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Sunil Gulati critical of USSF presidential election’s tone

Sunil Gulati is not happy about the tone of the current USSF presidential election.

Speaking at the 2018 Youth Soccer Awards Gala in Philadelphia, Gulati expressed frustration with the way some of the candidates that are looking to replace him have campaigned. Gulati did not mention anyone by name specifically during his approximate 17-minute speech, but was critical of negative tone he feels has take over the election.

“There’s also ways to have, obviously, elections with a positive tone, and the tone in this particular election is far from that,” Gulati said. “That’s, to me, very disappointing.”

The 58-year-old Gulati acknowledged that a lot of the recent criticisms have come in the aftermath of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s crushing defeat to Trinidad & Tobago last October, a loss that shockingly knocked the Americans out of this summer’s World Cup. Gulati, however, insinuated that the U.S. was put in a position to win that day.

“We lost a really big game in October in Trinidad and (former U.S. head coach) Bruce Arena said, ‘It’s on me,’ and I’m saying today, ‘It’s on me,” said Gulati. “I haven’t heard a lot of other people say it’s on them, but that’s okay because we are in charge and we are in the leadership position. But we sent the most successful coach in the history of American soccer, with virtually a healthy team, and we lost a game.”

Gulati touched on a wide range of topics, including recent hot-button topics such as U.S. Soccer’s handling of Jonathan Gonzalez, theories on how to end pay-to-play in youth soccer, and much more.

You can watch the full video below:


  1. sunil accepting responsibility now is bs. arena already resigned and faced the firing quad so to speak for not qualifying. to say this now is too late imo

  2. Pro/Rel will never happen. What owner is going to allow his investment to evaporate just because his team stinks? None

    Sunil was failure and he doesn’t what to hear that. We were higher ranked when he came in then when he left… by far. He stayed too long with Klinsmann, should never have rehired, then rehired Arena (mistake 2) and that cost us our seat at the next WC.

    The only right thing he did was quit. Where we go from here will depend who gets elected. I really hope its someone that can turn this around but hiring a real, and proven, coach. With
    what were paying, there should be someone. That someone must start a massive youth movement immediately and not one based on personal favs. Everybodys job must be on the line

  3. I disagree that Kilinnsman left the team in a huge hole. We lost to Mexico at home, which is the best team by far, 2-1. And then got pounded in Costa Rica, where we always get beat badley. Yes the team quit that game in CR, but the team had just had a good run at the Copa. It may have been time to change, but Arena was given a pretty good chance to qualify. Easiest part of the Hex left to play.

  4. Gulati did not name names, but Wynalda and Solo would have been at the top of the list if he had.

    I agree with him that simple complaining, which is what those 2 have done is not a solution to anything going forward.

  5. Comments like this just show that the Sunil, Garber, Kathy crowd from SUM/MLS still don’t get it. They don’t get it because they only see the business side of things which is working great for SUM but the soccer side of things for USSF and our NTs is not improving commensurately with the money side of things. I think we as fans would be less vocal and upset if we had seen improvement over the last 5-10 years on the soccer side of the equation.

    Between Sunil(Pres of USSF), Garber(MLS commish, CEO SUM) and Kathy(Pres of SUM) arguably the three most powerful people within the US Soccer pyramid who has actually played professional soccer. Not a single one. Kathy played some keeper in NCAA back in the 80s hardly the experience needed to understand the soccer decisions that need to be made. And none of these people have the soccer related experience to properly qualify and screen candidates for positions such as technical director or NT managers.

    We need a soccer person at the helm of USSF who then hires the business people to work for USSF not the other way around. Right now we have business people hiring soccer people who work for the business people and their interests, ie make more money as opposed to develop soccer within the US.

    Sunil and company don’t get this, in their twisted world they think they saved US Soccer and US Soccer would be broke and backwards still without their business acumen. Its partially true they helped get US Soccer and MLS thru some dark time but soccer has made it in the US and their is no looking back. They still don’t get it US Soccer doesn’t need their help anymore.

    • Are you saying hire soccer guy because you want Pro/Rel ( which aint happening ) and winter soccer?
      Are you saying hire soccer guy because you feel like player progress has stalled?

      IF it is the first, pretend I didn’t respond, you would be wasting my time. MLS is what it is , not changing and MLS is crushing it, which has only helped.

      IF it is the second…it is easy to say hire soccer guy and put biz around.
      It is hard to be accountable if it blows up because you put a guy that was good with his head in front of goal, or gal that could really play keeper, but really has nothing to qualify them except for that. You are not worried about that?

      • I believe our domestic league can be successful with or without Pro/Reg. I’m agnostic on the subject. There is good and bad to both but I can’t see it happening from a legal point of view anytime soon with things getting so litigious it would destroy what been built over the past 20 years domestically.

        My and a lot of other fans beef with MLS/SUM should not be about Pro/Reg and I believe that is just a distraction. My issue and the real issue is the control MLS/SUM has over the federation and its decision making in regards to soccer development within the US which is USSF mandate not promoting MLS/SUM and their business interests.

