Carlos Cordeiro, an Insider, Is Elected President of U.S. Soccer

Carlos Cordeiro, an Insider, Is Elected President of U.S. Soccer

In a speech before the voting, Cordeiro made the case that he has both the experience necessary to run the organization and the independence to deliver the change clearly desired by U.S. Soccer members.

“Today the status quo is unacceptable,” he said. “U.S. Soccer needs to change. Transformational change. The vote comes down to one simple question: Who can actually deliver that change?”

No candidate received the required 50 percent plus one vote necessary to win on the first two ballots. Cordeiro received 36 percent of the vote in the first round, followed closely by Kathy Carter, who runs the marketing arm of Major League Soccer, at 35 percent. Then came Eric Wynalda and Kyle Martino, who both played professionally and are now broadcast analysts, with 14 and 9 percent, respectively.

Drawing a tiny amount of support were Paul Caligiuri, another former professional; Michael Winograd and Steven Gans, who are both lawyers, and Hope Solo, the longtime goalie for the women’s national team.

In the second round, Cordeiro’s total went up to 42 percent and Carter’s fell to 33. At that point, Major League Soccer switched its votes to Cordeiro, setting the stage for his victory in the third round, when he received a commanding 69 percent. Clearly emotional over his victory, he thanked the other candidates “for a spirited campaign” and made a pitch for postelection unity.

The vote took place at U.S. Soccer’s annual general meeting, which is normally a staid affair that generates little to no interest outside the constituencies — state associations, youth and adult soccer programs and former players — that make up the electorate. During most election years, there isn’t much reason for outsiders to attend; Gulati, for instance, ran unopposed in each of his three elections.

But the World Cup elimination, the large field of candidates and the angry tone of the race drew quite a bit of outside interest this year. More than two dozen news media members were credentialed for this year’s meeting, including a number of television networks.

The voting was conducted in a conference room at the Renaissance Orlando SeaWorld, with each candidate given five minutes to make a final pitch to the voters.

In all, there were 573 eligible voters in the weighted balloting. The professional, youth and adult councils each made up 25.7 percent of the vote; the athletes council made up 20 percent; and a smattering of individuals, including life members, the board of directors and even fan voters, made up the remaining 3 percent.

Each voter was given an electronic keypad to make his or her selection, and the first round had to be conducted a second time because of technical problems.

Although M.L.S. 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.

“With all the conversations going on about U.S. Soccer and all the different ideas, vitriol and the campaigns that have been run, I think it was more important than ever that we showed as an athletes group that we were united, and I think that makes a big statement,” said Stuart Holden, a former national team player and athletes council member.

Cordeiro became the president immediately, and he will have little time to settle into the role. The combined United States-Canada-Mexico bid to host the 2026 World Cup is due in a month; a men’s national team coach needs to be hired; technical directors will probably be hired for the national teams; and the federation is a defendant in a number of lawsuits.

Cordeiro’s term as vice president ran through 2020. It isn’t yet known whether a special election to replace him will be held soon, or during next year’s annual meeting.

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