Our Indy 11 have added some well known and loved players in the last few days as the roster begins to take shape with just 6 weeks until the new USL season kicks off. Brad Ring and Ben Speas are back on the roster along with a bunch of new guys. The Schedule is still coming along – interesting to see some 12 noon Saturday games sliding in. Not sure that is going to fill the new setting at the Luke. I am excited for the Wed night, May 2 7 pm match-up with FC Cincy – though I am not sure why they aren’t playing that game on a weekend when folks can travel and they could possibly filled the house? Not sure I am getting this so far – we’ll see.
Indiana well-represented at 2018 MLS SuperDraft
Given that Indiana, Butler and Notre Dame all played in the NCAA Men’s Soccer tourney with IU losing 1-0 in extra time to Stanford, it comes as no surprise that the three schools were well-represented during the first round of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft last weekend in Philadelphia. Indiana forward Mason Toye was selected 7th overall by Minnesota United FC. Toye was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2017 after scoring 10 goals in 25 games to lead the Hoosiers. Notre Dame Men’s Soccer forward Jon Gallagher was selected 14th overall by Atlanta United FC. Gallagher led the Irish with 13 goals in 20 appearances in 2017. Of course former Carmel Dad’s and Carmel High Goalkeeper – Butler goalkeeper Eric Dick was selected 13th overall by Sporting Kansas City. With his selection, Dick became the highest-drafted Butler player in program history. He was named the 2017 Big East Goalkeeper of the Year while also earning All-Big-East first team honors. Also locally – former Carmel Dad’s Club player and Guerin Basketball star Cam Lindley was traded and signed by the Fire to Orlando City. Lindley was ACC Midfielder of the Year • First Team All-ACC • MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist and he Led the team in total points with 27 and while scoring seven goals and 13 assists in his sophomore season at North Carolina.
Looking at the games this weekend and next week we start with Champions League Sweet 16 returning Tues/Wed on Fox Sports 1 & 2. Back to back finalist Juventus and legendary goalkeeper Buffon host EPL squad Tottenham on Tuesday 2:45 pm on Fox Sports 1, while Man City travels to Basel same time on FS2. Wednesday is the SHOWDOWN as PSG and Neymar along with former Real midfielder Angel Di Maria travel to a struggling Real Madrid at 2:45 on FS1. Portugal champ Porto hosts Liverpool in the other game on FS2 same time. (Anyone up for gathering to watch??) I like Juve, Man City, Liverpool and I think PSG to Advance. (I WILL UPDATE WITH FULL PREVIEWS BY MONDAY AFTERNOON BEFORE THE GAMES START ONLINE)
Saturday brings us the North London Darby – with Tottenham hosting the revamped Arsenal at 7:30 am on CNBC. Later US defender Geoff Cameron and Stoke City host Brighton at 10 am on CNBC, while US Star Pulisic and German 2nd place team Dortmund host Bobby Wood and Hamburger at 9:30 am on FS2. Man City and Leicester City wind up the day Sat with a 12:30 match on NBC. Sunday we get New Castle and US Deandre Yedlin at 9;15 am on NBCSN, while Barca travels to Getafe at 10:15 am on beIN Sport and Southhampton hosts Liverpool at 11:30 am on NBCSN.
Of course the vote for a new US soccer president comes this weekend – at the national coaches convention – I have really tried to stay clear of this – I am not sure who I like. (see stories below) But whoever wins has a lot of work in front of them – as things in US soccer are a bit disjointed to say the least right now. Carmel FC – folks – the CFC Spirit Items and Uniforms for Spring Players order link is open NOW!
GAMES ON TV
Fri, Feb 9
Butler & Former Carmel High goalie Eric Dick selected in MLS Draft
January 23, 2018
Eric Dick protects the net for the Bulldogs last season. Dick was the 13th overall pick of the MLS draft on Jan. 19. Collegian file photo.
