Like every other soccer-obsessed youth player in New Jersey in the 1990s – those who got to see both the World Cup come to the U.S. in 1994 and Major League Soccer launch in 1995 – Remy Cherin idolized homegrown soccer stars Tony Meola and John Harkes.
Cherin, however, looked up to one other person, too: Jerry Maguire.
It made sense. Even back then, Cherin had the same personality traits as the fictional sports agent: He was a high-energy sports nut with a passion for marketing.
“I’ll admit it, I wasn’t the greatest student in the world when I was at Westfield High School,” he said with a laugh. “I remember one time, I was with my mom and my guidance counselor said, ‘You really need to get serious about your future.’
“That was just after the movie came out, and I remember saying, ‘I’ll just be Jerry Maguire, that sounds like a really cool job.’”
Two decades later, Cherin is indeed living the Tom Cruise role. He has become one of the top soccer agents in the country, leading a boutique agency (Remington Ellis Management) that represents more than two dozen men and women’s players.
This week, after finishing up a few deals for men’s players in Europe, he’s headed to the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand/Australia. His firm represents seven of the 23 players on the U.S. national team.
Cherin said he can’t wait to see the group of players he represents, which includes Rose Lavelle, Alyssa Naeher, Andi Sullivan, Emily Sonnet, Lynn Williams, Kristie Mewes and Aubrey Kingsbury.
It’s another milestone moment in a career that began with that wise-cracking moment.
The small but powerful Remington Ellis Management team:
· Remy Cherin: Principal, agent;
· Ben Roth: Agent and director of recruitment;
· Mike Fucito: Agent and career advisor;
· Jaime Freeman: GM, women’s soccer;
· Melissa Terry: Agent (based in Europe)
The U.S. team, which plays its final group stage match late Monday night/early Tuesday morning (Eastern time), appears set to advance to the knockout stage of an event in which it is the two-time defending champion.
Cherin said he is going as much as a fan and to show support than to do business. That part of the business plan was set before the players left to go down under.
Being a sports agent for a women’s soccer player is a bit different than that for their male counterparts. While the women have fought for equal pay for the national team, those rates don’t necessarily apply to their club teams. It makes marketing deals even more important.
Cherin said the five-member team at Remington Ellis is taking different approaches with different clients.
For instance, Lynn Williams is coming into her own.
“With her, the strategy leading up to the World Cup was, ‘Talk to brands now, do deals, figure out a social plan while you’re at the tournament,’” he said. “We really wanted to maximize what’s going on pre-tournament because it’s her first World Cup.”
It’s not the first World Cup for Lavelle, one of the breakout stars of the 2019 championship team.
“Everyone wants to work with her, but she’s very much focused on the football,” Cherin said. “She may be leaving some things on the table, which can be risky, but if they win again, it can really pay off.”
One of the reasons Lavelle can do that is because she already is well established with many major brands, including Icy Hot (you’ve likely seen her commercial) as well as Chipotle, Nike and Coca-Cola. She’s worked with American Girl doll, too.
Lavelle’s natural talents go beyond soccer. She has more than a half-million Instagram followers. One recent post had more than 100,000 likes.
“She’s amazing on social media,” Cherin said. “Her engagement rates are through the roof. In 2019, she was up there with Naomi Osaka. It was just unbelievable. She’s very picky with her brands, but she’s done a great job with them. They are now long-term partners, which enables her to let them know her football is her first priority right now.”
Europe, New Zealand, Australia … Coca-Cola, Nike, Chipotle: It all makes it sound as if Cherin’s days really are a movie that has come to life.
Cherin, however, knows the truth: These moments are few and far between – and they only come after decades of hard work.
For Cherin, that began after graduating from Boston University in 2006. Various jobs working at Madison Square Garden, the Red Bulls and Vice Media helped bring him into the world of athletes, products, marketing, sports and sales.
Shortly thereafter, he became licensed as sports agent through FIFA, the governing body of soccer around the world. There was just one problem.
“It was like having a driver’s license but not having a car,” he joked.
Clients came, but in the early days, the MLS league minimum was about $12,000 a year.
