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Scott, dual Americans must top Cordeiro’s USMNT priorities

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With no national team in the World Cup and without a wild outsider laying claim to the U.S. presidential chair, many American soccer fans have let the United States men’s national team slip to the back of their minds.

And while that’s understandable, new boss Carlos Cordeiro needs his recruiters working hard in two areas: finding the top man to be U.S. technical director, and making sure the next Jonathan Gonzalez isn’t largely ignored while he decides to switch allegiances to Mexico.

[ MORE: American debuts as Chelsea tops Hull ]

He may not have a ton of convincing to do, thanks to current staffers, but there are a least a couple dozen short phone calls he should make on behalf of the men’s national team.

“Hey, I’m the new president. We’re going to hire some new soccer people and a USMNT manager, but I want you to know we know and care about you.”

LONDON: Scott holds off pressure from Evandro Goebel (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images).

Kyle Scott stands as one of three reminders just this month. The Chelsea 20-year-old center midfielder, born in Bath, represented England at U-16 level and Republic of Ireland at U-17 before switching to the U.S. for U-18 and U-20 duty.

He is, barring some unknown FIFA bylaws, another prospect who could fall between the cracks™.

Eight days ago, Bundesliga.com listed 10 young league talents who could “soon join the USA national team,” including teenagers like Bayern Munich youth Timothy Tillman, Malik Tillman, and Jalen Hawkins, as well as established players like Borussia Dortmund’s Jeremy Toljan (23).

Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep moved four Mexican-American prospects into the hopper when he wrote about three LA Galaxy prospects and NC State right back Manny Perez.

Plus: we’re all quite aware of Spurs center back Cameron Carter-Vickers.

I was critical of U.S. Soccer for implementing a number of significant measures last month in the run-up to the presidential election, things that might have been better with approval from the new president, but it’s worth noting that not a single one of these players needed to wait for a recruitment push from Tab Ramos or any number of influential people in the USSF set-up.

To be clear: playing in a German youth set-up doesn’t make a player superior to stateside prospects, and there are any number of perceived European academy washouts playing NCAA Soccer who won’t go on to sniff an MLS Draft slot, let alone a battle between Hoffenheim and Mainz.

But Bob Bradley and Jurgen Klinsmann were both very successful at convincing players, future stars and let-downs alike, to choose their American heritage. Whether Bruce Arena or Tim Howard thinks these players are American-blooded enough to succeed is irrelevant in my opinion, let the field sort that out.

But Cordeiro could go a long way toward currying favor with his new populace by finding the next Klinsmann-level super recruiter to make sure that the player pool is as deep as possible.

NWSL announces list of allocated players for this season

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CHICAGO (AP) The National Women’s Soccer League has designated 23 Americans and 11 Canadians as allocated players for the upcoming season.

The salaries of allocated players are paid by the U.S. and Canadian soccer federations. The league’s nine teams all have at least one allocated American player. Seven teams have an allocated Canadian player.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Among the newcomers on the U.S. allocated list were Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage) and Taylor Smith (Washington Spirit). New Canadians included Adriana Leon (Sky Blue FC) and Rebecca Quinn (Washington Spirit).

Those who are no longer allocated included Sydney Leroux (Orlando Pride), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride) and Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC). Morgan Brian, who is playing in France with Lyon, also wasn’t allocated. Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe was no longer on Canada’s list.

FA Cup fifth round preview, score picks

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The last 16 of the FA Cup takes place this weekend and there are plenty of big boys aiming to avoid upsets in the oldest knockout competition on the planet.

[ LIVE: Follow FA Cup scores here ]

Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are all still in the competition and all four are heavily favored to ease into the quarterfinals.

Where will the upsets be? Tottenham head to third-tier Rochdale to play on the freshly laid pitch at Spotland and we saw how they struggled at Newport in the fourth round, while Brighton host fourth-tier Coventry City who have already knocked out Stoke City on their way to the last 16.

