The United States Soccer Federation will Elect a new President on Saturday and everybody is still wondering…
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
US Soccer is days away from electing a new President, and the process has been, in one word, entertaining. Depending on who you ask, the eight candidates vying for the position appear to have everything and nothing to offer. The beautiful sh*t storm of issues that is American soccer has engulfed an altruistic cast of characters. This all leaves most of us just as enraged as Taylor Twellman back in November. The only thing guaranteed is that the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on February 8 - 10 in Orlando, Florida will alter the course of US Soccer history, for better or worse.
Let’s take a brief look at our eight valiant patriots, and the perplexing election process that awaits them.
Kathy Carter – Currently on-leave from her role as president of Soccer United Marketing (commonly known as SUM, the controversial, yet powerful, economic partner to US Soccer and MLS). Carter, a former goalkeeper at The College of William & Mary (class of ‘90), holds an impressive resume in the business of US Soccer, which makes her a logical candidate for an internal hire. She may be a long shot, but then again, her standing in the soccer-industrial complex of SUM, MLS, and USSF will at least translate into a handful of insider votes.
Steve Gans – Boston-based attorney and former professional indoor player that has business experience with US youth clubs, and the Premier League. Similar to the other lawyer in the field, Gans seems wholly competent but may be too much of an outsider to gain traction. If anything, he has played an important role in questioning the USSF’s apparent midstream rule changes. More on that later.
Hope Solo – It’s difficult to take Solo seriously due to her late arrival in the race, but she has actually presented some decent arguments against pay-to-play, and the business first model of US Soccer. Undoubtedly, she had a dominant career with the USWNT, but she is a polarizing figure for such a high-profile role. She has earned her stay somewhere in the structure of US Soccer, but it appears that she doesn’t quite have enough people in her corner yet. Perhaps, USMNT Director of Goalkeeping?
Paul Caligiuri – Most famous for scoring THE goal that sent the US to their first World Cup in 1990 after a 40-year drought. Like many of the other candidates, he does support pro/rel, but lacks the celebrity profile of Wynalda and Martino. Also, pretty sure he doesn’t have a website, which has absolutely nothing to do with his capacity to lead a multi-million dollar organization, but, meh.
Carlos Cordeiro – The male version of Kathy Carter. Ok that's a discredit to both, but Cordeiro is the current VP of US Soccer, and like Solo, entered the race when it was "cool". Even though he claims to have split ties with Gulati, he has struggled to shake suspicions that he is nothing more than Sunil's puppet.
Michael Winograd – The other attorney, and former professional player in Israel. He also has some coaching and administrative experience at the college and semi-pro level. Winograd has actually appeared stronger with each interview, and public presentation. Among his policy plans, he wants to create development centers in every state and is one of many candidates in support of solidarity payments (more on that later as well). Unfortunately, he and Gans will probably be overlooked for more popular candidates due to the fact that this is, in part, a popularity contest.
Eric Wynalda – By far the most hyped candidate in the US Soccer twitter-verse. Wynalda also has the backing of powerful lower league administrators and youth clubs. He has managed to tap into the anger many fans feel, proving once more an effective tactic in current American politics. On top of his stellar playing career, Wynalda has been the most vocal champion of pro/rel, switching to a FIFA calendar, and improving development and visibility at the Amateur and Semi-Pro levels. Opponents to his campaign argue he lacks business managerial experience, and some have referenced, rather crudely, his personal financial troubles following a bad divorce back in '03. Not going to lie, I like the guy, but if he wins, I just hope he doesn't burn the whole house down based on principle.
Kyle Martino – At least in social media, the only other true competitor to Wynalda. Although, there are rumblings that these two figures would be open to joining forces, regardless of who wins. Martino had a respectable playing career being selected 8th overall by the Columbus Crew and being named MLS Rookie of the Year. He earned his first international cap on November 17, 2002, against El Salvador and whether his intentions are earnest or not, credit is due for leaving a cushy NBC Sports job to campaign for an unpaid position. He also has public backing from Thierry Henry and David Beckham, for whatever that's worth. And, most importantly, LOOK AT THAT HEAD OF HAIR, my god. For all his quaff, Martino lacks serious coaching and business management.
Christian Pulisic – Just playing, he's not an official candidate, but I think most of us would let the Boy-King select everything from the starting XI, to the orange slices at half time.
The Voting Process - e pluribus unum or et tu brute?
So how are these candidates going to be selected? Pretty straight forward, just your standard constitutional autocratic monarchy with unlimited varying single and double digit weighted votes. I exaggerate a tad, but votes seem to be designated to a dizzying combination of affiliates, past presidents (Sunil does what Sunil wants), the current US Soccer Board of Directors (which includes Garber and Cordeiro), an Athlete's Council, as well as several lifetime members.
The overall number of votes awarded depends on the number of registered members in attendance during voting day (not encouraging any stupidity from rogue AO chapters, but for the prosperity of the federation, votes are counted only for those WHO MAKE IT TO THE AGM). We can expect the distribution of votes to play out in the following way: the Athlete's Council will receive 20%, Youth, Adult, and Pro Councils to split their voting percentages equally around 25% each, and the remaining will garner about 2%.
All votes will be cast via secret electronic ballot during the National Council Meeting on Saturday morning, February 10th. The newly elected president will begin his or her term effective immediately at the conclusion of that meeting.
My prediction: by 10:00 pm that night the old guard, led by their fearless professor, will storm the celebratory dance party for the newly formed triumvirate of Martino-Solo-Wynalda, located in the main ballroom of the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. Armed with electric eels, stingrays and sea urchins, Gulati's henchmen will enact vicious revenge, slaughtering all in their way, and by midnight, the US Soccer polity will retract back into status quo complacency.
To be continued...
While my prediction is fanciful, the issues and drama surrounding these candidates are incredibly real and complex. But stay tuned, in Part II and Part III later this week I will paint the rest of that picture.
Author: Sean Malvey