JOSHUA DOERING | ASST. SPORTS EDITOR Butler Collegian | firstname.lastname@example.org
It was supposed to be a day Eric Dick would remember for the rest of his life. On Jan. 19, the former Butler goalie was selected as the 13th pick in the 2018 Major League Soccer Superdraft by Sporting Kansas City.He almost missed the whole thing. His flight to Baltimore was delayed. It took almost another two hours to drive to Philadelphia, where the draft took place.By the time he finally got there, the draft was in progress and the room was full. Dick had to explain who he was to even get in.Less than half an hour later, he walked across the stage and shook MLS commissioner Don Garber’s hand.“Quite honestly, I blacked out a little bit, just in shock,” Dick, who was born near Kansas City, said. “I walked up there, I was all smiles, obviously. This is a dream come true and honestly unexpected. Very, very unexpected.”Coming into the draft, Dick said he had no idea Sporting Kansas City was interested. They watched him play with Butler, as well as with the Oklahoma City Energy U-23 team in the Premier Development League over the summer.“They do their research, I guess,” Dick said. “I think that’s why they really played it close to their chest and really didn’t interview me because I guess they saw enough through that.”After redshirting the 2013 season, he played in 71 of a possible 77 games for the Bulldogs, conceding only 68 goals. The Bulldogs made NCAA tournament appearances in 2016 and 2017 with Dick in net. In his final season at Butler, Dick was named a team captain, and helped lead the Bulldogs to their first Big East regular season championship and advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. He was named a United Soccer Coaches first team All-American and Big East Goalkeeper of the Year.“I haven’t met a better shot stopper, better leader, better man who has been so passionate about the game of soccer,” Eric Leonard, who played all four seasons at Butler with Dick, said.Prior to the draft, Dick participated in the MLS combine from Jan. 11 through Jan. 17. The combine consists of interviews, physical testing and full-field scrimmages so MLS teams can better evaluate players.He is the first Bulldog picked in the opening round of the MLS draft since Zach Steinberger in 2015, who currently plays for Jacksonville Armada of the North American Soccer League.Since entering the MLS in 1996, the Kansas City franchise has won two MLS Cups and four U.S. Open Cups.Of those six championships, four came under current head coach Peter Vermes, who took over the team in 2009. Sporting Kansas City has qualified for the MLS playoffs seven consecutive seasons.Dick said he will probably spend the 2018 season training with Sporting Kansas City and also play with their reserve team, Swope Park Rangers. Swope Park Rangers play in the United Soccer League, the second tier of American soccer.“It was a relief,” he said. “You know, it was all emotions. All good, but all emotions.”Dick and the rest of Sporting Kansas City start their 2018 campaign at home against New York City Football Club on March 4.“They are getting one of the most unique personalities I’ve ever met and just a freak of a goalie,” Jared Timmer, Dick’s teammate at Butler, said. “That’s what Sporting Kansas City is getting.”
Who will win the USSF presidential election on Feb. 10? (updated)
4:27 PM ETJeff CarlisleSoccer
- The most contentious U.S. Soccer Federation presidential election in recent memory has reached the homestretch. This Saturday, the USSF’s National Council will gather in Orlando and vote who will lead the organization for the next four years. The only certainty is that it won’t be current president Sunil Gulati, who declined to run for re-election.
Hoping to succeed him are eight candidates: Half are former professional players, while the backgrounds of the other four lean more toward the business side. There are establishment candidate and rank outsiders, which makes for a fragmented and fluid vote that seems destined to go to multiple ballots.
We reviewed their progress back in December but, with under a week to go, here’s a look at the candidates and their respective chances of victory. (And if you want to know exactly how the election works, click here.)
Chances of winning: 25 percent (up from 23) | Q&A
Carter is among those who view the position of president as less of an executive position and more of a chairperson of the board, and she wants to open up the bid process for marketing partners. She wants to bring more diversity to executive-level positions within the USSF and create a technical department to manage on-field aspects, including the hiring of coaches. She wants to go “all-in” on the women’s game and stabilize the NWSL. Perhaps most controversially, Carter wants to form an independent commission, headed by sports executive Casey Wasserman, to examine every aspect of player development.
Carter enters the final days of the race with a built-in base of support from MLS, whose delegates comprise 14.5 percent of the vote. Her challenge remains convincing voters outside of that core support that she is the best candidate to lead the USSF forward. Carter has managed to pick off a few state associations, but the athletes council, which traditionally votes as a bloc and accounts for 20 percent of the vote, will have a huge say as to her chances of success.
Update: It appears that Carter is gaining a bit of separation. ESPN FC can confirm an SI.com report that the three votes from the NWSL (4.6 percent of the total weighted vote) will go for Carter. There are still questions as to whether the bloc-vote strategy of the Athletes Council will actually be adopted but if that approach is taken, a single ballot election — once thought to be highly unlikely — could occur with Carter the beneficiary. If not, that means multiple ballots and more uncertainty given the number of moving parts.