Wigan have also beaten PL opponents on their way to the fifth round after dispatching Bournemouth and West Ham but they face a Manchester City side who are eyeing the quadruple.

Below is a look at the schedule in full, while I make my score prediction for each game.


FA Cup fifth round schedule

Friday
Leicester City vs. Sheffield United – 2:45 p.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Leicester to win 2-0)
Chelsea vs. Hull City – 3 p.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Chelsea to win 4-1)

Saturday
Sheffield Wednesday vs. Swansea City – 7:30 a.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Swansea to win 2-1)
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Coventry City – 10 a.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Coventry to win 2-1)
West Bromwich Albion vs. Southampton – 10 a.m. ET (JPW’s pick = 0-0 draw)
Huddersfield Town vs. Manchester United – 12:30 p.m. ET (JPW’s pick = 1-1 draw)

Sunday
Rochdale vs. Tottenham Hotspur – 11 a.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Tottenham to win 3-0)

Monday
Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester City – 2:55 p.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Man City to win, 3-1)

Candidates to become the USMNT’s GM

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On Wednesday our own Nick Mendola shared his thoughts on the state of play and the general feeling around the U.S. Soccer community after Carlos Cordeiro was elected as the new president of the U.S. Soccer Federation last weekend.

[ MORE: JPW talks with Carlos Cordeiro ] 

That got me thinking about one of Cordeiro’s main campaign pledges: to appoint a GM for the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams.

Focusing on the USMNT to start with because, let’s face it, they’re in a bit of a mess and a huge transition period, below is a look at six candidates who Cordeiro could turn to in order to get the USMNT back on track.

A GM will likely be tasked with hiring a new head coach, so we will get a pretty good idea on who the new coach may be depending on who lands this position.


Garth Lagerwey
The current Seattle Sounders GM and President of Soccer and former Real Salt Lake GM has already distanced himself from reports that he could take the same position with the USMNT. That said, he would be a great hire. Lagerwey’s philosophy of developing young talent saw RSL become the poster club in MLS on how to prosper from a youth academy and have a clear playing philosophy throughout the club. He would be a very smart hire, but can U.S. Soccer convince him to leave an MLS powerhouse in Seattle? That will be tough.

Carlos Bocanegra
Now, Carlos has been in his job at Atlanta United for less than a few years but you can’t argue with his results. The former USMNT captain has seamlessly transitioned into life in the front office but it certainly helps to have Arthur Blank’s money backing your decisions to entice young talent from South America and also Gerardo “Tata” Martino to become your coach. Boca appears to have a clear plan and strategy and ATL were the success story of MLS in 2017. If Bocanegra arrives as GM, would Martino follow as the head coach? That could be an intriguing double whammy for the USMNT and stack the chips in Bocanegra’s favor. Still, getting Boca and Martino to leave ATL would be very, very tough.

Nelson Rodriguez
A long-time MLS official who has worked high up in the league office and recently worked wonders to help turn around the ailing Chicago Fire in his role of Club President and GM. Rodriguez previously worked with U.S. Soccer as Managing Director of National Team Advisory Services, but in his roles across MLS he has worked closely with Don Garber and helped to develop main areas of the league. Is he a good fit for this GM role? Probably not. Rodriguez does plenty of work on the business side of things, but there could certainly be a place for him within this new national team structure for U.S. Soccer.

Earnie Stewart
Now, we all know that big things were promised when Earnie Stewart took over the Sporting Director role with the Philadelphia Union in 2016, but he’s only one man. The Union continue to have one of the best academy setups in MLS and Stewart does have one hand tied behind his back when it comes to actually bringing in star players to improve the team in Philly. He doesn’t have financial backing in the way that Bocanegra does at Atlanta United, but he does have plenty of experience in Europe to more than pad his resume. Stewart worked wonders at AZ Alkmaar and the former USMNT star would certainly seem like a good fit for this GM role given his experience domestically and internationally.

