Since the day the U.S. Men’s National Team lost to Trinidad & Tobago, there’s been one question on everyone’s mind: Now what? How does a program and a federation that, by all measures, failed in 2018 move on? What needs to change?
On Saturday, the process of change begins with the election of a new U.S. Soccer president.
For several months, candidates have voiced their opinions, offered their criticism, and built their platforms ahead of Saturday’s election, but it’s now time to actually decide. Delegates will convene in Orlando over the weekend to determine the future of U.S. Soccer as a new leader will take charge of the federation.
On Thursday, SBI broke down each candidate and their platforms while readers made their opinions known as well. In total, 42 percent of SBI’s readers voted for Kyle Martino, while Eric Wynalda’s 31 percent came close second.
Now, it’s time for the SBI staff to have their say on who they would vote for in the U.S. Soccer election:
RYAN TOLMICH, MANAGING EDITOR
No matter what your position is, it’s easy to see that U.S. Soccer needs change. That part is pretty clear, and all eight candidates have advocated for some sort of change on some level. The thing to remember is that change cannot all come with one fell swoop of an election, no matter how much you want it to.
At the end of the day, the role of U.S. Soccer president is, in fact, a business-related role, even if the most recent regime became a bit too involved in the sporting side. The job needs to be thought of like the CEO of a company or as a president of a soccer team. You wouldn’t hire a great player or a great head coach to run an entire organization, and expecting a candidate without a strong business background to succeed as president would be naive.
It’s easy to have reservations about Kathy Carter and her role as the status quo candidate, but there are fewer concerns with Carlos Cordeiro. He’s a candidate that has had significant experience on the business side, and he’s also a candidate that knows that he isn’t cut out to run the sporting side. Let Cordeiro handle the dollars and cents while creating a new position for the sporting side. That sporting role would be the one to institute the change needed to boost the program on the field. It’s a role more fit for the Eric Wynaldas and Kyle Martinos of the world, for candidates that understand the grassroots aspect but have little to no experience running any sort of company.
The separation of business and sporting is essential, but the U.S. Soccer president will always be a business-oriented role. Because of that fact, it should go to a business-oriented candidate that also understands that he can’t do it all. Cordeiro seems to be that guy, making him the best choice for the job.
JOE HOJNACKI, ASSISTANT EDITOR
If I could vote, I would throw my support behind Eric Wynalda. He’s the furthest thing from the status quo and that is what the USSF needs at this point in time. He has a lot of radical ideas, and although not all of them will ever come to fruition, he is the candidate most likely to bring positive reform to U.S. Soccer.
No, he won’t be able to switch to a fall to spring season, or get MLS clubs on board with promotion and relegation, but he can bring plenty of fresh ideas to a federation in need of them. He will get them focusing on growing and improving soccer once again instead of getting lost in the search for revenue.
He has seen how things work abroad, specifically in Germany, and will be able to carry over those ideas to the American game.
FRANCO PANIZO, STAFF WRITER
All the last few months have done is show us more and more that it is time for a change. The convoluted and incestuous relationship between U.S. Soccer, MLS, and SUM has misguidedly prioritized the business aspect over the sporting aspect for far too long, and that cannot continue to be the case if soccer is to reach its maximum potential in this country.
Kyle Martino has offered up some good ideas for how to shake up U.S. Soccer and explained how he plans to implement them in an articulate manner. His campaign, as stated on its website, centers around transparency, equality, and progress. He wants soccer to be everyone’s game, and that sounds like a good direction to take a federation that keeps getting pelted with accusations of playing favorites. The same federation, mind you, that some may have forgotten is a non-profit given how much boasting has been done about its current surplus.
Martino might not have experience running an organization like, say, Kathy Carter does, but we have already seen what happens when business-first people are put in charge of the program. The overall outcome is simply just not good enough. It is time for someone who prioritizes the sporting side to take the lead at U.S. Soccer, even if that person is unproven. Yes, business and dollars do matter, but not at the expense of results and development. This is a sport we are talking about, after all.