There was a time where it looked like Soccer United Marketing president Kathy Carter was on track to become the next U.S. Soccer Federation president, however, she will be seeking a new challenge starting soon.
On Monday, Major League Soccer released an announcement stating that Carter will no longer serve in her current capacity as SUM president, a position she has held since 2010.
Carter’s attentions had been taken elsewhere recently, as she was one of eight candidates that were named on the USSF presidential ballot in March. Current president Carlos Cordeiro ultimately won the election, though, succeeding Sunil Gulati.
“My time with Soccer United Marketing and Major League Soccer has been deeply meaningful – building and expanding the game has been my profession and my passion,” said Carter. “I’m grateful for the life-long friendships I’ve made and the support I’ve received from the Commissioner, MLS Business Ventures President Gary Stevenson and all of my colleagues at the league, and look forward to seeing MLS continue its incredible growth. I will remain a huge supporter of MLS and U.S. Soccer and will be cheering loudly from the stands for our clubs and players.”
MLS commissioner and SUM CEO Don Garber also chimed in on Carter’s departure.
“I would like to thank Kathy on behalf of our owners, clubs and staff for the significant contributions she has made to the sport of soccer in the U.S. and Canada while at SUM and MLS,” said Garber. “Kathy played a critical role in the development of our league and the growth of soccer in North America for many years. Her energy, leadership and strong relationships helped establish SUM as one of the leading commercial soccer companies in the world. We wish her the best of luck in the next chapter in her career.”
PST is vetting the candidates to succeed Sunil Gulati as president of the United States Soccer Federation. This post speaks with Eric Wynalda, the broadcaster, coach, and fourth-leading scorer in USMNT history, about his candidacy. His web site is EricWynalda.org.
Sharp, candid, and clearly passionate about the game, Eric Wynalda will slip into a very serious state when he’s striking a particular chord that means a lot to his vision for U.S. Soccer.
While Wynalda is confident he’s the right person to fix what ails the federation, he seems just as concerned about the wrong person not getting the gig when American soccer is at its most vulnerable. It’s not paranoia, but he’s engrossed in the notion.
“(Change) certainly has become a buzzword,” Wynalda told ProSoccerTalk on Tuesday. “I don’t get offended but I certainly don’t appreciate it when certain people who are engaging these conversations start talking about how they’re going to make the soccer better.
“It’s not possible for them to execute what they’re talking about from their inability to understand what exactly soccer is. My biggest problem, I guess, with all of this is we have engaged the business of soccer. We’ve turned it into an industry. In order to understand the soccer business, you need to be a soccer mind. That’s the best way I can represent what I’m bringing to the table.”
Wynalda spoke of fixing “four or five” key parts of the federation, with functional youth soccer as a bedrock. From a broadcaster standpoint, he thinks the USSF isn’t getting a good enough deal on their properties, naming its deal with Soccer United Marketing as an example. In some cases, he says the policies and agreements were “inappropriate.” In others, they are “appalling” to him.
He worries about business being a bigger guide to the administration than soccer, and how it affects the youth game. When asked about Hope Solo’s assertion that her candidacy has shown her that the USSF is actually in far worse shape than she suspected, Wynalda takes a long pause to consider whether he agrees with her.
“Certain parts of this are a lot worse than I thought,” Wynalda said. “The fragmentation of the youth organizations is pretty bad and it does have its direct effect on our kids and our families. To look at it and say, ‘Wow that’s messed up’ is one thing but to go through the process that we’ve all as candidates have gone through, to listen to people and try to come up with solutions, it’s a daunting endeavor.
“The best part about it is I really feel that myself and my team, in the 501 space, or the marketing space, or the soccer people … it was really cool to dive into the bylaws, the problems, and start coming up with real solutions.”
And while he let loose with a few buzzy quotes fit for the hits and SEO that drives media, Wynalda says he’s most concerned with the soccer stuff: sorting out the youth side, the professional angle, and getting the ailing USMNT and USWNT programs off the mat.
This is where Wynalda’s pistons really started to fire in a near unbreakable string of words.
“The hesitation or concern might be that the next president will do things exactly the way our old president did,” he says. “That’s a trust question for people who are going to be voting. They may have had their issues, or maybe they felt that they are somewhat disenfranchised.
“Every decision that is made has to be about the game, not the person. That’s why it’s imperative that our next president understands the game, and the importance of this sport. That’s been a concern of mine for many years. I’ve gone through this process and unfortunately recognized that I was right.
“A lot of these decisions were made in inappropriate way. It has put us down a path that isn’t impossible to change our course, but we’ve gone too far into the woods. We need to figure out a way to find the road. It might take a while.
“It might take the ability to hack down some trees and forge your own way, to be a president who’s willing to make hard decisions to get us back on track because we have gone a little bit too far down the wrong path. But at the end of the day when you make your decisions collectively with your board, you have to make it with the best interests of the game. That’s gotta be recognized by our voters right now.
“They are going to vote. And they are going to have concerns, but they need to vote for the person that they believe will always have the interest of the sport — not the business — the sport. You take care of the product, the business takes care of itself. You fail to produce a product, which is what has happened here, the business will fail.”