Tim Bezbatchenko
This guy has done an amazing job at Toronto FC. There’s no other way to put it. “Bez” is a young, hungry GM who has risen through the soccer ranks quickly and is highly thought of within Major League Soccer’s upper echelons where he served as Senior Director of Player Relations and Competition. Since he moved to Toronto in 2013, it’s been a long road to success for Bez and he was certainly helped out by big bucks being through at Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley. That said, the way he’s built that roster at TFC and brought everyone together at the club must be applauded. Like Lagerwey, he has a very good gig in Toronto and is on the cusp of creating a dynastic team. At the age of 36, is he ready to move on to a huge challenge with the national team?

Claudio Reyna
Been at the helm since Day One at New York City FC as the Director of Football Operations and his playing credentials as captain America speaks for itself. Reyna has been outspoken when it comes to the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and it appears he has a few ideas on how to change things at the very top. Will he be given a chance to do that considering his scathing words against the current regime? After five years with NYCFC, maybe now is a good time to move on to the next project. Reyna’s son Gio is one of the top prospects in the U.S. player pool, which is an intriguing sidenote.

Sifting through the ashes of the U.S. Soccer election

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It has now been four days since Carlos Cordeiro was elected president of the United States Soccer Federation, and he’s changed absolutely nothing and stands as a monumental failure.

Jokes aside, it’s a challenge to find the right feeling for this new era of American soccer. The response to Cordeiro’s election was entirely predictable for two significant crowds.

[ MORE: JPW talks with Carlos Cordeiro ]

First, there is the disappointment that flowed freely from the fringes of the anti-establishment group, the bunch that generally wields #ProRelForUSA as a prime solution to the question of what’s kept our 20-year-old top flight club soccer league from taking a Louisville Slugger to all of the top talents at the Bernabeu and Old Trafford and sprinkling them between San Jose, Kansas City, New York City, Wichita, Buffalo, and Ismay, Montana.

Second, there’s the group of MLS-first honks and a legion of those who either directly benefit from the league or enjoy credit for its incredible growth. Their responses are largely a combination of exhaling and castigating the masses who wished to see monumental change on the voting floor. The people had their say, and they love chanting “I believe that we will win.” They are perhaps a bit easier to identify now that they will criticize both Bruce Arena and Sunil Gulati now that they’re positive they are no longer in charge.

But Sunday’s election wasn’t just one for the extremists. It was monitored with interest from people all over our world, magnified by the fact that Arena and Gulati’s USMNT failed to qualify for the World Cup out of the most forgiving confederational set-up this side of Oceania.

[ MORE: The soccer world reacts ]

The sheer number of texts or calls I received from both big time soccer fans and casual observers was almost equal, and people were ticked off: How did the United States not learn from their failure?

I wanted to give a proper reply, and not just shoot off some vitriol that has been sitting on top of my chest for months. Part of this was because I felt Cordeiro proffered more vision and personality than Carter, who I had assumed might dance to the crown. And I didn’t say it in the run-up to the election, because I was hoping for better, and I didn’t want to say it afterwards until I was 100 percent sure it was coming from a place of honesty.

SIDE NOTE NO. 1 — Before we go any further, all of this isn’t to say that Cordeiro won’t be a weapon of positive growth who leaves soccer to soccer people — he’s said all soccer hires will be recommended to him by soccer people — keeps the business on track, opens up youth soccer so parents don’t have to downgrade their vehicle to pay a “technical director’s” salary, separates MLS and SUM from U.S. Soccer, and makes it so tiny Ismay 16 SC can have the same opportunity to grow into a soccer giant as the New York Red Bulls. He’s come to the game armed with business acumen, and he may be willing to make some unorthodox moves that require “United Passions 2: This One Doesn’t Stink Because of Carlos.”

