NY Red Bulls Coach Jesse Marsch Calls on MLS Coaches to Play Young Americans
NY Red Bulls Coach Jesse Marsch Calls on MLS Coaches to Play Young Americans avatar

Harrison, N.J. – New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch went there.

Speaking to the assembled press at New York Red Bulls Media Day on Tuesday afternoon, GotSoccer asked the fourth year supremo, if, in light of the USMNT’s World Cup failure, MLS coaches have a responsibility to give time to young American players?

Jesse Marsch calls on coaches to give young players playing time. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

It is a question that has generally been dismissed out of hand by the notion that coaches in any league must play the players that give their team the best chance of winning while also giving the coach the best odds of keeping his job.

But Marsch took a different tack. Marsch went there.

“Yes, in the current U.S. (soccer) climate I think that developing young American talent is more vital than ever,” the Red Bulls coach began. “Now, that being said, there’s countless people in this country, countless people,” Marsch went on, “that are putting their best foot forward in this moment, so to just talk about Red Bull would be totally unfair because there’s so many at the grassroots level, even within our club with our training programs, there are so many people that are committed to youth development.”

For Marsh the next step, getting those young American players on the pitch is simple, “it requires professional coaches who are willing and ready to play young players.”

“Every club in the league says they’re about youth development, every one,’ Marsch noted, “but I could show you reasons why most of them are not and I think what we’re doing here at Red Bull, yes, is very important to football in our country. It’s what we believe in, it’s who we are, it’s what benefits us in terms of our style of play. And listen, we also have a big benefit because we have a great academy.”

“But nonetheless,” Marsch underlined, “it is really important right now that we have coaches in MLS who are willing to play young players.”

19 year old Tyler Adams was one of the home grown players to make an impact last season. (ISI Photos/Mike Lawrence)

So, why don’t more teams follow the Red Bulls lead and play their American youngsters? Marsch sees two possible culprits, an influx of foreign coaches into MLS and Targeted Allocation Money, or TAM.

Not that he is turning his nose up at the extra funding that TAM allows but Marsch sees some potential problems with the program.

“Ultimately,” the Red Bulls boss concedes, “each coach has to decide what their identity is but I think even as a league, when you look at TAM initiative versus youth development initiatives, we all love TAM money, it helps put better players into our team but it could potentially threaten youth development and we need to find a way to incentivize academies, homegrown players, youth development, selling of young players, whatever it may be so that teams are continually committed to actually playing young players. Not just hoping that they’ll play young players and have good academies but committed to doing it because they could be rewarded.”

As for the foreign coaches, Marsch had this to say. “One of the concerns with more foreign coaches is, are their motivations as tied to youth development from an American standpoint as maybe some of the American coaches?”

Later in the press conference, another reporter asked Marsch to clarify his remarks on foreign coaches and he began somewhat optimistically, saying “I don’t want this to be taken as a massive talking point,” before continuing. “I think it’s great that we have some good foreign coaches in our league, they bring something new, but I think it’s important for everyone to understand. Given the climate of where we are with U.S Soccer that developing the American player is important, is massively important and if we have coaches who don’t value that, then we’re going to now jeopardize the future of where we are with U.S.soccer.”

“This is a responsibility, it’s a responsibility as a professional coach to commit yourself to the young American players, a responsibility” Marsh emphasized, “that we all should have, so I just want to make that very clear.”

Yes, Jesse Marsch went there.

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MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

With Season 23 about ready to kick off it is time for the first MLS Big – 5 of the year, so let’s get to it.

Play the Kids?!

With all the hand-wringing regarding youth development in the wake of the USMNT’s failure to advance to Russia, we have to ask, will MLS teams give the youth of America a chance to prove its worth in 2018?

Andrew Carleton during a training session with the U20’s. (ISI Photos/Casey Brooke Lawson)

Will there be room for Andrew Carleton in Atlanta’s stacked midfield? Similarly, can Chris Durkin force his way into Ben Olsen’s re-stocked midfield in the nation’s capital?

Of course, there is no way of compelling coaches to entrust their jobs to the vagaries of youth, sill it is worth asking if Weston McKennie can find playing time in the Bundesliga, why more young players can’t see regular action in a league with what can only be called a “forgiving” playoff system.

Following a breakout season as an 18 year old in 2017 New York Red Bulls midfielder/defender Tyler Adams is the current standard bearer for Homegrown talent, while Real Salt Lake showed the way as a team; getting good performances from a trio of young stars last season in Justen Glad, Danilo Acosta, and Brooks Lennon.

With the success of Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, Germany has become a haven of late for young Americans but if the USMNT is going to turn things around Major League Soccer is going to have to do its part.

2. All the Young Dudes

The old MLS as Retirement League trope took quite a hit this off-season with teams around the league going all in on young South and Central American players. Atlanta made the biggest splash, signing 18-year-old Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Barco on a league record $15 million transfer.

Ezequiel Barco (L) during a preseason friendly match. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Barco will be joined in MLS this season by a host of other talented youngsters including 20-year-old Jesus Medina, NYCFC, 19-year-olds Diego Rossi, LAFC, and Josue Colman, Orlando City.

A major boost in Targeted Allocation Money, or TAM, has financed this run on young Latino talent but is this influx of young talent from Central and South America contributing to the lack of playing time for Young Yanks discussed in item 1?

Perhaps but the league’s talent level is bound to rise and it will be up to the Young Americans to keep up.

3. Hotlanta!

How good can Atlanta be? The team did everything right in its maiden season before raising eyebrows, and league standards in the build-up to year two with the Barco signing garnering most of the attention.

Darlington Nagbe (R) will add more flair to an already exciting Atlanta. (ISI Photos/John Norton)

The exciting, if enigmatic, Darlington Nagbe will add his silky skills to an already smooth United attack and with a year of playing together under their belts, Atlanta should be even better. Miguel Almiron is still in Atlanta, exciting youngster Andrew Carleton may get a chance to show what he’s got at this level and if Josef Martinez can stay healthy, watch out. The Venezuelan striker notched an impressive 19 goals in just 20 appearances and if he can stay healthy Atlanta could make a deep run playoff run.

4) TFC 2?

A year after becoming the first Canadian side to hoist the MLS Cup while also setting a points record the question is, can they do it again? The answer would seem to be why not.

Gregory van der Wiel was brought in to replace Beitashour. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Not surprisingly then TFC went into the off-season with a shorter to-do list than most. Greg Vanney did need a new fullback/wingback to replace solid veteran Steven Beitashour, so he scooped up former Netherlands international Gregory van der Wiel as well as adding another weapon in 24-year-old Spanish midfielder Ager Aketxe from Bilbao. Aketxe played most recently at Cadiz and should be another headache for MLS coaches trying to game plan against Giovinco, Altidore and the rest of the dangerous Reds squad.

5) LA Story

Sounds so nice they had to say it twice. Oh, sorry, wrong coast. Instead, let’s look 3,000 miles west where Los Angeles is set to become a fascinating battleground for MLS prominence with LAFC arriving on the heels of the once mighty Galaxy’s worst season ever.

Sigi Schmid took over the floundering former dynasty part way through 2017 and didn’t exactly turn things around. No, instead the MLS originals finished with the worst record in the league. Unfamiliar territory for the five-time MLS Cup Champions.

Carlos Vela (R)  should bring some excitement to the LAFC offense. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Now along comes LAFC, with its cadre of big-name owners, a fancy new stadium in downtown LA, Bob Bradley behind the bench and Mexican national team star Carlos Vela to woo the area’s much desired Mexican-American demographic.

