U.S. Soccer Facing Questions About Future Leadership, Gulati's Re-Election Efforts
FC Dallas President Dan Hunt said U.S. Soccer needs to "do a better job of producing American talent" in the wake of the U.S. failing to qualify for the '18 FIFA World Cup, according to Rick Gosselin of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Hunt said of the USMNT, "We were missing a gigantic core group of players in that 24-29 range -- players in the prime of their careers." He added, "This is absolutely personal for me. I don't like it at all. It makes me sick. I'm sick for everyone -- the players who worked so hard, the coaching staff, and I'm sick for fans of the game in this country." Hunt said if he and his brother, FC Dallas Chair & CEO Clark Hunt "don't take it personally, then maybe a lot of folks will blow this off and say, 'We'll shoot for four years from now.'" Dan Hunt: "The process starts today. We're going to have to really continue to push the envelope. We have a great generation of players coming up -- kids that are 15-20. What are we going to do to accelerate their development to get them ready for 2022? That's incumbent on all professional leagues -- the MLS, USL, NASL -- to play a part in this exercise. We need to make sure we're in the tournament for 2022 and, hopefully, if we host it again in this country (in '26)" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/16).
GUNNING FOR THE THRONE: In Boston, Stephen Hewitt notes the U.S. failing to qualify for the World Cup was "further confirmation" of what local attorney Steve Gans "has long believed: Change is needed at the top of the U.S. Soccer Federation, and he’s the man for the job." Gans last month "officially announced his candidacy" to replace Sunil Gulati as U.S. Soccer President. He played soccer at Brandeis Univ. before a "short stint professionally for a Baltimore indoor club," and he "believes his background makes him suited for the U.S. Soccer presidency." He has "confidence he can unseat" Gulati. Gans: "People have to imagine a world without him leading U.S. Soccer, and I think after Tuesday night, as terrible as it was, the feedback I’m getting is that people surely can imagine a world without him, so I think the chances are very good" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/18). Meanwhile, BLEACHER REPORT's Leander Schaerlaeckens reported NBC soccer analyst Kyle Martino "seriously considered" running for USSF President before deciding against it. Gulati was not the "biggest hurdle standing in Martino’s way," as the "far bigger issue is the salary paid" to the position: zero. Martino also would have to "leave NBC to kick off a presidential campaign" because one of the "key points of his would-be platform is to root out the conflicts of interest within the federation, which mingles its business" with MLS and Soccer United Marketing. Martino "can’t afford not to bring home a paycheck." He could potentially "convince the federation’s board to make the presidency a paid position if he were to win," but the uncertainty is "too great for him" (BLEACHERREPORT.com, 10/17).
SHOULD HE STAY? SI.com's Grant Wahl spoke to former U.S. Soccer Presidents Alan Rothenberg and Bob Contiguglia and former Real Salt Lake Owner Dave Checketts about Gulati's future. Rothenberg said, "Where matters stand now, I don’t see any better candidate even remotely extant. Therefore, (Gulati) should run. If somebody from the outside with tremendous credentials should appear, I might have to take a second look at it." Contiguglia said that he "thought Gulati had done a good job overall running the U.S. Soccer board and that he should continue." Checketts said, "Sunil should remain involved. I hope he does remain involved. But I would challenge him now to consider stepping aside so that someone else could give it a try. I think (U.S. Soccer) needs a different direction" (SI.com, 10/17).