Chances of winning: 23 percent | Q&A
Cordeiro wants to engage in a considerable restructuring of the USSF, which starts with making the office of president more a chairperson of the board role, with the incumbent working more collaboratively with the board of directors. Cordeiro wants to create a new technical department to oversee all on-field aspects, including the hiring of coaches. He wants to appoint an independent USSF board member to oversee the awarding of future commercial rights contracts. And Cordeiro seeks to make the game more affordable for players and coaches by increasing scholarships and grants.
In terms of his chances, Cordeiro is considered to be among the favorites. As a sitting USSF vice president, he is more of an establishment candidate but carries less baggage than Carter and will provide a level of comfort to those leaning toward a more business-oriented candidate.
Chances of winning: 19 percent (up from 17) | Q&A
Martino’s platform consists of three planks. The first involves making the USSF more transparent, while making the presidency a paid position. He is also emphasizing equality, which includes making the game more accessible for kids from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as better treatment of the women’s national team. The third is titled “Progress” and includes clarifying the youth player path, creating an environment for more collaboration among the various youth soccer stakeholders, as well as a gradual path towards implementing a system of promotion/relegation at the pro level.
Martino has made some headway in the last month and his tactic of taking on establishment candidates has broadened his appeal to a degree. The sense among delegates that ESPN FC has spoken to is that he has moved into the top tier of candidates.
Update: Martino’s momentum is continuing but he absolutely must secure the votes on the Athletes Council to have any shot of winning. He may also be viewed as a compromise candidate for those disinclined to vote for Carter or Cordeiro.
Chances of winning: 18 percent | Q&A
Wynalda is the champion of the anti-establishment wing, advocating for — among other things — a path to promotion and relegation, moving MLS to a winter calendar, renegotiating the CBA for the U.S. women’s national team, and securing a media rights deal similar to that proposed by MP & Silva back in September. He wants to use an endowment fund to make the game more affordable for coaches and players, as well as educate parents new to the game. And Wynalda wants the relationship with SUM to be “thoroughly vetted and reviewed” to make sure that the USSF is maximizing its take from commercial rights deals.
Wynalda’s campaign had been gaining some momentum among voters on the adult and youth councils, but that seems to have stalled in recent weeks. That said, in a crowded field with a fragmented electorate, he remains a force in the race.
Update: Now hearing that Wynalda’s slide has abated. Whether that’s wishful thinking or a last spasm of support is still difficult to tell.
Chances of winning: 11 percent (down from 15) | Q&A
While Gans is among the proponents for improved corporate governance, a separate search committee for the next men’s national team coach, and equality and greater support for the women’s game, much of his platform’s focus is on revamping the youth system. He is proposing that the development academy be re-evaluated and wants to use part of U.S. Soccer’s $130 million surplus to make the game more affordable. He wants to solve what he calls “the counterproductive competition” among various youth sanctioning bodies. Gans is also keen to give the state associations at both the youth and adult levels more say in how they are run.
Gans’ advantage heading into the final week is that he has few negatives (if any) and could emerge as a compromise candidate if the election goes to multiple ballots, which seems likely. However, it still looks like he has some ground to make up.
Update: As the race coalesces around Carter and Cordeiro, and perhaps even Martino, it’s becoming more difficult for Gans to make any headway.
Chances of winning: 3 percent | Q&A
Winograd is not of the belief that everything in the system needs to be ripped up. His platform contains three major planks: transparency by which critical decisions are made, addressing the inequities that the women’s national team faces, and tackling the costs affecting coaching education and youth soccer. He also want to take a “fresh look” at youth soccer’s organizational structure on a state-by-state basis. Where Winograd sets himself apart is a novel, non-binary way of implementing promotion/relegation via “guest spots” and guaranteed positions for MLS teams. At the very least, it shows some out-of-the-box thinking.
Despite limited resources, Winograd has been effective in raising his profile and communicating his ideas effectively over the past month. Will he win this election? No, but he just may set the stage for greater involvement in the USSF down the road.
Chances of winning: < 1 percent | Link to Q&A
The planks of Solo’s platform consist of creating a winning soccer culture, pushing for equal pay for the women’s national team and all women in the USSF workplace, addressing the pay-to-play issue in youth soccer and making the game accessible to all. She is pushing for organizational, operational and financial governance transparency. Along the way, Solo has been highly critical of what she described as the USSF’s approach of valuing profits above all else.