With Will Farrell cracking wise from the stands at Banc of California Stadium should the Galaxy be worried out in suburban Carson, California? Maybe, but the Galaxy has too much talent on its roster to suffer another 2017 type disaster.

Included in that group are the Dos Santos brothers, with Jonathan on hand from the beginning of the campaign to assist brother Gio in righting the Galaxy ship. The Galaxy may have solved their goalkeeper issues with the addition of David Bingham from San Jose, Perry Kitchen adds some hustle to the midfield, Chris Pontius is a nice veteran pickup, and still just 30 despite having been around it seems, forever.

Romain Alessandrini was a huge bright spot last season and a returning Sebastian Lletget will be a big boost Schmid’s crew. Lletget was a big loss to both L.A. and the USMNT when he went down with a Lisfranc foot injury last year and while L.A. will be careful with the midfielder, a healthy Lletget is a big addition to the Galaxy.

So, what about the new kids on the block?

LAFC would seem to be fighting a battle on at least three fronts, with the Galaxy, the shadow of Atlanta’s expansion success, and oh yeah, the rest of MLS, in particular, the Western Conference.

The newcomers should be well set with Bradley as coach, but a coach can only do so much, so who will be donning the YouTube emblazoned LAFC unis?

Designated Player Vela is the big signing with Young DP Diego Rossi also generating plenty of buzz. Bradley has a group of MLS proven veterans led by defenders Walker Zimmerman, Laurent Ciman, and Steven Beitashour. Midfielder Benny Feilhaber is a Bradley favorite and his playmaking skills should be a boon to the new side. Marco Urena has arrived from San Jose and should shoulder some of the scoring load up front – for what it’s worth Urena has been hot in the pre-season.

There is talent in this squad but with the roster showing just 18 players, not much depth, so Bradley will have to augment his roster, and hope for good health.

6. Bonus* Save the Crew?

Is this season a referendum on Save the Crew? If Columbus sold out every match at MAPFRE Stadium, would owner Anthony Precourt care? And what about Austin? What happens if the Texans say thanks but no thanks to the Crew?

Berhalter will be hoping that Zardes can prove himself to be an out and out striker.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Meanwhile, Gregg Berhalter has to get his team ready to play soccer minus Ola Kamara and Justin Meram. If Gyasi Zardes can prove that he really is a striker and not winger, and Berhalter will give him that chance, then the on-field issues could work out well enough.

Off the field, who knows?

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NWSL Names USWNT and Canadian National Team Stars for 2018 Season
NWSL Names USWNT and Canadian National Team Stars for 2018 Season avatar

Canada will have 11 of their players funded to play in NWSL by the Canadian Fed(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

With the start of season number six little over a month away NWSL followers and participants alike are looking to turn the page on a difficult winter, lowlighted by the loss of the Boston Breakers franchise, and to that end the league has announced its list of allocated players from the national team’s of the United States and Canada, with the Mexican federation no longer participating.

23 of Jill Ellis’ troops will have their salaries paid by U.S. soccer while 11 of Canada’s best will be funded by the Canadian fed.

Via the league’s website six players are newly assigned for this season, Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage) and Taylor Smith (Washington Spirit) from the United States, ; and from Canada, Sky Blue FC forward Adriana Leon and Washington Spirit defender Rebecca Quinn.

Leroux’s rights will remain with Orlando Pride. (ISI Photos/Amy Kontras)

Three formerly allocated players rights will remain with their current clubs: Sydney Leroux (Orlando Pride), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride) and Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC). Morgan Brian joined Olympique Lyon this offseason, but her rights will remain with the Chicago Red Stars.

Also not on this list is Stephanie Labbé, who played for the Spirit in 2016/2017. On Wednesday night the team announced that they had elected not retain her rights, and she is now available to all teams via the NWSL Distribution Process. Teams have until 5 p.m. ET on Thursday to submit their interest with the league office.

Longtime stalwart Meghan Klingenberg did not make the U.S. list, joining Portland Thorns teammate, and 2017 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year, Adrianna Franch, on the outside looking in.

Here is the entire list, again per nwslsoccer.com.

Allocated players, by team:
*New Federation Player in 2018

Chicago Red Stars
Julie Ertz (USA)

Alyssa Naeher (USA)

Casey Short (USA)

Houston Dash
Jane Campbell (USA)*

Christen Press (USA)

Nichelle Prince (CAN)

North Carolina Courage
Allysha Chapman (CAN)

Sabrina D’Angelo (CAN)

Abby Dahlkemper (USA)*

Crystal Dunn (USA)*

Samantha Mewis (USA)

Lynn Williams (USA)

Orlando Pride
Ashlyn Harris (USA)

Alex Morgan (USA)

Shelina Zadorsky (CAN)

Portland Thorns FC
Tobin Heath (USA)

Lindsey Horan (USA)

Christine Sinclair (CAN)

Emily Sonnett (USA)

Seattle Reign FC
Allie Long (USA)

Megan Rapinoe (USA)

Sky Blue FC
Janine Beckie (CAN)

Adriana Leon (CAN)*

Carli Lloyd (USA)

Kailen Sheridan (CAN)

Utah Royals FC
Diana Matheson (CAN)

Kelley O’Hara (USA)

Amy Rodriguez (USA)

Becky Sauerbrunn (USA)

Desiree Scott (CAN)

Washington Spirit
Rose Lavelle (USA)

Mallory Pugh (USA)

Rebecca Quinn (CAN)*

Taylor Smith (USA)*

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U.S. Men’s and Women’s Teams Look to Shift Focus Back to the Field
U.S. Men’s and Women’s Teams Look to Shift Focus Back to the Field avatar

With U.S. followers still digesting the election of Carlos Cordeiro to the top spot in U.S. Soccer, the Federation’s senior teams will attempt to return the focus to the field as the two sides get set to return to action.

Dave Strachan looks likely to manage the Men in their next three games. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

On the men’s side of the ledger, a troika of friendlies has been added to kick off the 2018 schedule. With interim boss, Dave Sarachan expected to be at the helm for all three matches the Yanks will host Paraguay at the 10,000 seat Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. on March 27.

Speaking at Saturday’s AGM, Cordeiro and U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn made it plain that hiring a new coach for the Men’s National Team would have to wait until the newly created General Manager’s position is filled and that the appointment of a men’s supremo would take precedence over hiring a GM for the women’s side, not too surprising given the relative stability of the women’s program.

Sitting alongside Cordeiro on Saturday afternoon at Cordeiro’s first press conference as President of U.S. Soccer, Flynn called filling the men’s GM role “the first priority.”

Flynn declined to “publicly state a timeline” for the hire but the CEO sounded anxious to get to it, noting that “we have candidates identified.” Cordeiro agreed with Flynn’s assessment, saying of the process, “it’s a huge priority,” adding, “we need the General Manager in place before we can go find a coach.”

So, Sarachan looks set to continue in his caretaker role when the USMNT crosses the Atlantic to challenge the Republic of Ireland on June 2, in Dublin, before facing World Cup-bound France in Lyon on June 9.

Ellis has once again included a few inexperienced players in her squad. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

For the USWNT it is SheBelieves Cup time once again and Jill Ellis has named an intriguing roster for the four-team tournament taking place in early March.

Ellis will have to drop three players to reach the 23 player maximum for the tournament, a set of three doubleheaders featuring four of the World’s best women’s national teams, Germany, France, and, England, in addition, to the United States.

