D.C. United announces Payne’s departure

November 27, 2012

D.C. United issued the following statements concerning Kevin Payne’s departure after 17 years running the organization:

General partner Jason Levien: “Kevin’s lengthy list of accomplishments speaks to his strong acumen as a leader. His dedication to the organization deserves deep admiration and appreciation. As D.C. United begins a new chapter, Kevin’s leadership has helped to prepare us for this important and potential-filled inflection point in the club’s history.”

(Well stated. Professional and appropriate.)

Investor Erick Thohir: “As we thank Kevin for his service and wish him well, we look to the future with tremendous optimism.”

(It’s hard to add anything to Levien’s comments — and Thohir is not as eloquent in English as his native Indonesian — but I expected a bit more from the club’s primary benefactor.)

Coach Ben Olsen: “Very few people in American soccer have put their stamp on a club as Kevin has with D.C. United. His loyalty to the team and me is something for which I’ll always be indebted.”

(Olsen and Payne have been together at RFK for almost 15 years. Olsen played for 12 seasons, then accepted Payne’s offer to join the coaching staff as an assistant before the 2010 campaign. After initially ruling Olsen out for the top job two years ago, Payne changed course and turned to Olsen to steer the club out of the doldrums. This season, despite Dwayne De Rosario’s absence down the stretch, United finished with the third-most points in MLS and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in six years.)

Payne: “They say the only constant in life is change. For me, D.C. United has been like my child. We brought the team into the D.C. and national sports world 17 years ago and every day since – good and bad – has been a labor of love. This team has provided many great memories of championships and historic accomplishments, but I will best remember the people I’ve had the chance to meet, to work with, strive with, celebrate with, and sometimes to share disappointment with. To the players, coaches, co-workers and fans, I can only say thank you so much for the great privilege of having been part of the D.C. United family. It’s very difficult for me to express how I have felt, and still feel, about all of you. I will forward a longer statement in the weeks to come to try to do a better job of thanking everyone for all they have meant to me. I’m very excited about the next phase of my life.”

(That says it all.)

Several sources confirmed Payne will join Toronto FC’s organization. A formal announcement is expected in a day or two.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff | November 27, 2012