Solo has done her best to be a disruptive force in the election. Solo has also been blunt in her belief that the USSF is failing in its mission, going so far as to file a complaint with the U.S. Olympic Committee. That said, she stands next to no chance of winning.
Chances of winning: < 1 percent | Link to Q&A
Caligiuri’s ideas for revamping youth development include creating a performance development task force in every state, as well as youth development training centers at the state and national level. He is also advocating that there be more diversity in the USSF’s ranks, as well as re-establishing links with the amateur game at the adult level. Caligiuri also wants to improve player identification by making more use of the Olympic Development Program and U.S. Club Soccer’s id2 program.
Caligiuri retains considerable name recognition from his time as a player and he does have some intriguing ideas, but, in a crowded field, his candidacy has been unable to get much traction.
Behind the scenes of the U.S. Soccer election7:00 AM ETBruce Schoenfeld, ESPN the Magazine
- hen Sunil Gulati steps to a podium in a Toronto hotel one December morning, Kyle Martino can’t hide his smirk. Nobody knows this man,Martino thinks. Nobody in America has ever seen him on television. Nobody would recognize him if they did. And isn’t that exactly the problem with soccer in this country?
Gulati is the president of the United States Soccer Federation, an elected but unpaid position that he has occupied since 2006. To Martino, a former MLS player who works as a studio analyst on NBC’s English Premier League telecasts, the leader of his sport should be as prominent as the commissioner of the NBA or the NFL. “You know who Roger Goodell is,” he’d insisted earlier that morning. “You know who Adam Silver is. I know who those guys are and I don’t even watch their sports.Standing in the back of the ballroom, on the second floor of the Westin Harbour Castle, his white dress shirt carefully untucked, Martino yearns to be the face of American soccer, albeit an unshaven one. With that in mind, he has taken a leave from his job and sold his stake in a Spanish team to run for USSF president.In front of him, sitting demurely in one of the metal folding chairs facing the podium, another aspiring USSF chief executive stares at Gulati with rapt attention. Kathy Carter, 48, runs Soccer United Marketing, which generates millions of dollars annually for MLS. Considered the establishment’s preferred candidate, she entered the room moments before alongside Gulati and MLS commissioner Don Garber. The rumor circulating the ballroom is that she even flew to Toronto on Garber’s plane, though that turns out to be untrue. It isn’t lost on Martino that he is standing at the back of the room and Carter is sitting at the front of it. “Nobody,” he whispers as the news conference begins, “even told me that this was happening.”Gulati is there to report on the 2026 World Cup bid the United States is mounting in conjunction with Canada and Mexico. He explains that Televisa network, which owns Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, demanded that its country stage the tournament’s opening game, second in prominence only to the final. Gulati refused to commit, he says. Rather, he threatened to withdraw from the bid and leave Mexico and Canada on their own.This, it turns out, is supposed to be a joke. But as if that doesn’t make him seem like enough of a caricature of the entitled American, he adds a punch line that sums up everything that his critics can’t abide about him, despite the sizable advances in many areas that U.S. soccer has made during his USSF tenure. “I told them,” he says, “‘You can’t fly through U.S. airspace.'”veryone in the room is silent.
The USSF hasn’t held a contested election since 1999, but this one is making up for lost time. Besides Martino and Carter, six other aspiring presidents — three former U.S. World Cup players, two lawyers, and the sitting USSF VP — have been trolling constituent groups around the country for votes, which will be tallied at the organization’s convention in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday.This wouldn’t be happening, it is safe to say, if not for perhaps the worst loss in American sports history. Last October, the U.S. men’s national team traveled to the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago, known best for steel drums and the world’s hottest peppers. To secure a place in this summer’s World Cup, the U.S. needed only a draw against players who compete in lower-level American leagues, or for Trinidadian teams with names (W Connection, Club Sando) that sound like somewhere you’d go looking for a hookup on a Friday night.
Forget beating Brazil or Germany this summer in Russia; the U.S. couldn’t get out of CONCACAF, which consists of the nations between Canada and Panama and countries in the Caribbean. Instead, the Americans delighted dragon-slayers everywhere by losing to a country with roughly 1/320th of its population and 1/900th of its GDP. As a result, the U.S. will miss the tournament this summer for the first time since 1986, when the country didn’t even have a league. The estimated financial cost of that failure is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The cost in interest to the sport in America is incalculable.Way back in April, when the most meaningful event in its athletic history was still a twinkle in Trinidad’s eye, a Boston attorney named Steve Gans — who played soccer in college and has helped coach and run youth teams — declared his intention to run against Gulati for the presidency. Back then, the notion of unseating a three-term incumbent seemed fanciful. But the Trinidad loss changed everything. “If we had qualified for the World Cup, do you think any impetus for change would have existed?” Martino says now. “I can tell you that if we had qualified, Sunil would be the president for the next four years. And we would have lost an opportunity to finally elect someone who has a soccer vision.”