The series opens with England and France going toe to toe at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio with the U.S.A. taking on Germany in the nightcap.

The Americans will be looking to rebound from a poor performance at the 2017 event when the home team finished in last place, beating only Germany, 1-0, in the opening match before falling to England and France to end the tournament on a sour note.

This 26 player roster is highlighted by an inexperienced defense that is minus co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn, out with a foot injury, and includes two players culled from the college ranks, Tierna Davidson (Stanford) and Hailie Mace (UCLA).

Mace has no caps on her CV, while Davidson has just one. With 105 caps Kelley O’Hara is the veteran of the young group.

Pugh and Morgan are included in the initial squad. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Ellis will also be without stalwarts Tobin Heath, ankle, and Sam Mewis, knee, but stars Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz, and Megan Rapinoe have all been named to the preliminary roster.

This will be former Manchester United, Everton, and England defender Phil Neville’s first match in charge of the England team after his recent, and controversial appointment.

March 1, 2018 – MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
4:00 – England v France
7:00 – United States v Germany

March 4, 2018 – Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
12:00 – United States v France
3:00 – Germany v England

March 7, 2018 – Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, Florida
4:00 – France v Germany
7:00 – United States v England
U.S. roster (caps/goals)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 2/0), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 14/0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 24/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 14/0), Tierna Davidson (Stanford; 1/0), Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars; 3/0), Hailie Mace (UCLA; 0/0), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 105/2), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 19/0), Taylor Smith (Washington Spirit; 8/0), Emily Sonnett (Sydney FC, AUS/Portland Thorns FC; 13/0)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 69/6), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 58/15), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 44/4), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 7/2), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 247/98), Allie Long (Seattle Reign FC; 33/6), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 8/0)

FORWARDS (8): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC, ENG/NC Courage; 58/23), Ashley Hatch (Melbourne City FC, AUS/Washington Spirit; 1/0), Savannah McCaskill (Sky Blue FC; 1/0), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 135/81), Christen Press (Houston Dash; 97/44), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 30/8), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 130/34), Lynn Williams (NC Courage; 16/4)

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Carlos Cordeiro is the New President of U.S. Soccer
Carlos Cordeiro is the New President of U.S. Soccer avatar

Orlando, Fl. – An election fueled by outraged calls for change in the aftermath of the United States Men’s National Team’s World Cup elimination ended today in Orlando, Florida with the elevation of the sitting Vice President of U.S. Soccer, Carlos Cordeiro.

Cordero being congratulated on his win. (ISI Photos/Roy K. Miller)

Cordeiro’s ascension to the organization’s top spot was the culmination of a masterful campaign which saw the new President pull off a difficult strategy of highlighting his experience and his relationships within the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) while at the same time managing to convince voters that he was his own man, and not a surrogate for outgoing President Sunil Gulati.

Cordeiro was helped in that mission by his decision to declare his candidacy prior to Gulati’s announcement that he would step down after 12 years at the helm of U.S. Soccer.

Cordeiro also benefited from the perception that it was Soccer United Marketing CEO Kathy Carter and not Cordeiro, that was, in fact, the “establishment” choice.

Either way, it was clear after the first round of voting that none of the six “change” candidates would become President of U.S. Soccer at the end of this process.

The first round results. (ISI Photos/Roy K. Miller)

Cordeiro topped the first ballot with 36.3% of the vote, leading Carter, with 34.6%, with the chasing pack led by Eric Wynalda, well behind.

After garnering a scant 0.5% of the vote Paul Caligiuri opted to end his campaign. Cordeiro looked to be on the road to victory when he improved his lead after the second round with Carter dropping a percentage point as the front-runner’s support broke the 40% mark.

With his vote total falling to 0, Michael Winograd withdrew from the race, as did Steve Gans, whose support dipped to 2.4% of the votes after the second round of voting.

Cordeiro was declared the new President of U.S. Soccer after the third round with 68.6% of the vote, helped to that impressive total when MLS moved to the Cordeiro camp, abandoning its preferred candidate Carter.

Cordeiro sought to begin the healing process brought about by this contentious campaign, both immediately following his victory and some time later in his first press conference as President of U.S. Soccer.

Cordeiro posed for photos to celebrate his win. (ISI Photos/Mark Torstenson)

In fact, after noting that he was “very, very excited,” the newly elected President opened his inaugural presser by “thanking the seven other candidates.” “It was a very spirited campaign,” Cordeiro said, noting that “lots of very good issues surfaced. The membership” Cordeiro continued, “were more engaged than at any time I can remember in history, from the grassroots all the way to the pros.”

Sitting alongside U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn, Cordeiro listed securing the 2026 World Cup as “the most important priority of the federation” a process that he said would begin on Tuesday morning when the U.S. Canada and Mexico will get together for a scheduled meeting.

Coming in just behind World Cup 2026 on the new administrations to do list is hiring two General Managers, one each to run the USMNT and the USWNT.

“The first priority, “Flynn explained “is on the men’s side.” Flynn declined to give out a timeline but said that “we have candidates identified” with Cordeiro chiming in to note that “the board has approved both positions.”

Cordeiro ran what could almost be described as a stealth campaign, ceding the spotlight to his more voluble opponents while he worked on taking care of business behind the scenes.

Solo openly attacked Cordeiro and Carter in her speech.  (ISI Photos/Roy K. Miller)

Cordeiro readily admitted that running for VP two years ago with “more or less the same voting base,” was “perhaps to my advantage” in this race. The new President added that he tried to focus on the issues and that tunnel vision was on display when Cordeiro and Hope Solo hugged as the former U.S. goalkeeper left the stage immediately after delivering a stinging attack on Cordeiro and Kathy Carter.

“To be honest I wasn’t listening to her speech at that point in time because I was about to walk up.” Cordeiro noted, however, that Solo has frequently criticized him in the past, adding that Solo “is free to say what she wants to say, I obviously don’t agree with that.”

That ability to focus on the job at hand served Cordeiro well as a candidate, now that he has won the job, that talent will surely be tested anew.

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Presidential Candidates Dominate United States Coaches Convention
Presidential Candidates Dominate United States Coaches Convention avatar

Philadelphia, Pa. – The Presidential Candidates Forum hosted by US Youth Soccer was the undoubted centerpiece of the just completed United States Coaches Convention but it was hardly the only attraction when much of the American soccer community converged on the City of Brotherly Love this past weekend.

Draft countdown during the 2018 NWSL College Draft. (ISI Photos/)Jose L. Argueta)

No, not by a long shot. First we had the yearly talent auctions, the National Women’s Soccer League College Draft on Thursday, followed on Friday by the MLS SuperDraft. Both drafts drew large crowds of supporters, league officials, and press, but with a full roster of events taking place throughout the Convention, there were choices to be made.

Among the speakers on offer were Bruce Arena, Sunil Gulati, and seven of the eight candidates for U.S. Soccer President in one on one settings. Then, there was the usual array of educational meetings and demonstrations as well as a convention floor packed with vendors from all areas of the soccer world, including of course GotSoccer.

Led by CEO Gavin Owen-Thomas, GotSoccer staffers met clients old and new at the centrally located GotSoccer booth in between educational sessions provided by GotSoccer’s talented staff.

The highly anticipated annual GotSoccer party was a smash hit once again, with host Owen-Thomas saying a big thank you to GotSoccer clients at a festive and jam packed Hard Rock Cafe.

With so much going on there was no way to take it all, but here are a few highlights.

