CHICAGO (AP) The new general managers of the men’s and women’s national teams will report to U.S. Soccer Federation chief executive officer Dan Flynn and not new USSF president Carlos Cordeiro.
The new positions were approved by the USSF board of directors in December and Flynn said understanding of the U.S. leagues in a key attribute for candidates. The new men’s GM likely will be hired first and will head the search for a new men’s coach to replace Bruce Arena, who quit in October after the Americans failed to qualify for the World Cup.
Flynn is on the search committee that will recommend the candidates for the new roles to the USSF board. He is joined on the committee by USSF board members Carlos Bocanegra and Angela Hucles, chief operating officer Jay Berhalter, director of sporting development Ryan Mooney and sport development programs director Nico Romeijn.
“The main responsibilities will include hiring and firing of the senior national team head coaches, overall responsibility for the technical side of the senior team, build a strong, integrated national team staff and management of the day-to-day environment, and monitor of the player pool and integration of new players,” Flynn said.
The U.S. could consider coach candidates from among people working on national teams for this year’s World Cup.
“I don’t think that’s going to hinder us in any way in terms of identifying candidates and speaking to candidates,” he said. “The timing of the hire could be impacted by that.”
Cordeiro was elected Feb. 10 after Sunil Gulati decided not to seek a fourth four-year term.
NASL denied injunction to obtain temporary Division II status
The latest gut punch to a league hanging on by a thread was thrown on Friday when the North American Soccer League (NASL) was denied its injunction to obtain temporary Division II status.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit was in charge of bestowing the decision, which went in favor of the U.S. Soccer Federation — who had previously lifted NASL’s Division II standing for not meeting several criteria set forth by the U.S. Soccer Federation Board of Directors.
NASL and USL had previously been granted temporary Division II status, including prior to the 2017 season, however, USL is the only league currently operating under Division II sanctions heading into the 2018 campaign.
The latest decision from the Court of Appeals doesn’t affect the antitrust lawsuit currently ongoing being NASL and USSF, which was filed in 2017.
NASL is seeking to be reinstated by U.S. Soccer to be recognized with Division II priority, after allegedly being wrongfully stripped of its status. The lawsuit also alludes to a conspiracy that USSF is working in conjunction with Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing (SUM) in order to drive NASL out of operation.
As NASL is currently constructed, just six teams remain intact in the league, although Miami FC and Jacksonville Armada have pursued other opportunities while NASL awaits its future.
The New York Cosmos, Puerto Rico FC and expansion sides 1904 FC and California United FC round out the field of clubs that remain.
The league lost several of its clubs in the last 12 months due to a variety of reasons, including Indy Eleven and North Carolina FC (both of whom have entered USL) and defending NASL champions San Francisco Deltas (club folded).
There was a solid mix of outrage and displeasure in Saturday’s U.S. Soccer presidential election outcome, and one of the candidates that came out on the losing side of things was “very disappointed” in the Athletes Council, which helped steer the eventual winner to victory.
Carlos Cordeiro was named the successor to current president Sunil Gulati after receiving over 68 percent of the final round votes, beating out Kathy Carter and Kyle Martino — who each finished with 10.6 percent of the vote.
The Athletes Council tallied up exactly 20 percent of the overall votes during the final voting process, all of which were allocated to Cordeiro.
Former U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeper and fellow candidate Hope Solo believes the Athletes Council “cracked under pressure.”
“I’m not surprised because [the Athlete Council], under a lot of pressure, and I’ve seen athletes time and time and time again crack under pressure, crack under fear, start to behave in a way that is very much a group thinking mindset,” Solo said on Saturday following the USSF presidential decision.
“And right now in this day and age, we need individuals, we need leaders that know how to unite people, but we still have to remember to think for ourselves as individuals.
“And with the bloc vote from the Athlete Council, it was very disheartening because they represent different people, different cultures, different strengths, different weaknesses. And they don’t all have to think alike.”
Solo acquired slightly over one percent of the final round voting.
PST is vetting the candidates to succeed Sunil Gulati as president of the United States Soccer Federation.
This post speaks with Steve Gans — a partner at Prince Lobel Tye LLP in Boston, Mass. with extensive experience in soccer administration and representation, including helping organize Boston’s efforts to be a host city at the 1994 World Cup — about his candidacy. His website is stevegans2018.com.
Pro Soccer Talk: Hello, Steve. It’s been a long campaign for you. How do you think it’s gone so far as we head to the big election on Saturday?
