D.C. United, the most successful club in United States professional soccer history, announced today that Kevin Payne has stepped down as president and CEO, marking an end to nearly two decades with the organization.

“Kevin’s lengthy list of accomplishments speaks to his strong acumen as a leader,” said owner Jason Levien. “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.”

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

Since D.C. United’s inception in 1996, Payne has served as the club’s lead executive.  In addition to the club’s honors during his tenure, Payne’s resume at United is filled with individual League honors and awards and, for his efforts to promote soccer in the United States, he was awarded the prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award by U.S. Soccer in February 2011. 

“They say the only constant in life is change,” said Payne.  “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, and very excited about the next phase for D.C. United, as well.  I know the leadership of the team will take it to new heights on, and off, the field.  I look forward to returning to RFK and wish everyone in the D.C. United family the best of luck.”

D.C. United finished the 2012 MLS campaign 17-10-7 (58 points), placing third in the overall League table.  The club finished the regular season with a seven-game unbeaten streak before a dramatic playoff run ended in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

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