Garber with the number one pick Mountinho. (ISI Photos/Jose L. Argueta)

SuperDraft 2018 began with Save the Crew chants threatening to drown out MLS Commissioner Don Garber as he announced Joao Moutinho as the number one pick in the draft by the Los Angeles Football Club and reached a soccer highpoint when the hometown Philadelphia Union defied its own tightfisted image by sending $1.3 million in combined allocation money to the Chicago Fire in exchange for winger David Accam.

The days emotional peak came early when Francis Atuahene stood behind the podium after FC Dallas selected had him with the fourth pick of the SuperDraft following a trade with the Montreal Impact. The 21 year winger is the latest player to come to MLS through the Right to Dream Academy, following the same path to MLS as last year’s number one pick Abu Danladi of Minnesota United FC.

Atuahene began his remarks by thanking his grandmother and mother “back in Ghana” and his American family, his High School and the University of Michigan, among others before saying this. “I believe that everyone has a right to dream but unfortunately where I come from only a few have had that chance to realize that dream and I am glad to use my status as a professional player and more importantly my education to make a difference in the lives of people around me as well as my community back in Ghana.”

Atuahene with Garber. (ISI PhotosJose L. Argueta)

Atuahene had the audience in the palm of his hands when he added, “the Right to Dream Academy did it for me and now it is my turn to do it for others.”

But back to soccer. In a deal completed after the SuperDraft Atlanta United FC continued on its mission to shake up MLS paying out a league record shattering $15 million transfer fee to bring Ezequiel Barco to MLS. Just 18 years old the Argentine midfielder can play centrally or out wide for Tata Martino’s side but more importantly this signing again underlines the second year side’s ambition, and dares the rest of the league to match it.

A strange SuperDraft anomaly came about with a run on goalkeepers that saw New York City FC, the Houston Dynamo, and the Columbus Crew select Jeff Caldwell, Virginia, Michael Nelson, SMU, and Ben Lundgaard, Virginia Tech, with the 19, 20, 21 picks respectively.

The run on lanky glovemen came after Sporting KC made Butler’s Eric Dick the first netminder selected with the 13th pick of the SuperDraft.

NWSL Draft

One day prior to the MLS SuperDraft the more modestly monikered NWSL College Draft had the spotlight and while it was no surprise that Andi Sullivan, of Stanford and the USWNT was selected first by the Washington Spirit the Draft did not lack for drama and as in the MLS SuperDraft, it was a trade that stole the headlines.

NWSL first pick Andi Sullivan did not attend the draft due to international duty. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

And why not, with Carli Lloyd at the center of the biggest trade in league history. Lloyd, the two time World Player of the Year, wanted to return to her Jersey roots and while Sky Blue FC had to be happy to bring her home the team payed a steep price in surrendering Australian goal scoring ace Sam Kerr, who ends up with the Chicago Stars while Lloyd’s fellow USWNT star Christen Press lands in Houston from Chicago as part of the deal.

While not naming names Paul RIley, the coach of the Carolina Courage, seemed to be referencing the big trade when he expressed disappointment to a small clutch of reporters, including GotSoccer, that “players are starting to push, and make decisions for teams, and I don’t like that.”

“The players,” Reilly continued, “should play wherever they are, whatever uniform they put on.” Reilly concedes that there can come a time when a player needs “a change of coach, or a change of atmosphere” but he says “this, I’m from this area, or that area, I need to go home is tough for me.”

“I’d love to coach on Long Island,” Reilly continued, “but the reality is there’s no team in Long Island, so I’m ok with going to North Carolina or Buffalo, wherever it is.” “I think,” Reilly said, “they need to be a little bit more professional,” before noting, “in the men’s game they don’t get to pick where they play, do they?”

Prior to Saturday’s Forum seven of the eight candidates to succeed Sunil Gulati at the battered helm of U.S. Soccer addressed conventioneers, with only Carlos Cordeiro opting to keep his powder dry for the USYS session.

Dellacamera during The Presidential Candidates Forum. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

All of the candidates acquitted themselves well as J.P. Dellacamera presented three preselected questions and as many ”wildcard” queries as time allowed, along with opening and closing remarks. The format had been changed to a forum from the previously announced debate, with USYS feeling that eight candidates would make for an unwieldy debate.

A reasonable contention, although one candidate later lamented the change, telling GotSoccer that distinctions could have been better drawn in the original format. As it was GotSoccer felt that no candidate separated him or herself from the pack, leading to a hectic few weeks ahead of the February 11th election at the USSF AGM in Orlando.

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Candidate for President of U.S. Soccer – Kathy Carter
Candidate for President of U.S. Soccer – Kathy Carter avatar

“I’m not the establishment candidate,” Kathy Carter told GotSoccer recently as we chatted amidst the midday din at a trendy Manhattan restaurant.

Since announcing her candidacy to succeed Sunil Gulati as President of U.S. Soccer earlier this month, Carter, the President of Soccer United Marketing, or SUM, has been forced to perform a delicate dance of touting her decades of experience in the sport without seeming too much of an insider at this anti-incumbent moment as the American soccer community reckons with the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the World Cup next summer in Russia.

Kathy Carter (L) with Don Garber. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

“I’m not on the Board of Directors,” Carter said, by way of distancing herself from the “establishment” tag before pivoting to say, “clearly I’ve got a lot of experience.”

That experience took Carter from the pitch, where she tended goal in front of current USWNT coach Jill Ellis at William and Mary, to working on the organizing committee for the 1994 World Cup, to marketing MLS at its inception and eventually to SUM.

As Carter put it “I’ve been a part of the development and founding of Major League Soccer and ultimately the development of it, so my track record certainly proves that I’ve got the ability to evolve and change things and I hope,” Carter said, “to do that at the federation level as well.”

When we spoke the candidate had just returned from Toronto, where in addition to watching TFC raise the MLS Cup after defeating the 2016 champions Seattle Sounders, Carter had an opportunity to meet some of the voters in the February election.

I asked Carter if she was sensing the same “burn it all down” mentality among potential voters that many supporters felt immediately following the disastrous result in Trinidad and Tobago?

Carter was clear that the U.S. Women’s nation team is the best in the world.(ISI Photos/Steven Limentani)

“What I’m sensing,” Carter began, “is that change is good” although she was quick to differentiate between the men’s team and the women’s, noting that while the men failed, “our women are the best in the world.”

“What I’m sensing from the women is that we can’t stand on our laurels,” Carter relayed. “We need to continue to innovate and develop so that we maintain our dominance on the women’s level.”

Carter added that “on the men’s side of the game we need to continue to evolve so that we don’t find ourselves in this position ever again.” Citing the Paralympic program and beach soccer as examples, Carter stressed that “the program is vast” and the World Cup flop, “is one piece. What’s happened, and I share the great fervor and emotion about our not qualifying for Russia, I think we can never be in this situation again – but when I think about what the federation means, the national team is one piece but there’s a lot more that goes on with the federation.”

Carter explained. “Continuing to drive membership, and by that, I mean more kids and more amateurs into the game is as important as our national teams being successful on a global level.” “So,” Carter continued, “we cannot think of one to the exclusion of the other because I think that we have all of those things that we need to achieve success in.”

I asked Carter for her views on the hot-button issues of the day. First up, pay to play.

“Anybody that says that they have unilateral ability to abolish pay to play is selling the votes a line of b.s,” Carter told me. Carter calls the issue, “rather complex,” but believes that U.S. Soccer should be “making sure that we create more and more opportunities for kids to come into the game and for people to stay in the game.”

