With 68.6% of the vote, Carlos Cordeiro has been elected the new president of the United States Soccer Federation in a record attendance at the 102nd National Council Meeting at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld.
“Obviously, it’s a true honor to be here and occupying this seat. I’m very, very excited for what I’m looking out at — a huge numbers of opportunities,” Cordeiro said. “Maybe I’ll start by thanking the seven other candidates. This was a very spirited campaign, lots of good issues were surfaced. The membership was more engaged than in any time in contemporary history.
“I think we are at an inflection point in soccer history in this country. I think we have an opportunity to really transform it into a number one sport — there’s a reason why millennials really identify with soccer.”
One of the hot topics coming into the election was the number of candidates. Questions were asked if it was too many and if that would take away from the two favorites — Kathy Carter and Cordeiro — but, despite losing, Hope Solo thought the exact opposite.
“At the end of the day it was a good thing to have eight candidates in the race,” Solo said. “Many people thought that perhaps it would pull votes in different directions but I think what you saw throughout the last couple of weeks is people get educated and all we can do now is have a wake-up call.”
In his speech before the voting began, the former vice president tried to adhere to the change movement. “We are all here for the same reason and we need to come together. U.S. soccer needs to change.” Cordeiro also said that the U.S. Soccer budget needs to increase so that it matches that of the biggest soccer countries in the world.
The most important thing is for everyone to come together, but he also said that it is vital that the U.S. wins the bid for the World Cup. As for the World Cup bid, Sunil Gulati talked before the voting about it, saying that we need to be unified to win it. According to Gulati, the only reason why the World Cup should not go to North America is because of the perceptions of the country, naming political reasons. He cited issues such as trouble obtaining visas and the wall, but Cordeiro was confident that the joint North American bid will win it.
“Our priority as a federation is securing the World Cup in 2026,” the new president said. “We start with a meeting on Tuesday morning with Canada and Mexico and we will be planning out the remaining 120 days of that campaign.”
Eric Wynalda, who spoke before Cordeiro, said much of the same. He said that we “need to stop fighting with each other and fight together [in order to become a] soccer nation. We all want the same thing. We only have a future if we do it together.” Wynalda and Paul Caligiuri were the only candidates who did not speak to media after the election.
Cordeiro also talked about the need for the country to become more inclusive and said he will work on creating a soccer country that has equal treatment between the men and women, as well as improving the grassroots program.
When the vote started there was complete silence. Then, after a few seconds, a murmur went out among the crowd as there was some difficulty with the voting. Voters placed their votes but their keypads still told them to place their vote. Before the first round of voting was finished there had to be a reset because only 411 of the 507 votes were in. To some boos, a second voting for the first ballot took place and there was no winner.
Carter and Cordeiro led with 35% and 36%, respectively. Getting less than one percent of the votes, Caligiuri dropped out after the first round. After the first round of voting, most of the candidates were surprised at how it was going.
After the second round of voting it was the same story. Carter and Cordeiro led, with Cordeiro gaining up to 42% of the votes. Michael Winograd dropped out of the race after he failed to receive a single vote in the second round, and Steve Gans also dropped out.
The third round of voting was all it took and Cordeiro became the new president with almost 69% of the vote.
“There’s a valid victor,” said Gans after the election. “We were a little surprised at how it went but those are the numbers.” He added that he was disappointed that the Athlete Council threw all its support as a bloc to Cordeiro.
Following the election was “For the Good of the Game,” where anybody could come up and take the mic. What then came was many thanks to Gulati for everything that he has done. While it was certainly Gulati’s time to leave, he has done a tremendous job in his work as president. The United States women’s team is the best in the world, MLS has grown, the NWSL is stable, a World Cup is about to (hopefully) come to the U.S. and soccer in this country has grown since he took office. There were also plenty of wishes of congratulations to the new president and good luck wishes to him.
“The tough thing about politics is that the unthinkable can happen,” Kyle Martino said. “What we wanted was unity and, even if the vote wasn’t what people were hoping for, we saw a lot of unity.”
All of the losing candidates were disappointed that they did not win, but reactions differed from each candidate. Solo was upset with the process but not surprised by the results. She called out members of the Athlete Council for voting as a bloc and called Brad Guzan and Jonathan Spector out by name for not showing up at all (both had preseason games with their MLS teams today). In total, 12 of the 20 members were present.
“I’m not surprised. I knew it was going to be very difficult to overthrow the establishment,” Solo said. “We’re here to stay. Obviously I filed the complaint and that’s not going away any time soon. With Carlos at the helm, he knows we have a very serious complaint and it could go all the way to federal courts.
“I am very disappointed in the Athlete’s Council. I think all of us are, especially Paul Caligiuri, who sat on the Athlete’s Council. But I’m not surprised because they’re under pressure and some athletes time and time and time again crack under pressure. With the bloc vote from the Athlete Council it was very disheartening.”
Stu Holden defended the athletes, though. He said all the candidates engaged in conversation last night either in person or on a conference call. Holden also said that the athletes only had three candidates that they were seriously looking at. Although he wouldn’t say who the three candidates were, he did say that the candidates that he personally liked best were Carter, Martino, and Cordeiro.
“I think that it was more important than ever to show that as an Athletes Council we were united. It just felt that at this moment in time that Carlos was the most qualified across the board,” said Holden. “This is the largest turnout that the athletes ever had. I see that Brad Guzan and Jonathan Spector are catching some flak; both of them had commitments to their club and can’t dictate to their employer when they are available.”
Spector was busy helping Orlando City to a 4-1 win against Minnesota United.
Carter was upset she did not win but was happy overall with the result. She said “the game won today” and is looking forward to all the positive changes that are about to take place.
“We are going to get behind Carlos as our next president and I think our game is going to evolve,” said Carter. “[Cordeiro] is going to be great for the game and I think we have to put soccer back and make U.S. soccer even better.”
While there are many questions following the election, one that needs to be addressed rather quickly is who will be the next vice president, as a VP must be in position by the next National Council Meeting. Many candidates were asked if they would be interested in the position but only one sees it as an option.
“I enjoyed this. I got involved to help make U.S. soccer better. I think this election brought to light a lot of the issues,” said Winograd. “I hope to be involved going forward, to continue to make this game better. I’m not declaring for the VP race [yet], we’ll have to see how things shake out, but I would definitely like to be involved.”