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Curt Johnson currently serves as the President of the USL's North Carolina FC and NWSL's North Carolina Courage. Johnson's professional soccer administrative resume also includes holding the General Manager position with the Richmond Kickers (at the time members of the A-League/Division 2) and Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards (now known as Sporting Kansas City).
Johnson, a Raleigh native and youth soccer product of the Capital Area Soccer League, was an All-State midfielder at Ravenscroft School (State Champions in 1983 and 1986) and an All-Star defender on the Raleigh Rockets (CASL) club team (State Champions 1984 and 1986). He attended North Carolina State University (N.C. State), and played as a defender for the N.C. State Wolfpack Men's soccer team from 1987-1990. During that time, Johnson started 72 games during his four-year career, and as a senior captain, helped lead the Wolfpack to and end of season #2 national ranking, the 1990 ACC Championship and the NCAA semifinals. Graduating in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication studies, he also served as a Volunteer Assistant Coach at North Carolina State University.
From 1992-1994 he served as the Midwest region's Marketing director for Adidas. He worked out of the U.S. Soccer headquarters (Soccer House) in Chicago and managed the US Soccer/Adidas marketing partnership and grassroots soccer relationships throughout the Midwest, including the Indiana University Men's soccer team. In addition, Johnson helped to manage and promote the Adidas marketing partnership with FIFA and the 1994 World Cup.
Sports coaching and management
After serving as the first Director of Alumni Affairs at Ravenscroft School, he was Assistant Soccer Coach for the N.C. State Men's soccer team. Johnson then joined the United Soccer League's (USL) Richmond Kickers as Vice President of Operations in 1997. He also served as General Manager of the club 1997-1999, increasing ticket and sponsorship revenue by more than 100 percent over a three-year period. In November 1998, Johnson and the Kickers won the USL Progress Award, given to the league leader in overall organizational improvement. Johnson also helped develop the framework for the very successful Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club. On the field, Richmond enjoyed great success winning a conference and regular season championship (Commissioners Cup) in 1998 and advancing to the playoffs in 1997, 1998, and 1999.
Kansas City Wizards
In November 1999, Lamar Hunt and Clark Hunt hired Johnson as the General Manager of the Major League Soccer’s Kansas City Wizards, a position he held until 2006, leading the club to capture the 2000 MLS Supporter’s Shield, 2000 MLS Cup, and 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Johnson was one of the youngest (31 years old) team leaders in modern major league professional sports history when he helped lead the Wizards incredible turnaround (worst to first) and to the Major League Soccer Championship in 2000. Johnson also oversaw ticket sales staff, which tripled its season ticket base from 2000-2004. During his tenure as General Manager, the Kansas City Wizards became the first organization in MLS history to record five consecutive years of paid attendance growth. Johnson assisted with the sale of the Wizards to the current local ownership group OnGoal, led by Cerner founders Neal Patterson and Cliff Illig.
From 2007-2008, Johnson was Director of Marketing with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, and led the department responsible for the branding of the team, helping them achieve their best season ever in the area of ticket sales.
US Club Soccer
After spending three years with US Club Soccer, Johnson became the president of the Carolina RailHawks in 2011, winning the 2011 and 2013 NASL Regular Season Championship, playing two Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, and defeating five-time MLS Champion LA Galaxy three consecutive years.
Since Johnson’s arrival, the RailHawks have seen tremendous growth from a business perspective and game attendance has tripled. The RailHawks have also produced record-setting results on the playing field as they have consistently been at or near the top of the standings in the NASL. From 2012-2014 the RailHawks did not lose a game at home, a streak that spanned 24 games. Johnson has served as a liaison to the community, establishing several partnerships including the highly successful Capital Area RailHawks Academy collaboration with CASL and was a driving force establishing Elite Technique, a highly successful supplementary soccer training program for the area’s youth players, available to all players from any club. He has been inducted into the Ravenscroft School Hall of Fame, Capital Area Soccer League (CASL) Hall of Fame, and the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame.
North Carolina FC and North Carolina Courage
After changing their name from the Carolina RailHawks to North Carolina FC in 2016, and after the organization acquired and relocated the Western New York Flash of the National Women's Soccer League to North Carolina in 2017 to become the North Carolina Courage, Johnson became president and general manager of both organizations.
As President and General Manager of the North Carolina Football Club, he helps lead the state’s most successful professional soccer organization both from a team and business perspective, helping lead the club to two NASL regular season championships, the 2017 NWSL Shield and increasing attendance and fan experience. He also is an integral part of the Triangle MLS Committee, a group of local high-level business and community leaders devoted to bringing a Major League Soccer franchise to the Triangle.
Johnson has been instrumental in forming a partnership with CASL and the Triangle Futbol Club Alliance (TFCA) to create North Carolina FC Youth and the largest youth-to-professional club in the country. One of the focal points of this partnership is the development of local boys and girls talent through the NCFC Youth Academy (formerly Capital Area RailHawks Academy), and the NC Courage Academy which will begin play in the fall of 2017.
- Boyce, David (1999-11-19). "Wizards hire general manager from A-League". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
- "NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE SELECTS FOUR IN CLUB'S FIRST NWSL DRAFT". North Carolina Courage. 12 January 2017. Archived from the original on 16 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
- "North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame". www.ncsoccerhalloffame.com. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
- WRAL (2012-10-10). "RailHawks president Curt Johnson selected to NC Soccer Hall of Fame :: WRALSportsFan.com". WRALSportsFan.com. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
- "USATODAY.com - Wizards GM Curt Johnson leaving after season". usatoday30.usatoday.com. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
- "News Post". www.ravenscroft.org. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
- "RailHawks Starting from Scratch on Player Contracts; Actively Signing Players | IMS Soccer News". Retrieved 2016-12-20.
- "NORTH CAROLINA FOOTBALL CLUB ENTERS INTO AGREEMENT TO ACQUIRE RIGHTS TO NWSL'S 2016 CHAMPIONS WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH". North Carolina Courage.