Carter cited “scholarship programs, education for parents and kids about the right path to be in this game, so that they aren’t chasing the dream and spending money, and spending money, and spending money, whether that’s on good programs or perhaps programs that don’t take them to their ultimate goal.”

Kathy Carter feels that it is impotent to get the kids to stay in the system.(ISI Photos/Jose Argueta)

Although Carter sees pay to play as “part of American sports in its totality” she told GotSoccer, “I think there are ways for kids to come in the system and more importantly to stay in the system.”

Asked about the Academy system Carter spoke of the role of the President of U.S. Soccer, saying that job requires “vision and leadership,” and “part of that is making sure that we have the right people around the table to have those conversations.”

The candidate “has had a lot of conversations with people in the game who have a variety of points of view about that and what I would say is, I don’t believe that I am the person to make those decisions, solely and individually.”

“I believe I’m the right person to put the smartest people in the room around technical development and athlete development from an elite level and make sure that we collaborate around the best way to make sure that players go through the system.”

With all the emphasis on the top levels of the game, Carter said unbidden, “if we don’t figure out a way to make sure that we empower the grassroots of this game and that there’s a base then we’ll leave kids out of the game.”

And then there is promotion and relegation or pro/rel. What does Carter think?

“I’m a fan of it. I like it as a fan,” Carter began before adding, “as it relates to the development of our game today, we’re not ready for it.” Paul Lapointe has proposed trying out pro/rel at the lower levels of the U.S. game and I asked Carter her opinion.

“Not today,” was the reply. Why not? “I think today we need stability in all of professional soccer.” “We need to make sure that we have stability much more than we need to institute, today, promotion and relegation.”

“That doesn’t mean,” Carter finished, “that someday down the line that it won’t be a time for that discussion but today is not the right day.”

Qualifications:

Following her college soccer career as a goalkeeper for William and Mary, where Carter counted current USWNT coach Jill Ellis as a teammate, Carter went on to a successful marketing career.

Highlights include working on the 1994 U.S. World Cup committee.
Serving as VP of Corporate Marketing for MLS from 1996-99.
President of Soccer United Marketing (SUM)

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NWSL Chief Amanda Duffy Addresses GotSoccer Convention
NWSL Chief Amanda Duffy Addresses GotSoccer Convention avatar

Atlantic Beach, Fl – On an American soccer weekend dominated by the appearance of five of the seven candidates for the position of U.S. Soccer President at the Candidates Forum hosted by GotSoccer at the company’s 10th Annual Winter Convention, NWSL Managing Director Amanda Duffy addressed the attendees on the state of the premier women’s league in the United States.

Amanda Duffy described the league as still being in its infancy. (Brad Smith)

A realist, Duffy described the league as still being in “its infancy.” This, despite NWSL’s status as the longest lasting professional league in U.S. history, its five years having bested the three clocked by both the WUSA and the WPS.

Perhaps it is her background as a player for the Carolina Courage in the WUSA that keeps Duffy grounded but in addressing an audience of state presidents, executive directors and administrators Duffy took a positive, if cautious, tone in discussing NWSL.

Duffy was quick to credit the U.S. Soccer and the league’s television deal with A&E with providing stability while touting the strides the league has made through the founding of its own NWSL Media Company.

(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Duffy pronounced herself “very happy” that Lifetime is televising the NWSL Game of the Week every Saturday at 3:00 clock providing fans with a “fixed window” to find the league while exposing the league to an audience that may not have otherwise been aware of NWSL.

Spreading the word that, hey! NWSL exists, was part of Duffy’s rationale for traveling to Florida for the GotSoccer event. “I’ve found that there are still members and colleagues in the soccer community in the United States that don’t even realize that NWSL exists,” Duffy told GotSoccer.

Only in the job since December, Duffy concludes reasonably enough, that if the soccer community is unaware that her league is out there, “you have to then assume that outside the industry the lack of awareness is that much larger.”

Duffy looked at the chance to address the GotSoccer Winter Convention attendees as an opportunity “to talk to everyone about the league and what its structure is and what some of our challenges are but also,” Duffy stressed, “what some of our focus is, to enable us to move forward, and how can state associations help with the overall growth of the league.”

Duffy spoke just a few hours ahead of the weekend’s main attraction, the Candidates Forum, so I asked if she felt that women’s soccer and NWSL, in particular, were being overlooked in his this process.

Duffy expressed that the NWSL had not been overlooked but the USSF. (ISI Photos/Wilf Thorne)

”No, not at all,” Duffy replied. “But, I also recognize that NWSL and women’s soccer is as much a part of the game in the United States as is men’s soccer, as is youth soccer, so I think in time there will be and should be conversations about the growth on the women’s side and I certainly think it (those conversations) will in due time.”

At least two of those conversations took place following Duffy’s talk and while Duffy told GotSoccer that prior to those casual conversations she hadn’t spoken to any of the candidates, she is “looking forward to what everyone’s thoughts are, particularly as it relates to the NWSL.”

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GotSoccer Candidates Forum for Presidency of USSF Livestream
GotSoccer Candidates Forum for Presidency of USSF Livestream avatar

The GotSoccer Candidates forum of the USSF Presidency is almost upon us.

Streaming Live exclusively on GotSoccer.com at 2:45pm EST on Saturday 11th November, the forum promises to be an intriguing event with five of the seven candidates that have confirmed their intention to run for President of U.S. Soccer in attendance.

The USMNT team will not be participating at the World Cup next year for the first time since 1986, after a 2-1 defeat away to Trinidad and Tobago a month ago. That loss away to a country with a population smaller than San Diego’s resulted in the resignation of head coach Bruce Arena, and pressure on Sunil Gulati to follow suit. With Gulati’s third term in charge of U.S. Soccer due to expire in February, challengers have already emerged to his leadership, and for the first time ever the Columbia University economics professor will face a contested election should he choose to stand.

Seven candidates have already announced their intention to stand for election in February, and of those seven, five – Paul Caligiuri, Steve Gans, Paul Lapointe, Mike Winograd and Eric Wynalda – will present their case for why they should be the President of U.S. Soccer at the GotSoccer/GotPro annual Winter Convention.

The forum will begin at 2:45pm EST and will be streamed live exclusively on GotSoccer.com

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Candidate for President of U.S. Soccer: Paul Lapointe
Candidate for President of U.S. Soccer: Paul Lapointe avatar

On Saturday, November 11, GotSoccer is hosting the confirmed candidates for the position of U.S. Soccer President in a two-hour Candidates Forum to be held at the 10th annual GotSoccer/GotPro Winter Convention in Atlantic Beach, Florida. The event will also be live-streamed.

And so, with the day rapidly approaching GotSoccer has invited each of the potential leaders to state his case.

Today we feature Club owner: Paul Lapointe

“Who’s this Lapointe guy?” “That’s my new tagline,” Lapointe told GotSoccer in a recent phone conversation. With a trio of former USMNT players running for the job of President of U.S. Soccer, Lapointe understands that you might not be familiar with him, though he doesn’t come off as particularly worried about it.

Who is this Lapointe guy?

“This Lapointe guy” has been operating across all levels of soccer in Massachusetts since he became the owner of an indoor soccer franchise in the 1980’s as a 23-year-old. Lapointe was a player and coach as well and has also co-founded a youth team.

These varied experiences give Lapointe a different vantage point from which to view the sport which Lapointe embraces, calling himself, “a grassroots guy.”

Lapointe says of the “current administration” of U.S. Soccer that “I think what we are seeing now with the American soccer community really showing a voice, I think it’s created because the current administration has been focused the money of game and hosting World Cups and building just the national team.”

