After three rounds of voting, USSF Vice President Carlos Cordeiro defeated seven other candidates to become the new USSF president. The Athlete’s Council, with a 20 percent stake in the election, became the catalyst for Cordeiro’s win after pledging to support him in the morning of the election.
Cordeiro and SUM President Kathy Carter were going into the election as favorites but there were still many unknowns. Many assumed and were proven correct that if Carter hadn’t won after the first ballot, it would be difficult for her to win. In addition, former star players Eric Wynalda and Kyle Martino were seen as alternatives for voters who found Carter and Cordeiro as being “establishment” candidates.
After one round, it was clearly down to Cordeiro and Carter and was essentially a matter of time until Cordeiro won. After Round One, Cordeiro (36.3 percent) had a slight lead over Carter (34.6 percent) while Wynalda (13.7 percent) and Martino (8.6 percent) were far behind. Steve Gans, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd and Paul Caligiuri rounded out the order.
This signaled how important the Athlete’s Council was to Cordeiro because without them. The Council had it narrowed down to Cordeiro, Carter and Martino and if they hadn’t picked Cordeiro and picked Carter, she would have won on the first ballot. Choosing Martino would have put him at six percent behind Carter for the lead while Cordeiro would have only had 16.3 percent of the vote.
Round Two saw some more support to Cordeiro (41.8 percent) but still shy of the 50 percent plus one vote requirement. Carter dropped slightly to 33.3 percent while Wynalda and Martino both barely got to double digits. It was Round Three where even the Carter supporters realized the writing was on the wall and most switched to Cordeiro, who got 68.6 percent of the vote. Carter and Martino both had 10.6 percent with Carter having slightly more votes. Wynalda finished fourth with 8.9 percent while Solo had a very loyal 1.4 percent of the vote who stuck with her in every round. Gans, Winograd and Caligiuri had dropped out before the final round.
It didn’t really matter who was elected, the reaction to the winner was going to be negative. Even among popular candidates like Martino and Wynalda, there were detractors along with supporters. But with Cordeiro elected, it was certainly a move that was more popular among the administrator voters than the fans, who mostly viewed Cordeiro as part of the establishment that has put US Soccer in this situation in the first place.
Cordeiro’s strategy in wooing the voters was to toe that line between being an establishment candidate and reformer. Where many may have viewed Carter as “too establishment” after essentially being endorsed by Don Garber and Sunil Gulati, might have seen Cordeiro as a safer alternative who wants to make some changes but know won’t be making wholesale changes right away like some of the reformer candidates would’ve wanted to do.
Carlos Cordeiro may have been Sunil Gulati’s VP but he isn’t a carbon copy of Gulati. There are some differences to how Cordeiro says he will run US Soccer that will be different than Gulati. At the same time, Carlos Cordeiro isn’t going to be someone who I would describe as a reformer. As much as Cordeiro tried (and succeeded) in convincing voters he wasn’t an establishment candidate, is an establishment candidate. So fans who would have loved to see change are frustrated and assuming they will at least see another four years of the status quo.
So now that Cordeiro has been elected, what happens next?
Well for one thing, US Soccer needs to elect a vice president. US Soccer revealed on Twitter that a new VP will be elected. in either one of three methods. They will either leave the position vacant until next year’s meeting, create a special meeting for the election or elect someone via a mail ballot. Personally, for an organization who has had many eyes on how their money is spent, it may cost a lot to do an emergency meeting just to fill the VP spot. Waiting until the next meeting or a mail-in ballot might be the most financially prudent methods to take.
But the first thing that will happen is hiring the newly created general manager position for the US Men’s National Team. This position was created before the election but Cordeiro supported this idea. Cordeiro made no secret that a weakness of his would be making on-field personnel decisions like naming a new manager or technical director. By hiring a general manager, Cordeiro could delegate the things he may not be as strong in, to someone who would and leave them to decide. US Soccer CEO Dan Flynn said that Cordeiro will be working with several candidates already lined up and fill the USMNT GM position in the coming weeks in hopes to fill that position first. And then they would focus on filling the USWNT GM position with input from manager Jill Ellis in the hiring process.
Dan Flynn says new GM on the men's side is the first priority. New USSF president Cordeiro will be in Chicago next week to work on it. Several candidates lined up, won't reveal who. Jill Ellis will be in Chicago next week to work on women's GM position. #USWNT #USMNT
— Caitlin Murray (@caitlinmurr) February 10, 2018
Obviously, Cordeiro’s decision in hiring the GM won’t work unless he has people around him who are able to share good logic. But at the very least, once the GM is in place, it will be another voice and another person to give input on the important issues in US Soccer and spread some of the power that the president used to have.
Throughout this election, I learned that while every candidate wasn’t perfect, US Soccer would stand to improve with all eight candidates being involved in some capacity, including Cordeiro and Carter. But particularly among the six “outsiders,” while I agreed with some candidates more than others, they all brought their heart and soul under unlikely circumstances into trying to be president. Sure, being USSF President is a powerful position but if you look at it up close, you’ll wonder why anyone would want the job in the first place. It’s unpaid and you’re the lightning rod for any and all criticism whether that’s deserved or undeserved. Roger Goodell takes a bunch of crap from all angles about the NFL as commissioner but would he take that if the job was unpaid and he wasn’t getting $50 million a year?
This isn’t exactly the sexiest job to have in soccer and you had people willing to leave great opportunities if they were elected USSF president because of their love of soccer and desire to see it grow. I don’t have to agree with Eric Wynalda on moving MLS to the winter schedule but I definitely want to see him involved in US Soccer because he’s knowledgable about the sport, has been involved for multiple decades and is clearly passionate about soccer. And I can appreciate that. So if you see any of the six reform candidates getting involved with USSF in the future, that isn’t a bad thing. They may not be president, but they would be involved and be within the system. And if they want change, having them in there would be progress, just not in the way their supporters expected.