Wynalda seems to bristle a bit at the idea that USSF has been a business force. He says the federation’s decision not to open up its television rights for bidding has hampered the bottom line, and that awarding that asset to SUM was one of the aforementioned “appalling” qualities.
He says his 16 years in broadcasting, kickstarted at the 2002 World Cup, has led him to the perfect position to become U.S. president (“I’m not a glorified accountant,” he bites. “I understand this space better than most”).
Wynalda seems to credit many of his fellow candidates, though there’s a clear feeling that anyone linked to the current crew — Carlos Cordeiro and Kathy Carter specifically — has almost as much to answer to as to offer.
“We’ve seen corruption in the game. We’ve seen collusion in the game. I’m not saying that’s what’s going on here, but you take a look at it and say, ‘How do we make this better? And how do we engage and recreate the policies that leads us as an organization to better serve our members?'”
Wynalda believes he’s the man for the job, and whether he you like his takes or not, he talks like a man who’d walk the country to convince a single voter that his vision will work. Maybe he’s just figured out politics — that’s quite possible in a process like this — or maybe that obsession is the right way to drive the bus.
If he’s convinced enough voters to name him as the next president, that may show that what people can’t know about Wynalda, his status as a leader, is one less worry as U.S. Soccer enters the most important chapter of its story since it won World Cup hosting and kickstarted Major League Soccer some 20-plus years ago.
Hope Solo took a massive shot at the U.S. Soccer establishment on Tuesday, filing a complaint to the United States Olympic Committee that claims the United States Soccer Federation is neglecting its duties to the sport in favor of propping up Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing.
She adds that current administration’s apparent backing of ex-SUM president Kathy Carter will only continue what ails the federation.
Solo, the controversial and legendary USWNT goalkeeper running for president of the federation, claims that “USSF’s paramount concern has become protecting and nurturing the MLS, even if at the expense of other stakeholders, including those involved in professional women’s and amateur soccer.”
She says the USSF is in violation of the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, which in part allows the USOC to give organizations governing power regarding individual sports.
“The campaign has also made me acutely aware that the USSF’s conflicts of interests and other governance transgressions are so alarming that we can’t wait for the results of the Presidential election to take action.”
.@ussoccer has neglected its fundamental obligation to develop soccer in America and is in violation of the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act. Today, I asked the USOC to hold the Federation accountable https://t.co/JNYBJvWL2c
There’s plenty of controversy inside of the nominees, even respected ones. Kathy Carter works for powerful but oft-criticized Soccer United Marketing, Carlos Cordeiro was embattled leader Sunil Gulati’s vice president, and USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo has had multiple scrapes with the law including her husband’s DUI driving an unpermitted use of a U.S. Soccer vehicle.
In actuality, these are eight X-factors. Carter and Cordeiro may draw scorn for connections with the incumbent — and thus, the embarrassing World Cup qualifiying failure — but are very much their own people.
Martino and Wynalda are former USMNT players with wide-ranging takes on the game today, while Caligiuri fits that bill as well. Laywers Gans and Winograd would bring differing takes on the game as relative outsiders.
And the candidates to take over his role keep arriving.
On Tuesday the President of Soccer United Marketing (SUM), Kathy Carter, took a leave of absence from the marketing arm of Major League Soccer to announce her intention to run for USSF president.
“I’m excited to announce my candidacy for President of US Soccer,” Carter said. “Soccer can, and should, become the leading sport in America, and I intend to make that vision a reality. Thrilled for you to get to know me and my vision for the game.”
Carter is the eighth candidate to announce their intention to run and the first female candidate. She joins former USMNT players Paul Caliguiri, Kyle Martino and Eric Wynalda, plus USSF vice-president Carlos Cordeiro and Steve Gans, Paul LaPointe and Michael Winograd.
The eight candidates have until Dec. 12 (next Monday) to reveal they have received at least three nominations for their candidacy from current board members, with Carter confirming she has yet to receive the three nominations.
Carter has worked closely with outgoing president Gulati (who has been in charge of USSF since 2006) as the head of SUM and she is a former vice president of MLS, as well as having 25 years of experience in brokering deals at the top level of American soccer after being on the 1994 World Cup organizing committee. She has also been involved in organizing multiple Women’s World Cup tournaments and is a huge advocate of the USWNT.
To many, Carter represents the establishment and would be a status quo option. It seems that those who want wholesale changes following the hugely successful financial era of Gulati — albeit an era coupled with a lack of success on the pitch for the USMNT — will not get it from her.
In her vision she states that she will “lead the Federation with the goal of making soccer the leading sport in America” and will strive to find “new people, ideas, and perspectives that are required to reach new levels of sporting and commercial success.”
Due to her close ties with USSF and business acumen, many believe that Carter will receive plenty of support from those who would’ve voted for the beleaguered current USSF president. Believe it or not, Gulati would have been the favorite to win the election had he run, despite being criticized heavily following the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Gulati will now focus on heading up the 2026 World Cup bid committee and his role on the FIFA Council, while the race to replace him as the head of U.S. Soccer heats up.