“During this process,” Lapointe continued, “we fell short of the very thing that supports soccer in this country and that’s the youth system.” Lapointe feels that “we have to go back to youth system, we have to go back to the amateur system and we have to fix that and invest in that.”

“We have infrastructure now, we have huge stadiums, we’ve got state of the art training facilities, we’ve got coaching and education programs,” Lapointe says, “and yet we can’t deliver a youth system that supports it (the national team) today.” “It (a revitalized U.S. Soccer) has got to come from the amateurs, it’s got to come from the youth ranks, and I think the current administration has ignored that.”

Lapointe also has strong views on the women’s game in the United States. “Right off the bat,” Lapointe says, “I’m going to come out swinging. I think the women from the NWSL on down deserve a U.S. Open Cup. They deserve exposure levels in those ranks, as well.”

Lapointe would look at setting up the U.S. Open Cup for women. (ISI Photos/Jeremy Reper)

Ever the grassroots guy, Lapointe said, “the U.S Open Cup for women is number one. Number two, obviously equal pay. The base pay should be the same.” “Going back to the U.S. Open Cup,” Lapointe says, “I think it’s going to expose a little more tv and maybe attract some new investors.”

Lapointe has been a vocal proponent of promotion and relegation for American soccer and has called for a defined system that supports player development. The candidate told GotSoccer that he “is in the middle of writing that portion of it,” before elaborating. “I use the word defined because I don’t think anybody has come out with a defined program, in writing, that shows actual numbers.”

Speaking on the player development portion of his plan, Lapointe explained, “what I mean is this, I’ve defined a system that is going to be instituted through a registration system, and an identification system that works hand in hand.” Lapointe believes that his system can work in the youth ranks, amateur adult ranks and even in the professional game.

This system is intended to protect clubs from having their players poached and with some form of solidarity payments, Lapointe believes the system would encourage teams to develop players.

Lapointe is passionate about the game of futsal (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

With his experience in indoor soccer, Lapointe also calls himself “passionate about the game of futsal,” which he calls, “the gateway to the complete technical player.” “We have a futsal national team that competes in CONCACAF and we don’t even sanction the sport in this country.”

Lapointe would encourage more involvement and more money for the small field game, saying “it needs to be part of our development program.”

With over 36 years in the game at all levels, as a club owner and even league founder, a player on his team, a Community college coach, gives Lapointe confidence that he can be the person to lead U.S Soccer out of its current morass.

Lapointe says, “I don’t think American soccer is broken, I just think it needs a reboot.”

Qualifications:
Founder/Team Owner Indoor Soccer team
Pro indoor soccer player
co-founder/owner youth indoor soccer league
Technical Director

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Candidate for President of U.S. Soccer: Kyle Martino
Candidate for President of U.S. Soccer: Kyle Martino avatar

On Saturday, November 11, GotSoccer is hosting the confirmed candidates for the position of U.S. Soccer President in a two-hour Candidates Forum to be held at the 10th annual GotSoccer/GotPro Winter Convention in Atlantic Beach, Florida. The event will also be live-streamed.

And so, with the day rapidly approaching GotSoccer has invited each of the potential leaders to state his case.

Today we feature: NBC broadcaster Kyle Martino

The most recent of the seven entrants (so far) to declare, Kyle Martino wrestled publicly with his decision to give up his “dream job” with NBC Sports to make a run at the volunteer position of President of U.S. Soccer.

Martino interviewing Klinsmann (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Martino ultimately decided to take the leap but only after “a long conversation in the kitchen with my wife about jumping into the fray because I need her support and my families support to take on something so challenging.”

Perhaps to shore up that support Martino took a brief family vacation in Mexico, which he interrupted to speak to GotSoccer for over an hour before, “I hop on a plane to fly all over the country to hear what people are worried about, what people want from this soccer nation.”

Martino, who has taken a sabbatical from that dream job as a Premier League analyst for NBC Sports, has set up a GoFundMe page to finance that travel.

For Martino his page does more than raise cash, it gives voice to “the people who put on the jersey’s, who stand in the bars, who fly to Trinidad and Tobago and stand there and cheer.” “The people” Martino credits with,”funding U.S. Soccer.”

Martino feels the people who actually helped grow the surplus have next to say in who runs U.S. Soccer. (ISI/John Todd)

“The people,” Martino said, “that helped grow that $150 million surplus have next to no say in who runs U.S. Soccer, and that has to change.”

A quick glance at Martino’s GoFundMe page on Friday morning showed that the public has been receptive, with $18,000 raised toward a goal of $50,000. Martino told GotSoccer he wants to say to the U.S. Soccer public, “I serve you guys, so I need your help to fly around the country and meet with everyone.”

“From the billionaire owner who’s worried about his MLS franchise, all the way to the mom and dad in Los Angeles who can’t afford to get their kid a good soccer education.”

Martino told GotSoccer that he is in the process of fleshing out his Progress Plan, although he did discuss the framework, which features three main planks.

Transparency, Equality, and Progress. Beginning with progress, GotSoccer asked the candidate to give some details.

Progress means youth, a system Martino described as fractured. The candidate notes that “there are a lot of groups and individuals doing good things but without coordination, it’s hard to mobilize a standardized approach.”

Kyle Martino in action for the Galaxy in 2007. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Looking to the inner cities, long the Great White Whale of U.S. Soccer, Martino told GotSoccer, “we’re losing a huge demographic.” “An enormous portion of the soccer landscape is priced out of the game, or through lack of access, is not getting into the system.”

Citing the need for a massive investment, Martino notes that the much-discussed U.S. Soccer surplus can foot part of the bill, with sponsors, partners, etc, also chipping in.

Bringing small fields to the city courts like Martino has seen in his travels, inspired him to join with Steve Nash, Mia Hamm, and others to create an initiative called Over/Under, which will build small soccer fields on existing courts.

Futsal is another solution in crowded urban areas and Martino says that good work is being done but “without U.S. Soccer uniting everyone and supplementing what they are doing, subsidizing it and leading the way, it’s going to remain a disjointed project.”

Of transparency, Martino believes that paying the U.S. Soccer President would provide “accountability” and also, “make it (president of US Soccer) a fulltime job.”

Equality for the women’s game is essential to Martino’s platform from facilities, to equal pay.

“Our women,” Martino began, “are World Cup winners, world-class athletes, they’re soccer players, and the fact that they are treated as second-class citizens is abhorrent.”

Furthermore, Martino said that current and former national team players he has spoken to feel that “their success is being used to paper over cracks, when in reality they feel that they are regressing, they feel that other teams are gaining on them, other countries are spending time and resources in ways we aren’t to improve coaching at youth level all the way up to the national team level, and we keep pointing to Olympic Gold Medals and World Cup trophies as examples that everything is going fine, everything is good.”

Martino emphasises that the USWNT are the best of the best but they are not being put a position to continue that dominance. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

“Our women, Martino emphasizes, “are the Brazil, the Argentina, the Germany, the Spain, (of women’s soccer) and they’re not being put in the position to continue dominance.”

Calling himself, “really bummed to miss out” on Saturday’s GotSoccer Forum, Martino was happy to have a chance to explain his views on Sunil Gulati, having been criticized for saying that he would be willing to work with the incumbent, should he take over the position.

Citing Gulati’s position on the FIFA council, “a seat at the big table,” something that Martino says is “massive,” and also pointing to Gulati’s role at the center of the U.S. bid for the 2016 World Cup with Mexico and Canada, Martino explains his position.