“We got 5% of that, you do the math,” he said.
It was hardly a ‘Show me the money’ moment.
Eventually it came together when he brought a promotional deal for Vita Coco, a new coconut water, to Red Bulls star Jozy Altidore. It then became a game of one-thing-leads-to-another.
Altidore, a rising star at the time, went to Spain to play for Villarreal. There, he introduced Cherin to Spanish national team legend Marcos Senna, who was looking to wind down his career in the U.S. Cherin helped bring him to the Cosmos.
Soon after, Cherin picked up two of his first big MLS clients: Brian Meredith, who played at PDA (the famed Player Development Academy in Zarephath) and then in MLS for 10 plus years, and Connor Lade of Morristown, who went on to play at St. John’s and then the Red Bulls.
“Those were key moments for us,” he said.
It also reinforced for Cherin and his team at Remington Ellis what they already knew from growing up here: There was enough talent in New Jersey to make a business.
“On both the men’s and the women’s side, we want to make sure we’re representing the best players in the state,” he said. “There’s obviously that connection when you can drive to a meeting and you’re from the same area and you kind of speak the same language.
“We obviously value our relationships with the local clubs and the local trainers, where players work out in the offseason. Those are the most important connections for us.
“I think Gotham FC is doing a great job. Red Bull is building a really good program. NYCFC has done a really good job, too. This is our most important market by distance. Not even close, really.”
He also learned that relationships – and referrals – are the key to everything.
Emily Sonnett, the agency’s first signing in the women’s game, introduced them to Lavelle, who introduced them to Andi Sullivan.
“We’ve been building ever since,” Cherin said.
It has been nearly 30 years since the men’s World Cup came to the U.S. – nearly 25 since the women’s national team had its watershed moment by winning the 1999 World Cup in California.
And in each year since, there has been talk about soccer gaining equal footing with the big four sports in the country. Cherin’s not sure that’s going to happen – or if it needs to.
“I don’t even know what that means,” he said.
He does know this: Fan interest in both the men’s and women’s game has never been higher. And with the Men’s World Cup returning in 2026 (and the women’s event possibly coming again in 2027 or 2031), that interest only is going to grow.
Especially on the women’s side, which is taking off in Europe in a way few thought possible just a few years back.
“I think the big European clubs have switched from seeing the women’s game as something they should do to something that really is commercially viable,” Cherin said.
It’s helping the women’s players get what they’ve wanted all along: To be treated like the professional athletes that they are, Cherin said.
After all, they already are stars. The ability of players to connect to fans through social media channels has completely changed the marketing game and their ability to raise their profile.
That’s why Cherin said he likes where Remington Ellis is now.
The firm has resisted opportunities to be brought into bigger firms. And its long-term goals more likely include adding personnel to their internal team rather than their client list.
“We like what we’re doing – and feel like we’re growing organically,” he said. “In the last Women’s World Cup, we had three players, now we have seven.
“And for us, it’s about finding the right clients, not just signing 1,000 clients every year and seeing what works out. We’re more focused on retention than recruitment.”
The firm has plenty of big names to work with. In addition to the women’s players – almost all of which figure to be prominent in the next four-year cycle – Remington Ellis has two promising players on the men’s side: Jack Harrison, an English star who played high school and college soccer in the U.S. and then briefly in the MLS before heading to the Premier League, and Daniel Edelman, the captain of the U.S. Under 20 team.
Cherin, who lives in Montclair, feels fortunate about his spot in the soccer world. It’s a far cry from the beginning of his work life.
“I was living on my cousin’s couch in Brooklyn,” he said with a laugh.
And a long way from the days of being that soccer-obsessed kid in Westfield.
“I remember going to Sneaker Stadium on Route 22 to see Tony Meola,” he said.
The future possibilities are great.
“I feel like we’re positioned really well right now,” he said. “If you’d asked me in 2010, I would have killed to be where we are right now. I have so much gratitude to be here.
“And the game never stops. It’s going to continue to evolve, and we’ll continue to grow and learn. I can’t wait to see it.”