U.S. Soccer Federation VP Carlos Cordeiro on Saturday was elected president of the governing body, "prevailing after three rounds of voting at the organization’s annual meeting," according to Kevin Draper of the N.Y. TIMES. The decision was a "surprisingly straightforward end to a three-month campaign marked by dueling visions, whispered rumors, personal attacks and impassioned last-minute lobbying." Cordeiro has been a board member of the USSF since '07, "serving on a variety of committees." Draper noted no candidate received the required 50% plus one vote "necessary to win on the first two ballots." Cordeiro received 36% of the "vote in the first round," followed closely by Soccer United Marketing President Kathy Carter at 35%. Then came Eric Wynalda and Kyle Martino with 14% and 9%, respectively. In the second round, Cordeiro’s total went up to 42% and Carter’s fell to 33%. At that point, MLS "switched its votes to Cordeiro, setting the stage for his victory in the third round," when he received 69%. Although MLS voters "switched from Carter to Cordeiro after the second ballot, the election was ultimately decided by the athletes council." After narrowing its list of preferred candidates to Cordeiro, Carter and Martino, the group "spent seven hours in discussions on Saturday before choosing to vote as a bloc for Cordeiro" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/11). SOCCER AMERICA's Paul Kennedy noted the Athlete Council's vote was the "counterweight" to Carter's support from MLS and the NWSL and "swung the election." If they had voted for Carter, she would have "won easily on the first ballot." Even a split of the vote between Carter and Cordeiro would have given Carter such a "huge advantage that she would have likely won on the second ballot" (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 2/11). Kennedy noted as the results of the second ballot were announced, it was "clear the two polarizing candidates -- Carter and Wynalda -- had ... hit their ceilings." Paul Caligiuri "dropped out after the first ballot," and Michael Winograd and Steve Gans "withdrew after the second ballot" (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 2/11).
A BIG ASSIST: ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle noted it was around midnight Friday when the Athlete Council, which had been "meeting off and on for seven hours, finally adjourned." The council met around 1:00pm ET Friday and "had meetings" with outgoing USSF President Sunil Gulati, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani. Hope Solo, one of the other candidates, said that she felt the council was "influenced by outside forces." Council member Brian Ching, "not surprisingly, refuted that notion." By the time the meetings were done, "only an hour was left to have an actual discussion about the candidates," so the Council "agreed to meet for dinner and resume talks later in the evening." The "tough conversations" started around 9:00pm. That included "not only deciding what candidate was strongest, but also whether to vote as a bloc." Ultimately, the decision "came down to experience and the extent to which they felt someone could make the necessary changes the federation needs" (ESPN.com, 2/10). SI.com's Grant Wahl noted everyone knew coming into Saturday that the Professional Council, which includes MLS, the NWSL, USL and NASL, was "almost unanimously in support of Carter." But the Athlete Council "was undecided." Wahl: "Why did the athletes go with Cordeiro and not, say, a former athlete?" Holden said, "Getting behind Carlos Cordeiro as a candidate, we felt (better) with his skill set to be able to change some of the governance, to be transparent, to be open to working with different groups and still have international relations and the business side." He added, "I was just impressed by Carlos’s ideas. And I loved that he was vulnerable in saying that he’s not the smartest soccer guy in the room and he wants to find the smartest soccer guys" (SI.com, 2/10). Holden: "A number of these athletes brought some phenomenal ideas and their passion really shone through, and that’s why I hope a number of them stay involved in the federation, get involved in some of these board-level (positions), potentially run for vice president" (PROSOCCERUSA.com, 2/10).
SPEAKING HER MIND: YAHOO SPORTS' Henry Bushnell noted Solo on Saturday during her pre-election speech "didn't hold back." Solo said, "I was a player for nearly 20 years, and I saw first hand what Carlos Cordeiro’s idea of change is. You cannot, as a vice president, claim that you are the lone voice of change while all of this happens under your watch. And you, as delegates, cannot buy that. He was part of a federation that generated millions of dollars on the backs of its players, and much of it on the backs of its women’s players, who have been the economic engine in this federation for years, yet treated like second-class citizens." She added, "He was part of a federation that could have been the first in the history of the sport to pay its women equally. Instead, that honor goes to Norway while the U.S. women, the most successful team ever, has to force it through the court system." Solo: "For 10 years, Carlos Cordeiro was in a position to create change. And he did nothing. He failed me. He failed my teammates. And he failed the women of the NWSL." Solo then apparently "gave Cordeiro, the next speaker, a hug as she walked off stage" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/10). SOCCER AMERICA's Kennedy noted Wynalda "took on a more conciliatory tone in his five-minute speech to the membership before the vote." Wynalda said, "The fight stops now. And not until we stop fighting with each other and start fighting together are we going to be a soccer nation and are we going to be able to achieve and realize our potential" (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 2/11).
TWITTER REAX: ESPN's Sebastian Salazar tweeted, "Cordeiro did excellent job convincing voters he could be 'change agent' despite #USSF background & that #USSFPresident voters aren't as interested in change as everyone on twitter." Goal.com's Ives Galarcep: "He overcame the stigma of being labeled 'status quo' and realistically he is the best equipped to handle the job, and most importantly, to learn from Sunil Gulati's mistakes. He has a BIG job ahead of him." ESPN's Ian Darke: "Doesn’t feel like a wind of change appointment - but let’s see." Soccer site Breaking The Lines: "His win signals a prolongation of the disease that has plagued this country and its federation: money over progress." MLS' Garber: "We have enjoyed a productive relationship with Carlos in his time as a U.S. Soccer board member during the last 11 years."