It’s officially been six months since U.S. Soccer elected a new president in former Vice President Carlos Cordeiro. At the time, there was a lot of vitriol being thrown around at the hiring of Cordeiro. Many considered him to be a part of the already established regime — close with Sunil Gulati and Don Garber — meaning expectations of change were not optimistic.
Cordeiro through the campaign was one of the most quiet of the eight candidates but his website did supply his platform for his goals for the organization. Ranging from everything like youth soccer to the national team, the platform reads nicely, but the question was always going to be, what would he actually accomplish?
First, six months is not a lot of time. I’ve seen some talk about how nothing has changed but I would ask if anyone could make drastic changes in six months’ time in an organization — and region — that is incredibly complex to navigate. Between the segmentation of the youth and pro games, and even within the organization itself, there are so many moving parts that it takes time for a vision to come through.
That doesn't mean nothing can or should be accomplished. It just means temper your expectations here. There have been some good moves made and some others that haven't even existed but the organization isn’t sitting still. So far, the USSF has accomplished the following:
- Won the 2026 World Cup Bid.
- Hired Earnie Stewart as the first-ever U.S. men’s general manager.
- Created additional board members and committees for specific focuses.
Those first two items were priorities No. 1 and 2 on Cordeiro’s list for very good reasons. Cordeiro has recognized what the World Cup means to this country both in growing the game and financially, and saw the first-hand backlash against the USSF for not securing 2018 or 2022. Accomplishing this alone took up a huge portion of time and therefore took Cordeiro away from some of the other issues.
But with the hiring of the men’s GM, Cordeiro came through on another promise on hiring people within the organization to focus more on the sport side, so that he can focus on the business aspects. Like it or not, U.S. Soccer fulfilling a promise is a good thing. Earnie Stewart just stepped into the GM role this month, so we’ll have to wait and see, but he has the respect of many inside and outside of the organization and we’ll see how his role shakes out because there isn't much to judge so far.
As for the board, he’s committed to a few different committees that will further help focus on different areas such as technical development (led by the athlete’s council) and a commercial committee to oversee the Soccer United Marketing (SUM) relationship. Having clear and defined committees with the right people in place will allow the organization to operate with a more dedicated purpose vs. being stretched too thin.
Everything hasn't been perfect, however. While the men have hired their GM, the women have not. There really hasn’t been any movement on it to date I could find — not even a whisper of a rumor. With World Cup qualifying coming up later this year, this is something I thought would see equal priority to the men’s side but has yet to happen.
The youth game has been largely ignored. In a recent State of the Union podcast from Alexi Lalas, former candidate Kyle Martino brought this up as the major miss so far and I agree. The youth segmentation is hurting the game and it can be seen just by the drop in participation numbers in youth soccer this year.
This was the first part of Cordeiro’s platform on the website, but has received the least amount of attention, as Tab Ramos — the U-20 men’s coach — talked about how the hiring freeze on coaches is damaging to the system. If Cordeiro wants to be seen in a new light compared to the old guard, fixing the issues in the youth system should now be one of his top priorities moving forward,
Overall I have to give Cordeiro and the USSF a B+ for the first six months. The World Cup bid is massive and the hiring of the men’s GM shows that promises are going to be kept. There’s not a whole lot that can be done in six months and for what has been accomplished I’m happy with the moves so far.
What’s key is people continuing to keep the organization accountable as we move forward in this presidency. If the youth game continues to be ignored, or GMs start flipping, or anything in the platform continues to stagnate, then the media and the constituents have to keep them accountable. If gone unchecked, then we’ll be right back to square one in four years’ time, and no one wants that.