Let’s play the U.S. Soccer Presidential elimination game!
If those who are passionate about this sport want a transformative future then the presidential elections in February are the most important moment in the history of U.S. Soccer. Supporting the right type of candidate is essential. Based on what I think are the most important attributes for the new president we will eliminate candidates until we get down to who among the current (12.12.17) field can lead U.S. Soccer into the future.
Here is a brief summary of the current candidate’s backgrounds:
- Paul Caligiuri
- Former USMNT player
- Former Head Coach in NCAA
- Currently Technical Director of Orange County F.C.
- Kathy Carter
- President of Soccer United Marketing (SUM)
- Carlos Cordeiro
- Former Goldman Sachs executive
- Current U.S. Soccer Vice President and serves on current Board of Directors
- Steve Gans
- Boston attorney, currently partner at Prince Lobel Tye LLP, law firm focused on corporate, sports, and employment law
- Paul Lapointe
- Massachusetts regional director of United Premier Soccer League
- Kyle Martino
- Former MLS Player
- Current Television Soccer Analyst
- Hope Solo
- Former USWNT Goalkeeper
- Michael Winograd
- New York based Attorney
- Former college and professional player
- Former assistant coach at University of Richmond
- Eric Wynalda
- Former USMNT Player, Coached on several levels
- Current Television Soccer Analyst
What do you want to see US Soccer do? Better yet what do you want to see them become? I want to win a World Cup on the Men’s side. That’s it. I want the USMNT to be in the conversation around what teams might win it all every damn cycle. I don’t think that is too much to ask. On the Women’s side, I want to see equality both in pay but also in facilities and support.
What do you want most of all in a new president? I want someone who is serious about enacting real change, actual organizational and structural transformation. In order to convert a complicated, broken system, you need leadership and ideas from outside the said flawed system. This is part of “Change Theory”, and has to do with the fact that the stakeholders (people in power) typically have benefited from the way the system has been functioning and will be resistant to making any modifications because the system has been working for them very well. Confused? Read my post on Change Theory and U.S. Soccer.
Regardless, this means we need someone without ties to the old regime and we especially can’t have someone who has benefitted from the way the system is currently operating.
Kathy Carter has benefitted from the current system. She most recently worked as the president of Soccer United Marketing; this is a marketing company that controls the rights for U.S. Soccer and the Mexican national team. This is a massive conflict of interest and given that fact, she seems unlikely to be able to make huge changes to the current system.
Carlos Corderio is a former Goldman Sachs executive and current Vice-President of U.S. Soccer. He has essentially been Sunil Gulati’s number two. He has been on the board of directors since 2006. This is the classic stakeholder of the old system and in my opinion the worst candidate in the field.
Eliminated: Kathy Carter, Carlos Corderio
Still Alive: Paul Caligiuri, Steve Gans, Paul Lapointe, Kyle Martino, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd, Eric Wynalda
Deep Ties to Youth Soccer and State Associations
Youth development and coordination of the complex system that is U.S. Soccer will be essential. I have written before about Complex System Theory and how it applies to USSF. If the goal is to win a World Cup on the Men’s side, then we need a leader who for one knows the youth system, but also has knowledge of the many layers that is the U.S. Soccer pyramid and has a vision for how each league might play a role in development of players, etc.
Kyle Martino wouldn’t necessarily be a bad choice, but I am not sure if he has the deep ties to the right people needed to make the youth development system improve. I like his thoughts on the “tribal youth system” and how it fractures the landscape, but ultimately think there are other candidates better plugged into youth soccer as well as the other professional levels.
Hope Solo certainly would be different direction. But again, I don’t think she has the ties to youth and the domestic professional leagues to make change a reality.
Michael Winograd is a good choice on many fronts. First, he has played professionally and coached on many levels. He is an attorney and by all accounts a successful businessman. He is a big advocate for transparency in decision making. He also is big on getting private businesses involved to put some kind of incentives in place to fund youth soccer and coaching education. I’m not convinced this is the right direction. I think it has to come from the USSF and state federations as means to develop players.
Eliminated: Kyle Martino, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd
Still Alive: Paul Caligiuri, Steve Gans, Paul Lapointe, Eric Wynalda
Motivation, Drive, Laser Focus on the Right Issues
This is going to be a very difficult position to take and an even more uphill climb to enact real change. I want someone totally focused to this; someone with unbridled passion.
Paul Caligiuri is an icon. He has great ideas about reforming youth soccer, bringing the Development Academies, Olympic Develop Program, and other youth programs together. But according to sbnation.com he had not yet filed the necessary paperwork to apply for the position. Also, he has no website explaining his positions and is not active on social media. Maybe unfair but for me a red flag.
Paul Lapointe has a lot going for him. He is the director of United Premier Soccer League, coached on many levels, and has lots of business experience. However, he is obsessed with “media bias in soccer that tarnishes the sport”. I really don’t know what the hell he is talking about and quite frankly think there a lot of more important issues a candidate for USSF President should be talking about. He got into it with Alexi Lalas on twitter (which I also commented on): https://twitter.com/AlexiLalas/status/938467641408110593
Eliminated: Paul Caligiuri, Paul Lapointe
Still Alive: Steve Gans, Eric Wynalda
And then there were two…
Steve Gans has everything you could ask for in the next USSF President. He has played and coached in at the youth, college, and pro indoor level. He was in a front office position for the MISL Baltimore Blast. He was involved in Boston’s 1994 World Cup bid. He is highly involved in youth development serving on the Development Academy Board of Directors. He also is the founder of Professional Soccer Advisors, a consulting company that works with youth clubs. He also is line step with me on big changes need to happen.
Eric Wynalda has been on a mission. The guy has been traveling across the county meeting with state associations, former players, and stakeholders in the U.S. Soccer scene trying to get the votes needed for Presidency. He also has everything needed and maybe his passion puts him over the top. If you are at all interested in a fascinating interview with him on the Total Soccer Show click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9ulAsFrl9o
Being the pessimistic skeptic I hope (and pray) we will get to see a Gans or Wynalda Presidency. The fate of U.S. Soccer hangs in the balance.