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Brooklyn FC CEO: "There's an appetite for the alternative"

Mack Mansfield tells us how Brooklyn Football Club will stand out, why calling Coney Island's baseball stadium home is a good idea, and what he learned at New Amsterdam FC.

Maximilian 'Mack' Mansfield (center, in the Brooklyn Dodgers cap), president and CEO of Brooklyn FC | @images_mm/Brooklyn FC on LinkedIn.

Brooklyn Football Club appointed Maximilian "Mack" Mansfield as its first president and CEO in December 2023, but he's no stranger to New York's lower-league soccer scene.

Mansfield was co-founder and sporting director of the now-defunct New Amsterdam Football Club, which played parts of two tumultuous seasons in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA). He also launched multiple local youth soccer projects, and will now look to help the new United Soccer League expansion franchise get up and running with both men's and women's teams

The Brooklyn FC CEO recently spoke with Hudson River Blue via Zoom to discuss a range of topics related to his new club. Such as: The benefits of calling Coney Island's Maimonides Park home, how Brooklyn's men's and women's teams will stand out in the local soccer scene, and lessons learned from his rocky stint with New Amsterdam FC.

Note: This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Hudson River Blue: What have the early days been like for you and your new role now with Brooklyn? What has your main focus been in the time since you were appointed CEO, what's taken up most of your time as kickoff for the women’s side gets closer, now only months away?

Maximilian 'Mack' Mansfield: The biggest things we've been working on behind the scenes are hiring, just hiring a full-on backroom staff, not as much on the sporting side, but we’re now shifting to sporting, and then making sure our venue meets all the FIFA standards. New York Cosmos were the last pro soccer tenant there, but a lot's changed in US Soccer and the landscape of pro-league standards since then, so we're spending a lot of time making sure the products we put on the field and the facility and venue is primed for soccer.

HRB: You started an academy that's now going to be a part of Brooklyn FC. How do you see that working in terms of actually feeding through to the first team, how quickly do you think internal academy players will break through, and what will make the Brooklyn academy more appealing than, say, those of one of the local MLS teams?

MM: I started Two Bridges because pay-to-play soccer, it holds back a lot of talent. I've said before, I don't think we have a chance at a World Cup, realistically, until pay-to-play is at least lessened or dealt with. Because it just leaves behind so many talents, and Two Bridges will come in, and I think as soon as the first season you'll see guys from the academy in Brooklyn. I mean, we've kind of built, in the soccer scene, a bit of a name, and a lot of the big teams are now helping themselves to players—guys have gone to New England Revolution and NYCFC and Red Bull. But between NYCFC and Red Bull, let's say for under-19, you've got two teams of 20 guys, so that's 40 spots, right? In a city of millions, but when you look at London, I mean, there's 24 pro clubs in London, they all have a youth academy, a strong youth academy. 

So you're just not planting enough seeds, investing in enough players, giving them that high-level opportunity. So I think there's plenty to go around, and I'd say the advantage we have, our path to pro is quick, right? Because we want young guys to be playing professionally and we want young guys to showcase themselves and use this to get themselves into Europe, where NYCFC and Red Bull, their model is a little bit different. They sign a lot of high profile players and it just leaves fewer spots for the young academy players to get in and get game time.

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