With the shocking failure of the USA Men's National Team to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, frustrations are running right to the top of the country's national governing body - US Soccer. Head Coach, Bruce Arena, already resigned last month after the team's disappointing performance in its final game where even a draw against Trinidad & Tobago would have sent the Americans to next year's FIFA World Cup in Russia. The next battle line may be shaping up around the future of US Soccer itself as long time president Sunil Gulati is under pressure and whether he runs for another term is suddenly in questions.
The race to become the next leader of U.S. Soccer took an unexpected twist on Wednesday, as Carlos Cordeiro -- the vice president of U.S. Soccer and a longtime friend and colleague of the current president, Sunil Gulati -- has entered the campaign for the top job himself. Codiero was a loyal supporter of Gulati previously and signaled that he would only run for the top spot if Gulati decided to step away. Without such an announcement, Cordiero's announcement now brings questions about whether there is now a riff between them that Cordiero will challenge Gulati or conversely that Gulati has signaled behind the scenes that he would be stepping away.
Cordeiro, first elected to the U.S. board as its first independent director in 2006, has worked closely with Gulati as Gulati's soccer role has expanded. Gulati serves on the FIFA Council and is chairman of the 2026 United Bid Committee on which Cordeiro is a board member.
Cordiero has launched a campaign around a growth strategy for the sport in the United States, given its strong base of support, sponsors, and opportunities. A portion of his platform revolves around the USA's previous intent to bring back the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1994. Cordeiro, a former partner and managing director at Goldman Sachs, believes US Soccer needs think bigger and more of a business than a governing body, and suggested he would aim to increase its budget from around $100 million annually to something closer to $500 million by 2027.
The race for the top spot is suddenly getting crowded. Steven Gans, a Boston attorney who has advised youth clubs and several English Premier League teams, has voiced his intention to run. Former men's national teamer and FOX analyst Eric Wynalda also has expressed interest in the job. Paul Lapointe, someone who has become a key influencer from the lower levels of American soccer leagues staged a lower-key candidacy for the position. Landon Donovan, the former star MLS and leader of the national team star, is reportedly considering a run, although nothing has been announced yet. Gulati himself has also not expressed his intentions yet.
With multiples candidates lining up, the challenges could create a divisive atmosphere and it will be curious to see how it all shakes out in the coming weeks.