But who? In the weeks after the failure to qualify, it became clear that heads would need to roll, and that one of them would be Gulati’s. The Monday before he left for Toronto, Gulati acknowledged that reality with a prepared statement that he would not be a candidate for what would have been his fourth term.And that’s when the free-for-all began.
Given the uncertain state of American soccer, it seems appropriate that the team with home-field advantage in the title game of our national league is Canadian. On this MLS Cup morning, the relationship that each of the major candidates has with the existing power structure can be inferred by his or her physical distance from Gulati, who will finish the World Cup news conference in a few minutes by telling a circle of reporters that most of the candidates running to replace him aren’t up to the job.
As Carter nods and Martino looks pained, Carlos Cordeiro is holding an earnest — if not exactly necessary — conversation in the lobby. Cordeiro is vice chairman of the 2026 bid. He has spent hours helping finalize the details of the complicated, three-nation plan. But he has also acted as Gulati’s right-hand man for the past two years. Desperate to avoid questions about why he declared his candidacy while Gulati was still evaluating his own, uneasy about a public viewing of the complicated state of his friendship with the discredited president, he has created a reason to stay downstairs. He never appears at the news conference.
Now 61, Cordeiro joined the USSF as an independent director in 2007. A former Goldman Sachs executive with a Harvard pedigree, he’s almost never seen without a business suit. His challenge is to distance himself from Gulati while simultaneously defending his role in Gulati’s administration, which is pretty much his only tangible qualification for the position. As someone who hasn’t played in a competitive match or coached a team at any level, he has to fend off accusations from the other candidates that he knows nothing about the sport.
The most vociferous of those candidates is Eric Wynalda, the three-time World Cup participant and former broadcaster. Of all the campaigns, his has been the most visible and voluble, at least to fans who use Twitter or listen to podcasts or walk through airports. A proponent of promotion and relegation, shelving the playoffs, and playing games in domes during the winter, Wynalda is this election’s version of a populist. He’d rather have an intense conversation with someone who disagrees with him, even if that person happens to be a cab driver, than attend an official event. He was conspicuous at the hotel all morning, but now nobody knows where he has gone.
There are three longshot candidates: former standout players Hope Solo and Paul Caligiuri, and the New York lawyer Michael Winograd. They’re so far removed from the center of power that they’re off the radar. And Gans? He’s tending to business back in Boston, monitoring the proceedings in Toronto through texts. If Gulati is the USSF equivalent of Lyndon Johnson, the incumbent who decides under pressure not to run again, Gans is this election’s Eugene McCarthy. He challenged the sitting president when it wasn’t politically expedient, then lost the spotlight to the big names who jumped in as soon as it was. (In this analogy, Martino — handsome, young, articulate, opportunistic — represents Bobby Kennedy. And Cordeiro, the sitting VP, is a spot-on Hubert Humphrey.)
After the news conference, the candidates converge on the lobby, detailing their visions of the soccer universe to anyone who will listen. “It’s arrogant to say that we just had a business guy in there who made a lot of mistakes, so we’re going to put another business guy in there,” says Martino, who is the son-in-law of the actor and progressive political activist Susan Sarandon. He’s talking about Cordeiro, about Carter, maybe about Gans. “Simply by osmosis, businessmen in other countries are soccer guys,” he adds. “That’s not true here.”
