We are now days away from the end of Sunil Gulati’s tenure as U.S. Soccer Federation president. This Saturday is the election and everybody has the same thought heading in: who is going to win?
There really is no favorite at this point, and almost everybody is on a similar level. All of the candidates share similar opinions on most of the big topics, and the race could not be tighter. However, Paul Caligiuri and Hope Solo are at the bottom. Solo was a late, surprise entry to the race. She stands mainly for equality and equal pay for women. Caligiuri has a small chance simply because of his history in the game, but he is not the only big-name candidate so it doesn’t carry too much weight.
Michael Winograd is seen as an outsider, but the fact that he was one of the four candidates that the Athlete Council is speaking with boosts his profile some. The 20-member Athlete Council gets 20% of the vote and will most likely come to an agreement together on one candidate.
I think that their 20% will go to Kyle Martino. He is a former USMNT player and MLS veteran who stands for transparency, equality, and progress. His work as an NBC analyst makes him a powerful public figure and his Progress Plan is one of the most in-depth plans of any candidate.
Two other members who have good — if not the best — chances of winning are Kathy Carter and Carlos Cordeiro. Carter, the current president of Soccer United Management, is likely to get most, if not all, of MLS’s 14.5% of the vote. There are whispered rumors that Gulati and MLS Commissioner Don Garber are backing Carter. If Carter can convince the Athlete Council to vote for her, then she will probably all but lock it up.
Cordeiro is the current USSF vice president, but he differs from Gulati on many points, even stating: “We can’t have more of the same. I think when we talk about change, ultimately, we need to ensure that we have very open, inclusive, transparent leadership.”
This helps Cordeiro as he has the experience working in U.S. Soccer and he has personal connections. He is arguably the best business-oriented candidate and has stated that he will hire a technical director so that he can focus on what he knows best.
Martino, Cordeiro, and Carter are probably the top three candidates, and the winner will most likely come from that group, but Eric Wynalda and Steve Gans are trailing close behind. Wynalda was assumed to be in the top group but since he got left out of the Athlete Council’s final interview, his chances have dropped some. Wynalda is the best public speaker out of the eight candidates and he will get a portion of the youth and adult councils, which keeps him near the top, but ultimately he’ll probably come up short.
Back in September I said that Gans needs to win the election, but that opinion has since changed. While Gans — the only candidate to run before the USMNT’s loss to Trinidad — has the ability to make a good president, I do not think he will have the support.
The election will come down to the Athlete Council’s vote. Much of the other 60% will be mostly evenly spread out and the 20% from the athletes will push any candidate over the top. That being said, I think Martino will be the next USSF president. He will get the vote from his peers, a solid portion of the state associations, and the NWSL. Carter will be a closer runner-up but ultimately will not have the support from the players.
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