On the 10th of February in Toronto (which is ironic) the election for the United States Soccer Federation president will be held. The current president, Sunil Gulati, has been at the helm since 2006 and decided to not seek reelection after men’s team failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018. While the women’s and younger sides for the men have looked good, there needed to be a change and Gulati knew he was not going to be a part of that process and if he didn’t then he should not have been regardless. Gulati has done a good job as this program really has risen in the past decade, but it wasn’t good enough as evidenced this past November. Changes are needed and Gulati was resistant to that. If something like that happens and you say that nothing needs to change, then your time is finished if you want more progress because the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting different results. However, Gulati decided to not run again which means fresh blood will be in power.
That being said, some of the candidates seem to represent the establishment rather than the change needed. Regardless of what it looks like, they all have one thing in common and that is they all want what is best for the program. But wanting best doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the best. While this article is purely opinionated based, the changes that one of these candidates suggests is what is absolutely needed for the program to grow. Soccer is on the rise in this country and it’s getting to the point where everyone is taking it more and more serious. Soccer, while will never be the top dog in terms of sports here in the United States, could at least become incredibly popular.
Before going into details of all the candidates, here is the list of the people are going up for election:
That is eight candidates who will run for president of the USSF. Now there are three candidates that have realistically no chance at winning and that’s Michael Winograd (who does have some good ideas), Hope Solo (the former star goalkeeper for the women’s side), and Paul Caliguri (a former player on the men’s side). That leaves Kathy Carter, Carlos Cordeiro, Steve Gans, Kyle Martino, and Eric Wynalda as the most realistic candidates here.
The favorite here is Carter. According to an ESPN article, this is what she wants to do for the program:
“She wants to bring more diversity to executive-level positions within the USSF and create a technical department to manage on-field aspects, including the hiring of coaches. She wants to go “all-in” on the women’s game and stabilize the NWSL. Perhaps most controversially, Carter wants to form an independent commission, headed by sports executive Casey Wasserman, to examine every aspect of player development.”
Cordeiro is the next favorite here, but many feel like he represents the establishment as he is the understudy of Gulati. From the same ESPN article, this is what he wants:
“Cordeiro wants to engage in a considerable restructuring of the USSF, which starts with making the office of president more a chairperson of the board role, with the incumbent working more collaboratively with the board of directors. Cordeiro wants to create a new technical department to oversee all on-field aspects, including the hiring of coaches. He wants to appoint an independent USSF board member to oversee the awarding of future commercial rights contracts. And Cordeiro seeks to make the game more affordable for players and coaches by increasing scholarships and grants.”
Martino is an outsider that has strong support. I actually like his approach a lot, but he is not my first choice. However, he has a strong chance of winning. This is what he wants according to ESPN:
“Martino’s platform consists of three planks. The first involves making the USSF more transparent, while making the presidency a paid position. He is also emphasizing equality, which includes making the game more accessible for kids from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as better treatment of the women’s national team. The third is titled ‘Progress’ and includes clarifying the youth player path, creating an environment for more collaboration among the various youth soccer stakeholders, as well as a gradual path towards implementing a system of promotion/relegation at the pro level.”
Gans has the least chance of winning from all five of these candidates. From the same ESPN article, this is what Gans wants:
“While Gans is among the proponents for improved corporate governance, a separate search committee for the next men’s national team coach, and equality and greater support for the women’s game, much of his platform’s focus is on revamping the youth system. He is proposing that the development academy be re-evaluated and wants to use part of U.S. Soccer’s $130 million surplus to make the game more affordable. He wants to solve what he calls “the counterproductive competition” among various youth sanctioning bodies. Gans is also keen to give the state associations at both the youth and adult levels more say in how they are run.”
Which leads me to the final candidate, Eric Wynalda. Wynalda wants this for the program according to ESPN:
“Wynalda is the champion of the anti-establishment wing, advocating for — among other things — a path to promotion and relegation, moving MLS to a winter calendar, renegotiating the CBA for the U.S. women’s national team, and securing a media rights deal similar to that proposed by MP & Silva back in September. He wants to use an endowment fund to make the game more affordable for coaches and players, as well as educate parents new to the game. And Wynalda wants the relationship with SUM to be ‘thoroughly vetted and reviewed’ to make sure that the USSF is maximizing its take from commercial rights deals.”
I always save the best for last and because of that I give Wynalda my endorsement. He is a former player who knows exactly how progress should be made for this country. I will get into more of what Wynalda wants in a future, but honestly his view is absolutely what the program needs to succeed with. Major League Soccer absolutely needs promotion/relegation (a topic I will delve into deeper). The CBA is also a really big thing for me as equal pay is a top priority regardless of what the argument is. I do think there are a lot of good ideas that other candidates have that Wynalda should adopt if he was to become president, but he is the most clear and obvious choice to become president. He has my endorsement all the way.
*Here is a link to the ESPN article.