It’s Finally Over

As the 2018 USSF Presidential Election comes to a conclusion, the mud-slinging and political warfare has ended, the smoke has cleared, and the (soccer) people have spoken.

Carlos Cordeiro will be the next USSF President.

Each candidate focused on “change”, a keyword that has floated around Twitter and social media discussions often. It’s a process that many are excited has come to a conclusion. Each candidate was given 5 minutes to make their case, with the first being Paul Caligiuri, who focused on his overall credentials as a potential candidate. A USMNT veteran with a passion for coaching and youth development, he told potential voters that “your vote represents everyone” within US Soccer- fans, players, coaches, everyone…and asked them to “feel and share my unified vision”. Unfortunately, Caligiuri was the first eliminated when the first round of voting concluded.

first round of ussf voting

Next up was Steve Gans, whose message to voters was that his experience in a successful corporate environment, paired with his lifelong passion for the sport which started at a young age, made him the best man for the job. Gans told the story of his father immigrating from Germany to Boston, introducing Gans to the beautiful game at a young age. Gans said that State Associations carriy a burden, which local state associations actually identified with after speaking to a few local representatives. However, Gans was the third to withdraw, after the second round of voting concluded and it became obvious that Carter and Cordeiro were the front-runners.

Gans was followed by Michael Winograd, who focused his attention on the cost associated with playing youth soccer in the United States, referring it to a “money grab”. Winograd also focused on his experience working for “the biggest companies in the world”, and urged voters to consider him as the most likely candidate to “make US Soccer better”. Winograd, like Gans, withdrew after the second round of voting

second round of ussf voting

Kathy Carter spoke next, and talked about her dad coaching her at a young age, despite knowing nothing about soccer and wearing baseball cleats instead of soccer “boots”. Carter pledged to “lead change, not by using a few band-aids, but through hard work”. Carter said that the lessons she has learned in the business world gives her the ability to lead, vowing to make improvements in youth soccer and going “all-in” as it relates to the women’s program. Carter said it was time to “stop talking, and move towards action”, vowing her commitment to the game and overall soccer community.

Up next was Kyle Martino, who gave an early shout-out to his youth coach in Connecticut who he says was in attendance. Martino stated that unity was still a possibility after such a heated election, and accredited his parents for being able to afford for him to play soccer growing up as a big part of him being given the opportunity to run for USSF President. Martino stated that US Soccer was not available to underserved youth, saying that participation was down 25% from last year. He focused on grassroots movements, vowing to empower State youth soccer associations, and pushing for “change”, as he continued to deliver his speech over the music that was attempting to play him off of the stage.

Eric Wynalda followed Martino, vowing to keep his speech short and to the point. Wynalda said that US Soccer, as a whole, would be better off after this election process. He said that he was ready, as a candidate, to “fight to the very end”, but said “the fighting stops here”. Wynalda said that he planned to help collaborate all groups (youth, adult, professional, etc.), asking voters who claimed they were ready for change to “vote with your heart”.

Hope Solo was up next, and the former USWNT GK came out firing. She mentioned the complaint that she filed against USSF, and went on to “throw shade” at both Kathy Carter and Carlos Cordeiro, which rubbed many within US Soccer the wrong way. Sge said that Cordeiro failed to stand up for unsafe playing conditions for women players, and claimed that he did not stand up for equal pay for women. She used the pay discrepency between herself and Tim Howard as an example, then went on to mention Kathy Carter whom she publicly criticized throughout the election. Despite Solo’s loud standing ovation at the conclusion of her speech, her words failed to register with voters, earning only 1.5% of votes once the second round of voting concluded. Leading into the third round, once Winograd and Gans withdrew, she would be the candidate most likely to be eliminated, but it didn’t matter.

Last to present was Carlos Cordeiro, who many viewed as one of the two “establishment” candidates who were both front-runners. It was a bit awkward for Cordeiro to follow Solo after the allegations she made against him, but he didn’t appear shook and delivered a composed speech to voters. He said that he was the candidate most qualified to actually deliver change, stating that he was the only presidential candidate who had the necessary full-scope vision and plan that were necessary to implement.

Once the third round of voting concluded, Cordeiro was the winner after obtaining 50% of the vote that was necessary for victory. He gave his acceptance speech, followed by an emotional goodbye from Sunil Gulati.

Local Reaction

Following the election results, I caught up with MSYSA board members who were in attendance. They stated that they spoke to every candidate, and said the decision was extremely difficult in the end. However, they believed that Carlos Cordeiro was the best option when they thought about who was best for youth soccer in Maryland and in the United States, also stating that he was the candidate who could most likely deliver a World Cup hosting bid for the United States in 2026. They made sure to stress that they seriously considered every candidate, and their decision was extremely difficult, however they went with Cordeiro, who Virginia Youth Soccer Association also sided with.

The 2018 USSF Presidential Campaign has come to a close, with Carlos Cordeiro elected as the next President of US Soccer.

But Wait, There’s More…

Baltimore USL

While in the lobby, I ran into a USL representative who could be considered EXTREMELY reliable. I asked if they had heard any updates about the potential for Baltimore as a USL city, they even said they had seen our petition which was pretty humbling.

I was able to confirm that an announcement would be coming in the next 60 days, with an ownership group approved. The only hold-up is the stadium announcement, which was coming along and apparently a few potential locations are currently being considered.