        In regards to your scenario about things blowing up on the financial side due to a soccer guy being in over his head with those decisions, we just had the opposite of the scenario actually happen to the business guys, the soccer side blew up because they didn’t understand and where over their head. There is a far larger talent pool for accountants, lawyers, and business strategists than pro soccer players, coaches and technical directors who have the skillset and vision to run a federation. One’s easier to hire the other is not.

      • Pro/rel is inevitable. Most soccer fans want it. It’s a ways off but you know what I’m looking forward to most about pro/rel? Watching you cry like a little b*tch

  6. At least he leaves the program in very good shape with a talented group of youngsters that will turn the US into a world soccer powerhouse. Have to give him credit for that.

    • Perhaps, but the Youth programs are unrealized potential. Its realizing the potential that’s the problem.

      It’s common to point fingers, like Cameron, or Arena, or Klinsmann, after a catastrophic failure like what happened in WCQ. As Gulati was the captain at the helm, it would not be unusual for him to be the object of disaffection with the current soccer federation administration, and if you are hoping to get elected, then feeding that dissatisfaction is just what the candidates are doing. If Gulati does not like what is happening with the tenor of the election, he is more out of touch than I expected.

      The failure to make the Olympic tournament for two cycles was a preview of what was to come in the recent WCQ. It pointed indirectly to not the players or coaches, but a systemic failure to prepare or properly diagnose the failures and take corrective actions..

  7. The top team didn’t qualify, the high age group teams are performing inconsistently and not qualifying routinely, and we have started to look more like mis-run federations like Mexico that fire two or more coaches a cycle and are a little too concerned about money and appearances versus concrete reality and player growth and home field advantage.

    Sunil, bluntly, they are grumbly because they are peeved, and at you specifically. Are we supposed to pretend we’re happy? We have too much pride to pretend.

  8. We managed to qualify for decades while increasing revenues. It is not some simple on/off switch dichotomy, poor/in or rich/out. I think wealth is irrelevant to how well the development system is run, a key factor in our downfall. Iceland prioritizes development and does it well, and so on a shoestring with a small population they have made the Euros and World Cup (I wonder what Aron Johannson thinks about his choice these days). For all our riches we just shuttered Bradenton and are doing a poor job of preparing the next generations of domestic players, and trying to patch that up with dual nationals. I think this cycle our luck finally ran out on patching holes.

    Now, I do think we are increasingly making scheduling and location decisions based on financial concerns rather than what is best for us. There money talks. I don’t think when we struggle to win away from home it helps to host every tournament all cycle. It might make less money but a better team to go have to win Copa America or Gold Cup someplace else.

    Likewise, I think particular qualifying game site choices were befuddling. They used to be real good at locating for hostile crowds, in cold weather areas, or otherwise playing for home field advantage. I think money has started to win out and so it was Panama in Florida and CR in NYC, both mixed crowds.

    I don’t think money and winning have to be at odds, but I think increasingly at the end of Gulati’s term, decisions were dictated by money. They have a lot of money for a non profit. How much is enough?

    • I don’t think touting the recent success of Iceland means anything to Aron, especially considering he played in the last WC with the USMNT. Iceland is not a perennial powerhouse by any stretch but it’s good to see the smaller countries Ike them making strides in global football for sure.

  9. I admire Gulati’s candor in admitting the mistakes fall on the top of the hierarchy. Historically, it’s rear for someone to admit the truth, let alone stepping down from position.

  10. Gulati, Altidore, Bradley, Cameron, that french one… soccer seems to attract the mentally fragile. Time to flush them out of the system.

  11. Dave, you took the words right out of my mouth. Id rather be one of the financially broke soccer federations that is the World Cup. They would have even more money if they bid out the rights of the Nat games instead of just selling it straight out to Enron..I mean SUM.

  12. “We have a lot of money in the bank” This sums up your problem. You have made a number of morally grey decisions to increase profit to a non profit organization.

    • It takes money to grow the game. Right? Let’s see how USSF decides how to invest the surplus before we take cracks at the money.
      How/where should USSF invest the surplus (the money in the bank)?

    • Morally grey decisions? How so? Bruce Arena mismanaging the team isn’t a moral shortfall. It’s just bad coaching and a bad decision by Sunil to hire him.

      • Morally Grey
        Anything to do with the conflict of interest known as SUM
        Using the USWNT as a cash cow
        Collecting a pot of money which is supposed to flow down to the youth level
        Shafting the D2 leagues (which probably goes back to SUM.

        The debacle of the USNT falls at Gulati’s feet (and falling on his sword was the right thing to do) but our problems there are not moral issues but hubris. His picks as coaches were flawed, but not braindead. His coaches screwed up. We did not realize that MLS is making Concacaaf better faster than it makes the USNT better. We “prepared like no other game” prior to must win Panama, and relaxed for T&T. We keep putting our best 11 on the field rather than our best team. etc.

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