“I think it’s a bit naive to try and gain popularity and political points by disparaging Sunil Gulati,” Martino begins. After pointing to his own public criticisms of Gulati and noting that he had been one of the first call for Gulati to step down, Martino reprised his recent New York Times comment, saying “working in lockstep, as I said, would be about ensuring that we get the 2026 bid,” in addition to having a friendly voice inside FIFA.

Check out Kyle Martino’s platform at everyonesgameusa.com

Qualifications:
Played at University of Virginia
Former MLS player.
NBC Sports Analyst- Premier League
Coached at Staples H.S. Connecticut
8 USMNT Caps

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Candidate for President of U.S. Soccer:Carlos Cordeiro
Candidate for President of U.S. Soccer:Carlos Cordeiro avatar

On Saturday, November 11, GotSoccer is hosting all of the confirmed candidates for the position of U.S. Soccer President in a two-hour Candidates Forum to be held at the 10th annual GotSoccer/GotPro Winter Convention in Atlantic Beach, Florida. The event will also be live-streamed.

And so, with the day rapidly approaching GotSoccer has invited each of the potential leaders to state his case.

Today we feature Vice President of U.S. Soccer: Carlos Cordeiro

Of all the candidates running to succeed longtime President Sunil Gulati, the best positioned may be U.S. Soccer Vice President Carlos Cordeiro.

Carlos Cordeiro (R) at a U.S. bid committee meeting 2010 (ISI Photos/Howard C Smith)

Having been involved with U.S. Soccer at a high level for over 10 years, Cordeiro had considered making a run at the top job in four years before moving his timetable forward with an eye on a federation that he feels has “plateaued” after years of steady progress.

Some observers saw Cordeiro’s declaration of his candidacy as signaling a break with Gulati, with whom Cordeiro has been closely linked in the past, but Cordeiro told GotSoccer that he has always been his own man, describing himself as “fiercely independent.”

In fact, Cordeiro told GotSoccer that he is not anybody’s person, adding that he “is offended by the suggestion.”

Cordeiro pointed out the outpouring of grief and anger at the World Cup elimination of the USMNT.  (ISI Photos/Howard C Smith)

Asked why he elected to make this run for the top job at this time, Cordeiro pointed to the “outpouring of grief and anger” following the World Cup elimination loss to Trinidad and Tobago, while making sure to point out that there was more to his decision to enter the race than just one loss, just one World Cup cycle.

Given the wide range of issues facing a shellshocked U.S. Soccer community, Cordeiro feels that his resume, combined with his Mission 26/27 plan for the future of U.S. Soccer, separates him from the crowded field of candidates.

“To effectively compete against federations like Spain, Germany, France and others, U.S. Soccer must increase its resources and ensure that all of its members are prospering from youth to professional. The Federation has doubled its budget in the last several years. But it now has to set its sights on increasing those resources by multiples. That type of growth requires a collaborative leader who can bring together various stakeholders toward a common goal, which is Mission 26/27.”

Cordeiro is focused and excited about Mission 26/27

The U.S. Soccer Vice President pronounced himself “focused and excited” about Mission 26/27, which has at its center the ambition of landing the 2026 World Cup in a united bid with Mexico and Canada and following that up by hosting the 2027 Women’s World Cup and fielding competitive teams at both events.

With only Morocco to compete against the United North American bid for 2026 looks like a solid bet, although with FIFA involved it would be unwise to rule out another shock along the lines of Qatar 2022.

Should Gulati decide against another run or if the incumbent is to be defeated, Cordeiro can claim to be in the best position to continue U.S. efforts to land the World Cup, given his current role on the United Bid Committee.

That position is part of a resume that Cordeiro believes makes him the best qualified of all the candidates. From his pre-soccer days as a partner at Goldman Sachs, to his position as the first Independent Director at U.S. Soccer, to a place on the Board of the Directors at U.S. Soccer since to 2006, and his role as Treasurer, right up to his elevation to Vice President of the Federation in 2016 and roles at CONCACAF and FIFA, Cordeiro believes he has the credentials to lead U.S. Soccer going forward.

Having spent much of the past decade in the trenches it should be no surprise that Cordeiro has some thoughts on the position of the President in the U.S. Soccer hierarchy.

The VP agreed that the lines have blurred between the roles of President of U.S. Soccer and that of the CEO, a position held by Dan Flynn. Cordeiro makes clear his position on the two roles in his Mission 26/27 plan, quoted below.

Cordero stated that he ran with a robust mandate when he was elected as Vice President. (ISI Photos/ISI Mike Lawrence.

“When I was elected Vice President, I ran with a robust mandate from the membership for needed governance reform within the Federation. As President, I will continue to implement governance reform to ensure we pursue a more transparent, collaborative path of leadership. For example, the principal role of the President, and by extension the Board, include overseeing strategy that is implemented by the CEO and facilitating discussion to ensure all actions taken by the Board are fully vetted. The CEO is responsible for the day to day management of the Federation.”

To find out more about Cordeiro’s platform and Mission 26/27 go to twitter at @CACSoccer

Qualifications: Former Partner and Managing Director at Goldman Sachs.
Member of U.S. Soccer Board of Directors since 2006.
1st Independent Director of U.S. Soccer.
Vice President of U.S. Soccer

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Candidate for President of U.S. Soccer: Eric Wynalda
Candidate for President of U.S. Soccer: Eric Wynalda avatar

On Saturday, November 11, GotSoccer is hosting the confirmed candidates for the position of U.S. Soccer President in a two-hour Candidates Forum to be held at the 10th annual GotSoccer/GotPro Winter Convention in Atlantic Beach, Florida. The event will also be live-streamed.

And so, with the day rapidly approaching GotSoccer has invited each of the potential leaders to state his case.

Today we feature U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda.

So, why would Eric Wynalda give up a broadcasting career, his coaching ambitions, and possibly his consulting business for a non-paying job as the President of U.S. Soccer?

Eric Wynalda

Because Wynalda told GotSoccer in a recent phone chat, “some things are too important.” “I think,” the U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer said, “my moral compass has brought me to this place more than anything else.”

“We have been operating under the assumption that these problems were going to fix themselves but my patience has run out.”

His patience has worn thin, not only with, “the current cast of characters that are trying to fix the game,” but also “the ones that are trying to insert themselves into the conversation.” A group that Wynalda “has zero confidence” in.

A vocal proponent of bringing Major League Soccer in line with the rest of the soccer world by bringing promotion and relegation to the league, Wynalda acknowledges that relegation is “a scary thought” for owners who were promised perpetual first division status. Still, Wynalda told GotSoccer, “I think there is a growing consensus now in some of the ownership groups in Major League Soccer that they want to see a better way.”

That better way, says Wynalda is, “an open system that doesn’t disallow some of these (lower division) teams, who have gotten their act together, who have put a great product on the field, an opportunity to have a light at the end of the tunnel, and that is to play top flight soccer.”

“The competitive nature of our professional league is held back,” Wynalda believes, by the MLS schedule, which he points out “is the polar opposite of what everybody else does.”

And Wynalda argues that the weather in places like Chicago, Montreal, and New England, often cited by opponents of changing the MLS schedule, is not an impediment to joining the rest of the world.

“Right now,” Wynalda argues, “we start in bad weather and we finish in horrible weather. What we’ve learned is that as the weather gets poor, so does the soccer.”

Seattle celebrating their first MLS Cup in 2016. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Pointing to Seattle’s 2016 MLS Cup penalty kick victory over Toronto, Wynalda said, “we saw a horrible final last year in Toronto. The winning team played 120 minutes without getting a shot on goal.”

