Sam Borden

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Report: U.S. 2026 World Cup bid fast-tracked for this week

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ESPN’s Sam Borden says the United States is expected to make the grade as the host for the 2026 World Cup.

Borden says that South America is focused on 2030, leaving only Africa — specifically Morocco — as a confederation weighing a bid on 2026.

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Regardless of that, the politics of the situation lean toward the United States.

From ESPN:

Barring a last-minute change — which, with global sporting politics, can never be entirely ruled out — support for the bid’s proposal to fast-track the awarding of the World Cup rights appears broad. A victory would bring the world’s biggest sporting event back to the United States for the first time since 1994.

The vote is Thursday, and the United States would have to prove its worthiness by June 2018. If the U.S. is not approved Thursday, Borden writes, a more traditional vote will be held.

Gulati quizzed on Klinsmann; Report claims Arena as fallback

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Don’t lose these three Tweets in the social media hurricane that is the aftermath of the United States men’s national team’s 4-0 loss to Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying.

While most expect Jurgen Klinsmann to hang onto his job despite the 0-2 start to the Hex, the final round of World Cup qualifying for CONCACAF, reports say US Soccer may have had a fallback plan if the Yanks lost tonight.

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The Washington Post’s Steven Goff says US Soccer lined up LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena to help stop the bleeding should the Americans fall to Costa Rica, which they did in embarrassing fashion.

And Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl has a quote from Sunil Gulati which definitely leaves the future open for discussion, saying they’d talk with Klinsmann after thinking through the loss.

Finally, intrepid New York Times reporter Sam Borden said Gulati told him that the loss could’ve changed his feelings on the project, though the reporter still feels Klinsmann will stick around.

CONCACAF lays out reform plan post-scandal: “People are right to be skeptical”


Mere hour after the completion of the Women’s World Cup, CONCACAF is laying out its plans to repair its reputation.

And in further proof the news has a sense of humor, it’s going to take a man named Gandhi to help CONCACAF right its ship in the wake of the ongoing FIFA scandal.

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Sam Gandhi is the head of the legal firm advising CONCACAF in its attempts to fix its administration, one which saw many arrests in the pre-dawn raids earlier this summer and faces charges that run the gamut from bribery to racketeering.

CONCACAF released its “Reform Framework” early Monday morning, but the New York Times’ intrepid reporter Sam Borden was on the case a bit earlier in the day and spilled many relevant details.

From the New York Times:

While meaningful change will take time, the organization released what it called a framework for reform, laying out a number of proposed changes to the way it is governed. Some of the more notable ideas are the inclusion of fully independent members on the powerful executive committee, term limits for top officials and the publishing of top officers’ salaries and other compensation.

“People are right to be skeptical,” said Sam Gandhi, the head of corporate practice at the law firm Sidley Austin, which is advising Concacaf on matters including governance.

“We know we’re not asking people for a second chance; we’re asking them for a third chance,” Mr. Gandhi said. “So we get it. We’re not thumping our chests. We want people to watch what we do and judge us then.”

Gandhi’s tone hits all the right conciliatory notes, something that FIFA has been unable to do it in its response under Sepp Blatter.

It’s also worth noting that Borden claims the CONCACAF bylaws would pertain to its organization, not the individual nations, and would not necessarily affect power brokers like United States Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati. He’s been a proponent of world soccer reform for much of his 10 years in charge at the USSF, and boosted Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein in a campaign against Blatter last year.

NYT profile delves into Klinsmann’s M.O., relationships with players


Jurgen Klinsmann is directly under the microscope of many American soccer supporters ahead of this month’s World Cup, and The New York Times’ Sam Borden has a long-form profile piece on the German-born coach that delves into his personality over the course of months of interaction.

Klinsmann, who has led the States to an almost-unparalleled run of play, is depicted as a man capable of making tough decisions while alternating between warm, guiding hand and cold, heartless decision maker.

The piece paints a picture of Klinsmann and his controversial decision to remove Landon Donovan from World Cup plans, but is really more about how that decision fits into the coach’s M.O. for American soccer and the USMNT.

And let’s get this out of the way: in December, Klinsmann said the US “cannot” win this World Cup. This doesn’t mean he’s not trying to, nor that he walks around the training ground telling the team it’s useless to try.

Here’s Klinsmann’s quotes regarding his decision to let Donovan’s sabbatical from soccer extend past when the American legend deemed himself ready to return to the national team:

“This always happens in America,” Klinsmann told me, waving his hands in the air. “Kobe Bryant, for example — why does he get a two-year contract extension for $50 million? Because of what he is going to do in the next two years for the Lakers? Of course not. Of course not. He gets it because of what he has done before. It makes no sense. Why do you pay for what has already happened?”

Klinsmann then turned to Donovan.

“He came back, and he was playing in M.L.S., and people say, ‘Oh, he’s playing well,’ but what does that really mean?” Klinsmann said. “This is where M.L.S. hurts him. He was playing at 70 percent, 80 percent, and he was still dominant. That doesn’t help anyone.”

Klinsmann shook his head. “I watched the games. What was I supposed to say? That he was good? He was not good. Not then. No way. So he had to wait.”

Donovan’s situation wasn’t entirely about his skill; To Klinsmann, it seems like Donovan was a symptom of the sick for American athletes. We’ve read about his background, observing his family’s business as a baker and serving as an apprentice. He was detail-driven, focused and intense.

He wants to win every practice. He wants to win every game. He wants accountability at every moment. He wants the sort of committed, hungry, unentitled attitude that is the very opposite of what so many American pro athletes regard as their birthright.

The must-read article lays out that Klinsmann loves America and its characteristics but expects, nay, demands much from his players. And he’s not just a strict, demanding egomania (Read his experience ‘scouting’ Jozy Altidore at Sunderland earlier this year).

You may not like his role or permissions as head coach — as the article points out, neither do Bruce Arena and Steve Sampson — but you might know him a bit better (and maybe even feel better about the World Cup… this one and the next.