Steve Gans: “It’s gone really well for us. It’s been crazy because I was the first one in, I challenged Sunil last May, I announced my intention (to run) and all through the summer and last fall it looked like it would just be me and him, and then the U.S. failure to qualify (for the 2018 World Cup) happened in October, and the fallout from that has been meteoric. Sunil (Gulati is) not running and seven other people jumped in. The last few months have been crazy, messy and chaotic but it’s been good for us. We’re in really good shape and we’re really excited heading into this weekend.”
PST: Ultimately, if elected, what are the three main objectives you’d like to achieve as U.S. Soccer president?
SG: “First of all, we have to fix the problems that are ailing the game throughout – from youth to adult to national team to pro as well. One of the big themes that I hear, I’ve been on this listening tour since May, is lack of respect and lack of voice, so I want to get voice back and show that respect, because there’s so many great people in the trenches that have great experience and information that should be included and haven’t been.
“I want to solve the fractured youth landscape, put joy back in the game, we’re creating players without joy, stop the infighting between sanctioning organizations which affects both youth and adult soccer but contributes to the 75 percent attrition rate at U-13, and we need to solve that, that’s not in the best interest for the good of the game or the kid or adult players.
And we want to make us respected throughout the world. We want to improve our youth systems and our national team programs. I do a lot of international work in the Premier League and I represent Celtic FC, and what I know is we’re respected for certain reasons, but the wrong reasons.
“We’re respected for things like fan engagement, front office practices, those sorts of things, digital media. We’re not respected as a soccer nation and we need to fix those things so that we’re respected for our youth system, our development program, our national teams. I want to make us a fully and highly respected soccer nation internationally.”
PST: How much have you learned about who makes up U.S. Soccer’s delegates and constituency?
SG: “What I think is great is this is truly a national election. I’ve never run for anything (before) and I think with a national election, the country’s divided right now politically but what I find so uplifting in this regard, people who might otherwise be divided politically, the people I’ve met are all soccer people, so we all have common ground.
“The other part is I’ve been involved in the sport for 40 years, if you go back to the time I was a teenager, and there weren’t that many competent people involved in the sport, because it was kind of an outcast sport in the 1970s and early 1980s. It’s not true anymore. I’ve met so many people throughout the game who volunteer or are in the game otherwise, and they are so highly competent and they care so much for the good of the game. I’ve learned so much about that and that creates for me a tremendous amount of optimism in this regard, that we can solve these problems, because there’s so many good minds out there that want to help.
“I’ve also learned the fed hasn’t been doing things the right way because so many people feel disrespected.”
PST: Finally, what are your expectations for the election?
SG: “We think we’re in really great shape. I don’t have the money, there are four candidates who are indep financed, but what we do have is the best campaign team. I have been fortunate to have highly experienced people volunteering for me since last May. They’re incredible. I have a Harvard statistics expert doing my modeling and we think we’re in very great shape. We start out very solidly but this will be a multi-ballot race, but the (recent ESPN) article quite rightly tests out that I’m the one who doesn’t have any negatives.
“I may not be the celebrity candidate but people don’t look at me having any negative qualities. In a multi-ballot race, that favors a candidate like that every succeeding ballot because that candidate becomes acceptable and a consensus candidate. Our candidate sees us starting strongly and picking up a big amount of steam every round. We feel really good about this. Our numbers are good and the enthusiasm of delegates is good.”
U.S. Soccer presidential candidate Q&A: Kyle Martino
PST is vetting the candidates to succeed Sunil Gulati as president of the United States Soccer Federation. This post speaks with Kyle Martino — the broadcaster and former MLS midfielder — about his candidacy. His website is Everyonesgameusa.com.
As U.S. Soccer enters arguably its most critical juncture in recent history, Kyle Martino aims to become the voice of the American soccer community, while implementing several new measures to enhance the game nationwide.
For years, promotion and relegation has divided those within the U.S. soccer landscape, from MLS executives all the way down to supporters of the league and other leagues. However, Martino is not only candid about the conversation — but also insistent on the fact that others begin to have rational discussions about it as well.
The 36-year-old — who has seen first-hand the benefits of pro/rel in countries like England — believes the topic of conversation is one that needs to be had and will only enhance the growth of soccer in the United States.
His Progress Plan, which was released to provide more detail regarding his platform ahead of this month’s election, dives further into the topic of pro/rel. That includes a plan to implement the system into the U.S. Soccer landscape on a trial basis as early as 2024, which Martino notes would likely begin with USL and NASL.
