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U.S. Soccer Election: SBI Staff Picks

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.

Comments

  1. I to say I’m very disappointed with the result. Wynalda dnd Martino were/are politically very naive. There only chance was to align with Carter and have greater input into change. Now they are essentially excluded and soccer is less for it.

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  2. I don’t understand Mr. Hojnacki choice. I don’t think Mr. ” angry” Eric Wynalda has even a high scholll diploma , barely can even read the news on Fox Sport channel and ” Germany experience? Wow at that time ” angry” Eric didn’t speak the language let alone understand the structure of the German soccer/football Federation. The only thing I can see in his choice is Mr Riccardo Silva money,, correct me If I’m wrog

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  3. So, Ives is no l9nger even considered part of the staff to provide a pick? He wrote at new years that he would start to have more presence on the site. He should definitely have been part of this post.

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  4. I agree with Ryan’s reasoning if not his choice. This is a business/political position for sure. Putting an ex-player in there with no business experience is just going to make things worse. I think what we all can agree is missing in the USSF setup is a Technical director/general manager type of position to hire the managers and oversee youth development. And the word out of the Board is that they finally understand that, and seem ready to hire one. That position, not the president, is what will go further to help all the things that us fans are frustrated about.

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  5. I come at this from a different perspective. I am a scientist at a big laboratory. As such, I am quite confident saying that in general scientists make lousy managers. Some do well, but most rise to a management level because they are good at science, not management. That has been recognized and slowly people are beginning to pay attention to the fact that being a great scientist does not necessarily mean someone will be even average as a manager.

    I think it would be a step back to take someone who is good at soccer, but has no or little experience at management to be put in charge of what is really an management and business position. Just like good science managers take advice from scientists on which science to pursue and which not, good soccer management should take advice from soccer players and coaches when making soccer decisions.

    I shouldn’t have to remind people of the checkered history Alexi Lalas has had in soccer management despite at least decent knowledge and experience in soccer as a player. That is not to say that Martino would be equally as faulted (but Wynalda might and Solo would likely be worse.)

    But I don’t know enough about management to make a reasonable choice other than not Solo and not Wynalda.

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  6. I like to see what other similar organizations do for comparison. For the UK, their chair is a businessman and their set up seems to be very similar to USSF and their chair seems to be the Gulati type. For many years the head of the FA, in fact, was a member of the aristocracy. In Germany, the chair of their football association was a member of their parliament for 14 years. For one term he was deputy chairman for the Sports Committee in that body. Before that he was a journalist, so he is more politician than either businessman or sportsman.

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