup with the Brooklyn Italians in 1991 and played professionally in the United Soccer Leagues with the Penn-Jersey Spirit (1991), Valley Golden Eagles (1993) and New York Fever (1994-95) before Major League Soccer existed.
He began his sports management career by joining the front office of the Continental Indoor Soccer League during its inaugural season in 1993, then served in top executive positions with soccer’s New York Fever, Long Island Rough Riders, Minnesota Thunder and Tampa Bay Mutiny plus the NBA’s Houston Rockets and NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles before his arrival in Utah in 2008.
Bill’s brother Lawrence and sister Heather also played for the Massapequa Soccer Club as kids. Lawrence went on to play for Cortland State and the U.S. Deaf National Team and represented the red, white and blue at the Deaflympics in Copenhagen (1997), Rome (2001) and Melbourne (2005).