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Sunil Gulati discusses 2026 World Cup bid, next USMNT coach


Sunil Gulati may be stepping down as the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation in February, but that doesn’t mean he will not be a major player in the sport for many years to come.

Gulati, 58, has decided to not seek re-election for a fourth four-year term as the leading man for USSF, with all of his focus now switching to the bid for the 2026 World Cup to be held in the United States of America, Mexico and Canada.

As the head of that bid team, Gulati will be a busy man between now and June 12, 2018 when that decision is voted on by FIFA’s associations around the world with Morocco the only other bid in the running to host the expanded tournament.

Speaking to Richard Conway from the BBC, the 11-year leader of USSF discussed a whole host of topics but the majority of the chat was focused on succeeding in bringing the 2026 World Cup to the USA, Mexico and Canada.

“We think we have a fantastic bid. We think we can promise more economic results than anybody else in the world could. Not just for this World Cup but for the last few and the next few. That’s primarily because of the size of the U.S., Canadian and Mexican market combined and partly because of the size of the stadiums and partly because there is no need to build any infrastructure… We are hopeful, we are optimistic but we are not guaranteed anything. Morocco has made it very clear they are going to bid aggressively and we will do the same and we will go out and try to win this election every way we can, that is within the rules.”

Gulati was then asked if FIFA really needs a World Cup in North America. His response, as a professor in economics at Columbia University who has turned the USSF into a hugely profitable organization, will not surprise you.

“Clearly the economics would be very, very positive,” Gulati added. “We’ve got the ability and will make the promise that we will have the biggest World Cup, by a wide margin, in terms of economics. There’s an easy way to show that. The ’94 World Cup, which had fewer games than every subsequent World Cup, is still the largest World Cup not only in terms of average attendance but in terms of total attendance, with fewer games. This is going to be an 80-game, 48-team World Cup. I can’t think of any place better than the U.S., along with our partners in Mexico and Canada, to take on that expanded size and that challenge for FIFA.”

Still, it wasn’t all about the 2026 World Cup.

Conway also revealed that Gulati said the U.S. men’s national team “may not appoint a new head coach until after the Russia World Cup when more candidates may be free.”

Considering he will no longer have a say in that matter, at least the overriding say as USSF president, that’s quite a big statement to make.

Anyway, what lies in store for the next six months for Gulati as he aims to rubber-stamp the join 2026 World Cup bid?

“We will be on the road a lot. We will go out and convince them. The bid is due in March, the formal bid, and there will be an inspection in April. We are not overly concerned about the inspection part of it. We think we will have a great technical bid but it’s the other pieces,” Gulati explained. “It’s the 211 members who vote, four will be excluded with the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Morocco, convincing those other 207. What I will be doing between now and June 12 is making sure that 104 of them are going to vote for the U.S. We’d like a few more, just to be sure, but it will be going out to talk to people, showing them the presentation and showing them what we can do, showing them the economics and the power of a World Cup in the United States.”

Economics is never too far from the conversation.

Peru’s World Cup foes lobby to overturn Guerrero’s ban

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Following last week’s decision handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Peru captain and talisman Paolo Guerrero has been banned from the 2018 World Cup — at the age of 34, almost certainly his last opportunity to star on the world’s biggest stage.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

However, in the days since that decision, a number of Guerrero’s fellow professionals and World Cup stars — France and Denmark captains Hugo Lloris and Simon Kjaer, and Australia’s Mile Jedinak — have written to FIFA, on behalf of FIFPro, the world player union, in hopes of rendering Guerrero eligible to pay at next month’s tournament in Russia.

“We respectfully ask the Fifa Council to show compassion,” the trio wrote. “In our view it would be plainly wrong to exclude him from what should be a pinnacle of his career.”

[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]

That Lloris, Kjaer and Jedinak are the players lobbying in favor of Guerrero is particularly notable given the fact that Peru will face France, Denmark and Australia in Group C.

Guerrero tested positive for cocaine late last year, after a tea he drank was tainted and triggered a fail drug test.

SKC, Crew SC play to 0-0 draw; VAR steals the show (again)

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): Nothing ruins a good game of soccer more than controversies involving the referee — and now that VAR is active within MLS, yet another failure of the video-review system to correct the most “clear and obvious” of wrong decisions. There is no longer any rhyme or reason in deciding whether or not to utilize what could be a very helpful tool. Check the third video further down this page to comprehend the absurdity of VAR in Sporting Kansas City’s 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew SC on Sunday. As for the actual soccer which was played, Tim Melia made one save to deny Gyasi Zardes with a point-blank header early in the first half, and a second to deny Zardes rom the penalty spot just before halftime. Despite being a back-and-forth affair between the league’s second- and third-place teams with a chance to take the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race, there were just six shots on target in total and genuine scoring chances were few and far between.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

Three moments that mattered

43′ — Zardes wins a PK, but Melia makes the save — Melia was responsible for giving away the penalty kick, and he more than made up for it by denying Zardes moments later.

45+6′ — Higuain puts studs into Espinoza, sees red — Originally not called a foul, changed to a red card following video review. On the softer side of red cards (just an opinion).

59′ — Martinez takes a swing at Sinovic, but no video review — At this point, it’s just time to disband the entire VAR experiment. It’s turned MLS into a clown show and an embarrassment. Signed, someone who was initially in favor of VAR, assuming MLS would utilize it properly.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Tim Melia

Goalscorers: None

Rayo Vallecano win promotion back to La Liga

Photo credit: Rayo Vallecano / @RayoVallecano
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MADRID (AP) Rayo Vallecano earned promotion to Spain’s top division after beating Lugo 1-0 in a second-tier league game on Sunday.

Alex Moreno’s goal for the hosts in the 40th minute sealed Rayo’s return to La Liga after two seasons away.

Huesca had already secured promotion last weekend with a 2-0 victory at Lugo.

The third team to move up will be the winner of a two-round playoff between the four teams that finish the season from third to sixth.

Malaga, Las Palmas and Deportivo La Coruna were all relegated from the top flight this season.

FOLLOW LIVE: West leaders SKC host East’s 2nd-best Crew SC

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City host Columbus Crew SC, the Eastern Conference’s second-place side, at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday with both sides capable of overtaking Atlanta United for top spot in the Supporters’ Shield race.

[ FOLLOW: SKC vs. Crew SC in top-of-the-table clash ]

Sporting KC, who are unbeaten in three straight and have lost just once since opening day (11 games), lead expansion side Los Angeles FC in the West. Meanwhile, Crew SC enter Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash unbeaten in their last six games (four wins) and trail the league leaders from Atlanta by a single point.

Hit the link above to follow along throughout the afternoon, and check back with PST for coverage after the final whistle.