NEW YORK — Kevin Payne, who was an executive with two Major League Soccer teams and was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2021, died Sunday. He was 69.
U.S. Soccer, MLS and D.C. United, which won four MLS titles and two U.S. Open Cups during Payne’s tenure, put out statements confirming his death. The Washington Post reported that Payne died in Charleston, South Carolina, from a lung illness.
“He will always be remembered as a dedicated champion of our club, MLS, our community and soccer in the U.S.,” D.C. United’s statement said.
Payne was president and general manager of D.C. United from 1994-2001 and then president and CEO of the team from 2004-2012. He also was president of Toronto FC from 2012-13, a member of the MLS Board of Governors for 18 years and the executive director and CEO of US Club Soccer from 2015-2021.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber called Payne “instrumental in the formation of the League” and that he had “helped build D.C. United into the first MLS dynasty.”
“Kevin leaves a legacy not only of success in business and sports, but he will also be remembered for his strong moral compass, his kindness, and his devotion to his friends and family,” Garber said in a statement. “His passing will be deeply felt by everyone at MLS and throughout the entire soccer community.”