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The Race For US Soccer President

US Soccer Fans by David Wilson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Race For US Soccer President

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

The next US Soccer President will be elected in Orlando, Florida on February 10th. Since the men’s national team crashed and burned out of World Cup Qualification, a new president has been the talk of the town. Sunil Gulati, who previously brought US Soccer to new heights, is stepping aside. His departure makes way for a new voice. For those of us who are still crushed by not getting to the World Cup, it’s a new beginning. My hope is that we can rebuild our youth program, and push US Soccer into the spotlight on the world stage.

How the Election Works

It’s been over 20 years since we last went through the election process. Gulati has been president for multiple terms and, even though a term is only 4 years, he has been running unopposed. The process is quite complex so I’m not going to drone on about it here. Basically there are a whole bunch of different associations that contribute votes. They come from soccer associations (Youth, Adult, Professional), the Athletes Council, voting members of the Board of Directors, past federation presidents, and various delegates from other types of affiliated associations. They need to attend the National Council Meeting in order to vote. If you want to dive deeper into the details, US Soccer has it all laid out in an FAQ on their website.

The Candidates

There are candidates I absolutely don’t want elected, some I’m indifferent about, and others I had never heard of before. There’s one candidate I want to win. I bet you can guess which one.

Paul Caligiuri

Paul is a former US Player who played in multiple World Cups, the Olympics, and the German Bundesliga. Since his retirement, he has worked in multiple levels of soccer in the US. My biggest gripe is the development of our youth, which Paul has spent a lot of time studying. In 1989 he scored the winning goal against Trinidad and Tobago to launch the US into the World Cup for the first time in 40 years. Winning this election would certainly be a storybook victory. I need new memories of playing Trinidad and Tobago. His platform? “The Player is the Product.” I like it, but I’m not sold.

My assessment: Indifferent

Kathy Carter

Kathy has spent her life dedicated to soccer. She has been running marketing for US Soccer in a few different ways. She’s pushed domestic and international branding, however I think she is part of the status quo. What we need moving forward is a new, perhaps slightly out of the box leader who is willing to hold themselves accountable. As good as Carter has been continuing to grow the presence of women’s soccer in the US and around the world, I don’t see her as someone who will bring us to the next level.

My assessment: Nah

Carlos Cordeiro

Cordeiro has been serving as Vice President, and has been involved with the US Soccer Federation for a decade. Carlos is an intriguing candidate because he’s the one who has been part of the current regime, yet he has a serious upside. He is a soccer fanatic who went to Harvard and made partner at Goldman Sachs in the 90s. He has a lot of experience in international finance, and has served in 5 different posts within the USSF. Something else that tips in Cordeiro’s favor is that he is a Hispanic immigrant who can potentially bring a different sort of thinking to the chief position. Or at least the Miami Herald seems to think so. As much as I think Cordeiro is a capable candidate, I don’t think he can shake things up enough.

My assessment: Close, but no cigar

Steve Gans

Steve is a business guy. He’s a lawyer from Boston. His love for soccer stems from playing since youth and coaching his kids. Essentially, he’s the dad of the group. He has an extensive business mind, and could bring some decent structure to the federation. Frankly I don’t think he has enough experience within the sport to be able to turn heads (in the right direction).

My assessment: Points for being from my hometown, but stick to the amateur pitches

Kyle Martino

Kyle Martino is everything we need for US Soccer. He grew up playing in the US youth system, played in MLS and for the US National team, and is a fantastic spokesperson for the sport in this country. I really can’t say enough good things about him. NBC Sports won broadcasting rights for the Premier League a few years ago, and Kyle Martino had been a central voice in commentary for them until he took a hiatus in November to focus on his candidacy. His ability to talk about the intricacies of the sport, yet make things relatable to an American audience is uncanny. He brings a young, fresh perspective and understands what works and what needs to be fixed. His platform is “Transparency. Equality. Progress”. I believe wholeheartedly that Kyle Martino is the most well-rounded person for the job. He believes that there can’t be just one person in charge. “It takes a village”, so to speak. He wants to develop a team that will take us forward. I want him to develop a team that will take us forward. If you want to read more on him, check out his vision for “everyone’s game”.

My Assessment: All my eggs are in Martino’s basket

Hope Solo

Hope Solo has done some pretty incredible things for the women’s side of the game. She has played keeper at every national level since she made the U-14 team at age 12. Hope is a World Cup winner and has won 2 Gold Glove awards. A big plus about her is that she has been instrumental in the fight for equal wages, and has actually filed a discrimination suit against the Federation for their bias towards men. We need a president who is going to look at all aspects of the game, regardless of whether it’s for the men or the women, and find ways to push us forward. All of that said, Hope Solo is a hothead who has been in and out of court for domestic disputes. She has been outspoken, for better or worse, and I believe could be a detriment to making progress in the short term. Don’t get me wrong, I think she can help continue the movement for equality and push things in the right direction. I also believe she is the worst candidate we have.

My Assessment: No business as US Soccer President

Michael Winograd

To be honest, Winograd is the one I know least about. He has played professionally in Israel and seems to be a decent lawyer. He certainly has passion, but where’s the experience?

My assessment: Doesn’t have the chops

Eric Wynalda

When talking about US Soccer royalty, Wynalda has to enter the conversation. He played in 3 World Cups and scored 34 goals for the USMNT, which is currently good for 4th all time. Eric was also the first American player to play in the German Bundesliga, doing so for Saarbrücken back in 1994. He has continued on to be a commentator in his post-player career. Talking about the international team’s presence and certain aspects of the youth program make Wynalda an interesting candidate, but ultimately I don’t think he has enough.

My Assessment: Coin flip for silver or bronze

The Final Vote

I can’t pretend to know how this will actually pan out, but I do think there are truly just 3 potential heavy hitters. We’ll see what happens on February 10th. If I had a say, I’d vote as follows:

  1. Kyle Martino
  2. Carlos Cordeiro
  3. Eric Wynalda
  4. Paul Caligiuri
  5. Kathy Carter
  6. Steve Gans
  7. Michael Winograd
  8. Hope Solo

Kevin is an actor, director, playwright, and musician who works in tech. He is die hard New England sports and an avid Tottenham supporter. His qualifications include scoring 1 point in his elementary school basketball career, 4 years of mixed little league results, and breaking his arm with a skip-it days before pre-season workouts started for Freshman football.

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