Wynalda suggests that Germany’s winter break could be emulated here before adding that “right now we (MLS) have just decided that we are going to play right through a World Cup.” “We’re only going to take a two-week break, although the World Cup lasts a little more than a month,” Wynalda said in astonishment.

Wynalda believes MLS and ultimately the national team is hurt by these MLS peculiarities.

“I spent a couple of weeks in Europe two months ago,” Wynalda began by way of illustrating the league’s perception problem. “In conversations with a lot of officials and GMs they literally looked me in the eye and said, we’re not interested in Major League Soccer.” “Then you say,” Wynalda went on, “but you just signed three American players – oh, of course, but,” Wynalda was told, “if they make the mistake of signing with Major League Soccer we’re no longer interested, and that’s a problem.”

“Europe will not engage with us,” Wynalda concludes, “simply because of the timing of our schedule. We refuse to engage in the transfer market, but now they’re coming across the pond and taking our talent at the age of 16 and 17 and convincing them that staying in America is a mistake for their career.”

“When you have 99% of the agents that I’ve spoken with, somewhere between 25 and 30 agents, and not one of them at this juncture, especially with what’s just happened with the national team, will tell you that their advice is to sign in Major League Soccer.” “That’s a massive problem,” Wynalda emphasizes, “especially when you count how much influence the agents have.”

Wynalda believes that the women situation is easy to resolve. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Of course, Wynalda had much to say outside of the realm of MLS. On the U.S. WNT and equal pay, etc Wynalda told GotSoccer, “the women’s situation is very easy. We have never honored them, we have never had a relationship from the federation standpoint that was representative of a partnership.” “That,” Wynalda said, “needs to be fixed.”

Wynalda believes “you would be hard-pressed to find somebody in this day and age to say, out loud, publicly, that they don’t support equal pay.”

As a former contracted employee of U.S. Soccer, Wynalda feels a kinship with today’s USWNT members. “I remember my first contract,” Wynalda said. “It was $18,000 and when I signed it in March they explained to me that it was prorated, so I was only going to make about 15.”

So, what can the President of U.S. Soccer do about all of this?

“At the end of the day,” Wynalda said, “your role as President is to help this country have a clear vision and that comes from soccer knowledge.” The status quo is simply not good enough for Wynalda, who told GotSoccer, “that has been the narrative for Mr. Gulati,” who according to Wynalda took the stage a couple of weeks ago at a United States Adult Soccer Association function, “and informed all the state association members that we’re going to be okay.”

Wynalda thinks ‘okay’ isn’t good enough. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

“That was his message, and I couldn’t help it. I had to look him in the eye and with that audience and say, I think you’re right. I think we will be okay if you stay in charge.” For Wynalda, however, “okay isn’t good enough anymore, it’s not good enough.”

Qualifications: Hall of Fame playing career. Head Coach with Cal FC, Atlanta Silverbacks, Bakersfield Brigade.
Operates consults business on soccer issues.
Technical Director Atlanta, Bakersfield.
Longtime analyst, currently for Fox Sports.

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Candidate for President of U.S. Soccer: Paul Caligiuri
Candidate for President of U.S. Soccer: Paul Caligiuri avatar

On Saturday, November 11, GotSoccer is hosting all of the confirmed candidates for the position of U.S. Soccer President in a two-hour Candidates Forum to be held at the 10th annual GotSoccer/GotPro Winter Convention in Atlantic Beach, Florida. The event will also be live-streamed.

And so, with the day rapidly approaching GotSoccer has invited each of the potential leaders to state his case.

Today we feature U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer Paul Caligiuri.

Paul Caligiuri saved American soccer once before and now, at what Caligiuri calls a moment of “transformational change,” for the sport in the United States, he would like the chance to do it again. The first time, back in 1989, Caliguri rescued American soccer from continued obscurity, as well as the embarrassment of hosting the 1994 World Cup without having qualified for the previous Cup, when he scored “The Shot Heard Round the World” to beat Trinidad and Tobago, sending the U.S. to the World Cup for the first time in 40 years.

Paul Caligiuri (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Now, with the U.S. missing out on the World Cup for the first time after last month’s calamitous loss in Trinidad and Tobago, ironically in the same stadium where Caligiuri scored his famous goal, the former defender/midfielder told GotSoccer that he is running to succeed Sunil Gulati as the President of U.S. Soccer.

GotSoccer spoke to Caligiuri by phone and the 53-year old former defender/midfielder let it be known that he is aiming high when he told GotSoccer, “you’ll be the first to hear that my goal is to win the World Cup in 2022.”

“That’s bold” Caligiuri admits. “As bold as you can get but I believe in the athletes, I believe we have talented coaches, and minds and if we put it together great things can happen.”

Caligiuri wants to see U.S. Soccer “do everything we possibly can to help the men’s national team. The proper selection process, the proper development, the proper opportunities, the proper coaching staff.”

“From A to Z” Caligiuri stated that the mission is, “to inspire these athletes to do whatever they can to win the World Cup.” Caligiuri has equally lofty goals for the U.S. Women’s National Team, saying “we need to continue to be successful and go back to back World Cups.”

Caligiuri’s Hall of Fame playing career brought him from UCLA to Germany and East Germany and then to the fledgling MLS, first with Columbus in 1996 and to the LA Galaxy where Caligiuri retired in 2001.

The California native has stayed in the game since his retirement in a variety of roles, from coaching both the men’s and women’s teams at Cal Poly Pomona and semipro club Orange County FC, a job he still holds, to coaching youth sides, to serving on the U.S.S.F. Athlete’s Council and Board of Directors.

For Caligiuri, the “inspiration has always been there to help and build soccer in America and that remains my commitment.” Caligiuri told GotSoccer that “we need to be better. We will do the right thing for all members players coaches, and the communities we serve.”

Caligiuri did not want to lay out a detailed plan in a phone conversation, saying that he is “excited to present that at the GotSoccer Forum,” adding that he hasn’t seen detailed plans from the other candidates.

Caligiuri dismissed the Mission 26/27 plan put forward by U.S. Soccer Vice President and Presidential candidate Carlos Cordeiro, as “methods that have been in place for a long time.”

Asked to comment on the recent ill will between the women’s national team and the federation Caligiuri didn’t hold back. “The women who spoke out are our heroes,” Caligiuri said, adding “these issues can be massively avoided for the better of the game.”

Caligini thinks that it is important that the USSF do the right thing towards these heroines. (ISI Photos/Steven Limentani)

Saying that USWNT players have positively influenced “millions, maybe a billion people around the planet,” Caligiuri believes that it is vital that U.S. Soccer “do the right thing” going forward and to avoid what he calls “these plaguing issues.”

“We are divided,” Caligiuri stated. “From every pillar of the game. From the pro side to the youth, and to the adults.” ”In a lot of ways this division has been enhanced through the leadership,” which Caligiuri contends, “is not leadership.”

Caligiuri wants to be the leader to get U.S. Soccer’s various warring tribes “to lock arms and build this unified effort because the task of being the best in the world is a huge goal. It is the biggest goal, the highest goal.”

It is the highest of standards,” Caligiuri notes, adding, “I believe that I can be that leader that we are looking for.”

Qualifications.

Member of U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame. Head Men’s and Women’s Coach at Cal Poly Pomona. Youth Coach.
Member of Athlete’s Council U.S. Soccer
Board Member at U.S. Soccer.

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