With Sunil Gulati choosing not to run for re-election, US Soccer is in need of new leadership. The US Soccer Federation (USSF) will convene tomorrow to hold an election and choose a new president, who will hopefully lift the US out of the malaise it finds itself in. During the last two years, both the Men’s and Women’s teams have underperformed (though the women’s underperformance is more flukish than the men’s). This culminated in a shocking loss to Trinidad and Tobago that will keep the US Men from competing in the World Cup this summer. The most pressing question for any endorsement is what USSF should prioritize, especially considering the different interests at play.
In my opinion, USSF should focus on building a Men’s National Team that can compete on the world stage. The Women’s National Team is consistently one of top teams in the world, and probably does not need much in the way of short term change. The Women’s National Team does have some issues that the next USSF president will have to deal with (namely equal pay), but the Women’s Team lacks the kind of systemic issues that require long term planning and vision. The success of the Men’s National Team will also boost the popularity of soccer in the United States. We Americans cheer for winners in practically every sport, and a competitive Men’s team would help make a lot of the other platform planks more realistic. Just as having real stars has boosted the women’s game, making a player like Christian Pulisic a household name would do wonders for the sport domestically. This would involve significant improvement in player development, player scouting, and (most importantly) coaching.
Realistically, there are two candidates with a strong chance of winning the election: Kathy Carter and Carlos Cordeiro. Kyle Martino, Eric Wynalda, and Steve Gans also have realistic odds, though their chances are lower that Carter and Cordeiro. I choose to endorse Carter. Carter’s independent commission for player development, if well executed, should help improve US youth players’ technical skills and USSF’s scouting of talent. Carter should also help improve the professional aspect of the women’s game by helping shore up the NWSL. The only real knock against her is that she doesn’t have a stated position on the Women’s CBA. For these reasons, I think Kathy Carter is the best choice for USSF President.