We both seemed extremely excited about the near future as it relates to USL coming to Baltimore, which looks to be finally becoming a reality after years of speculation. Extremely good news for Baltimore soccer!

Family Business

I just got done watching Jermaine Jones’ epic Instagram rant against MLS and their close relationship with the USSF, and the main point that he tried to get across to everyone was “if you see something that doesn’t make sense, or doesn’t seem to add up, speak out against it.”

Jermaine Jones is a guy who played for 11 different clubs in his 18-year pro playing career. He’s someone who I’ve followed (and covered) dating back to his days at Schalke when there were talks of him potentially switching from Germany to The United States because of a falling out with the coach… or federation… I don’t remember which, because the incredibly-talented CDM who made 69 appearances and always came up clutch for the Stars and Stripes seemed to usually having a falling out with someone.

Not that it’s always a bad thing… some might call him outspoken, others might call him passionate.

One thing he seemed genuinely passionate about tonight after his first IG Live post caused more than a few ripples the first time around back in October, was the huge problem that United States soccer fans are seemingly ignoring: USSF’s close relationship with Major League Soccer.

Let’s ignore Pro/Rel, whether we need more players in Europe, Cyle Larin transfer fees and normal soccer banter over the past 4 months and jump straight to the point….

Kathy Carter will more than likely be elected as the next US Soccer Federation’s president, and what ultimately pushed her over the edge were votes from the athlete’s council, as many have Tweeted about and speculated.

Hope Solo Tweeted Julie Foudy two days ago, asking her if she organized a call with “select” athletes.

So did you not organize a call last week with select, but not all, former players as well as current players and athlete council members advocating for the status-quo Kathy Carter?

Which Foudy replied:

I did organize call. But wasn’t to talk about candidates. Sorry to disappoint. It was about the power of the athletes council. And how to best utilize that power.

Well it appears that they are fully utilizing that power, because many believe that the call was to “suggest” that current and ex-athletes would be better off (professionally) with Carter as their vote for President. Kathy Carter has a close relationship with Wasserman Media Group, which many also believe have been using political influence to persuade voters to choose Carter.

It’s fair to say that Wasserman Media Group has a strong political influence in the soccer community, and despite whatever went down on that call, it’s becoming apparent that it’s very likely that Wasserman is putting pressure on others to vote for Carter. Many believe that a call went down, and thanks to Julie herself confirming it (we’re not saying Foudy is involved, Foudy isn’t a Wasserman client, but the agency does represent a number of on-air personalities and television is something Wasserman is very involved in) I believe that it’s now on them to provide the notes from the call, and provide “transparency” and “change” and “leadership” and all of those other annoying buzzwords floating around campaigns that make you want to throw your phone in the closest container holding a liquid.

Oh, and Wasserman also represents Bruce Arena.

Yes, seriously, Bruce Arena.

bruce arena

So when Jermaine Jones says that MLS is the problem, and you start remembering comments from Coach Arena during qualifying  “I’d like to see some of those European hotshots come over here and try to qualify in CONCACAF” and leaving Fabian Johnson off of the roster, continually suggest that MLS players are our best option, and rely on players like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore and a host of other MLS veterans (I’m not going to the work of researching what agent represents every USMNT player, but I’m sure there are some from Wasserman) and it makes you wonder….does the USSF have US Soccer’s best interest at heart, or do they have MLS’s best interests at heart?

Is ANY OF THIS going to make us a stronger soccer country? Or are we going to turn into a country like Argentina where Messi was willing to retire from the National Team because of the politics and corruption involved in his country’s Federation?

As if it’s not a bitter enough pill to swallow that an “independent commission to review US Soccer” would be lead by a sports agent which represents the higher majority of MLS players and has numerous ties to television, events like the Olympics and a World Cup bid, etc. but you also look at known facts like:

We mentioned in a Tweet that I have spoken to an attorney who is familiar with the USSF Presidential campaign about how USSF could lose their tax-exempt status if Carter was voted as the next USSF president. While this is simply a hypothetical, I believe it still raises the OBVIOUS question of “conflict of interest”.

So if Wasserman is the new chief wahoo of this new “commission” to change US Soccer, and if I sound skeptical of the likelihood that this commission will actually yield any results on how to produce the next Neymar than I assure you, they are genuine, then where does the pencil thin – wait, no, I meant extremely thick, big ol’ magic marker-sized- line of “conflict of interest” come into play?

-Sports agent takes over as head of commission.

-Sports agent’s players benefit monetarily….NOT as a result of Wasserman’s involvement, I’m not painting conspiracy theories, but I’m just saying that over time, like every other athlete, they become more marketable, they’re getting higher contract offers,etc.

-Sports agent, who is now involved with USSF, makes more money as a result, so how is that not a conflict of interest?

But here’s the thing that someone with a lot clearer understanding of how IRS and tax-exempt laws work than I do pointed out. USSF is setup as a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit, and according to the IRS:

A section 501(c)(3) organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator’s family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of a section 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization.

Once again, this is all copy and paste on my end, I am not a lawyer and I have no idea where that thick, 200pixel-wide line of “conflict of interest” is crossed… I’m just listening to Jermaine Jones and speaking out if something doesn’t add up, and all of this just doesn’t add up for me.