“For me it’s pretty surprising that such a compelling, competitive argument cannot be discussed unemotionally,” Martino told Pro Soccer Talk. “The game has grown in soccer cultures around the world and I think it’s important to do two things: first, why it isn’t possible to do it here and understand with our unique landscape, one that has seen a professional league collapse in our lifetime, how we can make soccer the best it can be. It’s important to see why these decisions in the past have affected things and how our current structure has seen a growth in our first division.
“I think we need to have the discussion about ‘is there a better way?’ And to me, I think there is a better way, where there’s a merit-based soccer landscape that accomplishes two things. You are going to be able to reach different markets that normally would go untapped with expansion in the first division. Overnight we’re not going to spend per team what the Premier League spends or La Liga spends or Bundesliga spends.
“The way you get people excited. The way you grow the soccer culture here is through affinity. Affinity happens locally. When I grow up, there was no professional league for many years, and then I celebrated teams like the Bridgeport Italians and the Brooklyn Italians, which were amateur teams in my neighborhood. I know millions of fans are supporting their local teams as well, and want to believe that there is a possible move upward in mobility for their club.
“I think it’s integral that the people that have helped grow Major League Soccer throughout its expansion are willing to come to the table and have mature conversations about the merit of promotion/relegation.”
In a time where the North American Soccer League (NASL) is still involved in a fierce legal struggle against the U.S. Soccer Federation, the potential implementation of pro/rel seems like an eternity away given the uncertainty of NASL.
With U.S. Soccer having denied Division 2 sanctioning in 2017 — which sparked the NASL’s legal measures — the league’s status is far from assured moving forward. Teams like Indy Eleven and more recently, Miami FC and the Jacksonville Armada, have sought refuge in other leagues to preserve their ability to continue playing.
Martino remains confident though that NASL will be able to coexist with its adversaries in the future. It’s simply a matter of having the right people in place to continue a very complex, and at times, heated conversation.
“The most important thing is finding out whether everyone is capable of getting back to the table to have these discussions,” Martino said. “Then you need to have a plan. I’m the only one with a vision moving forward in terms of a substantive resolution and how I’m going to lead.
“Pro/rel is a part of that plan. It’s a part of my plan. I know that this topic is one that a lot of people want to see happen sooner than I have planned, but what I have to say to that is ‘please come up with a better strategy.’ That has been what’s so frustrating about this topic though, is that it’s such an important one.
“I hear a lot of people screaming, and I feel like if they’re willing to put down their pitchforks and instead pick up a pen that we could be having a much more substantial conversation. We need many good ideas, which should range from doing it tomorrow to doing it across the U.S. Soccer landscape by 2030.”
That 2030 estimated timeline proposed by Martino may seem like an eternity away, but by that point, the United States could potentially have hosted its second World Cup in the nation’s history. At least, that’s the plan.
The U.S., in conjunction with Mexico and Canada, have been preparing its United bid to bring the World Cup back to North America in 2026 on the heels of the U.S. Men’s National Team missing out on the biggest global soccer competition for the first time in over 30 years.
To this point, only Morocco is poised to challenge the United bid for the right to host in eight years’ time.
While political turmoil has raised questions about the U.S.’ ability to host the competition, Martino is not only confident about the bid the bring the World Cup back to the U.S., but also believes the joint-bid exemplifies what has made this nation so great for so long.
“I think that our bid is representative about what makes our country so great,” Martino told PST. “When leadership makes comments that disappoints us you know that it’s not what our country represents. This country is about opportunity and how beautifully multi-cultural it is.
“Sharing the opportunity to host the greatest sports tournament in the world with our neighbors in Canada and Mexico — that United bid — is a message that rises above comments that could be made in Congress.
“Obviously we are uniquely-positioned because the tournament looks like it will be expanded and bigger by the time 2026 comes around, but we could host the World Cup tomorrow if we wanted to. The infrastructure that we have in this country is amazing, and Mexico and Canada share a lot of those capabilities.
“We still, to this date, have the highest-attended World Cup back in 1994. A World Cup is obviously an economic boost and puts a spotlight on a nation — or in this case three nations — for a summer, but it has a ripple effect across the global sports landscape. A tournament in the U.S. in 2026 would create a windfall of revenue that could be reinvested in the game all over the world, which is really what this sport is all about.”
Martino’s confidence in his platform and ability to evoke change has driven him to a point where he believes he can fully challenge for the seat of U.S. Soccer president.
From discussions with youth clubs nationwide to some of Major League Soccer’s biggest stars (which include endorsements from players like Dax McCarty and Sacha Kljestan), the former player believes it’s very possible that he will be the one to steer American soccer down the right path.