U.S. Soccer's Gulati Promises Everything Under Review, But Won't Resign From Role
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said that he "understood American soccer fans were angry and frustrated -- infuriated, really" -- at the USMNT's failure to qualify for the '18 FIFA World Cup, but does "not plan to follow" recently resigned coach Bruce Arena out the door, according to Andrew Das of the N.Y. TIMES. Gulati said, "I take full responsibility. No, I don't plan to resign." The full cost of the USMNT's failure to qualify "may not be known for years." But Gulati said that everything was "up for review: player development programs, coaching education, facilities, the role of college soccer in development." Gulati, in response to a question about whether he deserved a new term as USSF President, said, "I don't think that's a decision you or I get to make. That's a decision that people who get to vote make." Gulati added that he would "decide 'in the coming weeks' about a potential candidacy." Asked if he understood why fans might prefer someone else to lead the USSF, Gulati said, "I can understand the frustration of people, sure." But in a "steady voice during a 39-minute conference call on Friday, Gulati also gave clear hints that he planned to be a part of that future." Gulati said on why he was not resigning, "We've got a lot of things on our agenda, including a World Cup bid that is due in the end of March, and a decision in June. And so I don't plan to do that" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/14). In Houston, Corey Roepken noted Gulati also "referenced his overall resume when asked to explain why he should keep his job." Gulati: "If I look at the totality of where we've come from and where the game is generally now with our professional leagues, with player development and with our economic resources, those things didn't happen overnight, and they didn't happen on their own" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/14).
NEW DIRECTION NEEDED: In San Diego, Mark Zeigler wrote during Friday's conference call that "amounted to a campaign speech," Gulati "refused to resign and sheepishly admitted he has asked federation members to nominate him for a fourth four-year term in February's election." Gulati has "always fancied himself as the smartest guy in the room and let you know it" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/14). ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle wrote Gulati's comments during the conference call were "littered with contradictions." Carlisle: "Clearly, it's time for someone else to run the federation." Without question, the process by which the USMNT coach is chosen "needs to be revamped." Gulati "sounded like a man trying to find a justification for his continued role at the USSF." He also "sounded dreadfully out of touch at times" (ESPNFC.com, 10/14). In L.A., Kevin Baxter wrote Gulati "made clear he's not going anywhere -- at least not willingly." It is "not so much that Gulati's time has passed as it is that Gulati has spent too much time in charge." It is "not so much that Gulati's ideas are bad as it is that many of them have already been tried." Baxter: "And some of them have failed. Now it's time to give new blood and new vision a chance" (LATIMES.com, 10/14).
NO REAL PROGRESS MADE: In N.Y., Brian Phillips wrote the "kind of progress Gulati seems to value most is corporate, institutional, political." He "cares about sponsorships, shoring up organizational foundations." He has "done wonders" for U.S. Soccer's standing within FIFA. But he has had "less success improving quality of play, both at the top of the game and at the youth level" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/15). YAHOO SPORTS' Leander Schaerlaeckens wrote under the header, "Sunil Gulati's U.S. Soccer Will Assess Everything But Gulati Himself." If not now, when do fans "ask how key hiring decisions are made -- that the president of U.S. Soccer signs off on by himself?" If not now, when do fans "question such a top-heavy governance?" Or the process by which the "steady decline of a national team is rationalized for year after year?" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/13). In San Jose, Elliott Almond wrote after two decades with a "growing domestic league," the U.S. "remains a middling soccer country" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 10/13).