The feeling I had all along is this: Almost every voter in that room cares deeply about soccer, but almost every voter has also risen to their current position of influence due to the current system. Many have been involved in the game since the rise of the USMNT and USWNT programs. They’ve seen the massive growth of soccer in the United States over whichever period you choose, because it’s been moving upward since the early 1990s if not earlier. The idea of an admin outsider topping two establishment candidates was a lofty one (and we should applaud everyone who went after it, especially Wynalda and Martino for currying enough favor to make fear a legitimate feeling for those in power).

[ MORE: Zidane gets it right vs. PSG ]

Largely, my gut says the voters would’ve gladly welcomed Sunil Gulati back for another term if he just owned the USMNT failure with true humility (Oddly enough, had the Yanks not qualified for Russia with Klinsmann through a second cycle, he probably would’ve been altogether safe to make his next hire, but that’s another story).

He didn’t come close to handling the situation with any sense of even PR-induced responsibility, and when a federation is in tumult a lot of perceived condescension that may’ve been overlooked as eccentric or confident during the halcyon days just looks like uppity nonsense. Whether or not the emperor is actually naked, he sure appears so.

So who were the voters going to be drawn to? The handpicked successor, by all accounts Kathy Carter, didn’t seem likely to get the job done without appealing to voters with a modicum of change-driven authenticity. The upstarts, led by Eric Wynalda and Kyle Martino, may have ultimately appeared too similar to voters as former players with broadcasting acumen (For what it’s worth, NBC affiliation aside, Martino struck me as a potential winner from Day One of his candidacy while there is no denying the immense headway won by the relentless campaigning of Wynalda).

It would’ve taken the soccer campaigning equivalent of baseball’s perfect game for Steve Gans, Michael Winograd, or Paul Caligiuri to project into the top-tier, and Hope Solo’s troubled past was likely a non-starter (despite some exceptional work on the trail).

Hindsight being 20/20, is it any surprise that a man who was described as Sunil Gulati’s protege but clearly wasn’t in lockstep with the embattled boss was enough of a chance for the voters? The first vote saw Cordeiro emerge with a slim lead of Carter, and only Cordeiro and Martino gained in both the second and third ballot.

SIDE NOTE NO. 2 — Soccer Twitter has stirred in me what amounts to an occasional but very real paranoia about the establishment, and there was a part of me that harbored the following conspiracy theory: Carter’s low profile candidacy and the stories of Don Garber and Sunil Gulati courting voters for her was simply designed to get people comfortable with the idea of Cordeiro being establishment but not the establishment’s choice (It’s worth noting that this conspiracy theory does not require Cordeiro to be in the know if you want it to be extra nutty). At the right hour of any given day, I will fight you on behalf of this conspiracy theory. Most hours, though, I just laugh and make more coffee.

[ MORE: Cordeiro’s open letter to U.S. Soccer ]

Perhaps, as some have suggested, there would’ve been a better chance of a revolution if there were only one or two rivals to Carter or Cordeiro, but I don’t believe the election would’ve carried as much water with the soccer public without the controlled chaos caused by the nine person pool (a ninth candidate, Paul Lapointe, was eliminated from contention in late December).

But as I reflect on the tumult of the fall, the candidates announcements, their campaigning, and the election, it seems like it was always going to be Cordeiro. He declared his candidacy before Gulati announced he wouldn’t run, agreed to have a soccer committee recommend all hirings, and would have the establishment’s resume without carrying its recent failures.

If any change was going to come, it was going to come with a buffer of four years (and next time, can we please have presidential and VP tickets? Don’t you want to know right away who your president wants as his or her right hand man or woman?!? What if you were choosing between Carter-Cordeiro, Martino-Winograd, Gans-Solo, and Wynalda-Caligiuri?).

And when we’re breaking down the 2022 presidential election, Cordeiro is likely going to be carrying a USMNT World Cup berth and hosting duties for the 2026 World Cup. His staff and he have to know that the failure to qualify was a managerial blip on the radar, which means how U.S. Soccer treats youth soccer, the women’s game, and club ball over the next four years is going to make the difference. That’s the closest I’ll get to cup half-full.