Martino pitches his notion of a USSF president who gets paid, as Goodell and Silver do. That will elicit an eye roll from Cordeiro, who points out that the USSF charter gives its president the role of board chairman, not chief executive. Martino, he says, is campaigning for a job that doesn’t exist.Carter’s role as a crucial revenue-producer for MLS would seem to be an impediment to simultaneously running the organization that oversees the league. Martino made that point in a news release when Carter announced her candidacy, which happened the day after Gulati dropped out: timing that seemed suspiciously choreographed. “Except that I do represent change,” she protests now. “I haven’t actually worked inside the federation. I’ve worked on behalf of the federation, but not inside it. I haven’t been in the youth soccer space for 25 years.” She shrugs off the perception that she is Gulati’s anointed successor as misinformation being spread by desperate rivals. “People can take all the shots they want,” she says. “I’m going to stay above it. I appreciate everybody’s passion. Twenty years ago, this all would have been met with indifference.”In a far corner of the lobby in Toronto, where Wynalda and Martino have converged in a conversation with a former Fox executive, such passion has spilled over into unpleasantness. Earlier, Martino confided that Wynalda has been showing disdain for him in interviews, mocking the level of soccer that he managed to achieve during his playing career. That has left Martino in no mood for cordial discussion. When Wynalda admits that he won’t be attending the game that afternoon, in part because he disapproves of the whole concept of a championship game deciding the winner of a domestic league, Martino can’t hide a sneer.”We’ll miss you,” he says.”No, you won’t,” Wynalda replies, smiling.Martino doesn’t smile. “We both know that I won’t,” he says.
You don’t need to own an original Giorgio Chinaglia bobblehead to realize that soccer has evolved differently in the U.S. than everywhere else. By the time that youth soccer started booming in America in the late 1960s, baseball, football, basketball and hockey were established. Their overlapping schedules blanketed the calendar year. Soccer had to wedge itself in, one more passenger pushing into a car that already felt crowded.
So a summer season was adopted to avoid the Super Bowl. Playoffs were created to make fans feel comfortable with the sport. The possibility of relegation or promotion, which motivates ambitious small clubs around the world, was deemed too risky to attract the wealthy investors that a U.S. league required. Expansion franchises were created, then awarded nicknames tested by focus groups. Resources were pooled, profits shared.
All those accommodations, Wynalda believes, has left us with soccer that only vaguely resembles what the world plays. “Being Americans, we felt that we could have a different schedule than the rest of the world, we could have a different plan, and it would magically happen,” he says. “But we’ve never done soccer right in this country.” Wynalda argues that we still haven’t taken the steps to foment a genuine American soccer culture. “If you go to a party, and you walk through the front door, and you walk around the perimeter of the room and you never have a drink and you never talk to anybody, did you really go to the party?” he asks. “We think we’ve been to the party. We haven’t been to the party.”
It isn’t lost on Wynalda that soccer is more popular in the United States now than ever before, by an order of magnitude. Games from half a dozen European leagues fill weekend mornings. MLS is thriving, with expansion hopefuls offering, according to one league owner, “not just $100 million dollars for a team, but hundreds of millions.” The world’s most important clubs, engaged in a pitched battle over the U.S. market, have invested in offices and academies and even shares of franchises. In America, now, soccer matters.
And in soccer, America matters. But walk into an elementary school nearly anywhere in the country and you’ll see far more Manchester United and Barcelona shirts than those of any MLS franchise, or even every MLS franchise put together. Most American fans enjoy the sport by tuning into foreign clubs, maybe shouting out the chants and the songs, then sitting down to two hours of televised entertainment. That makes sense because it’s also the way most Americans access the NFL and NBA; it doesn’t matter, it turns out, if your favorite team is halfway across the state, they country or the world. “I think we’re on the cusp, but we’re still below most other countries,” Cordeiro acknowledges. “But remember, our league is only 20 years old.”
The USSF, on the other hand, has been around since 1913. Until only a few years ago, it was led by well-meaning dilettantes. “When I started,” says Bob Contiguglia, the Denver physician who served as president from 1998 to 2006, “the referee program was run from a shoebox in someone’s basement. We had to borrow money to send the women to the World Cup.” The $12 million budget Contiguglia inherited grew to $52 million by the time he left. Now it’s nudging $150 million. That’s still less than half that of the major European nations, though, and one-third of Germany’s or England’s.
A paid CEO runs U.S. Soccer’s business affairs, but leadership comes from the president. Gulati, a lecturer on economics at Columbia, has guided the organization through its greatest period of growth and advancement: selling out stadiums, pleasing sponsors, making money. Even his strongest critics acknowledge that he deserves much of the credit for the sport’s success over the past decade, including a women’s national team that still ranks as the world’s best, a compelling World Cup bid that seems likely to bring much of the 2026 event to American soil and a development system that is turning out better players at the top of the pyramid than ever before.But that has come, critics say, at the expense of the sport itself. “We are creating technically sound players who have no joy,” Gans says. To him, the USSF-sanctioned academy system, meant to identify and support elite players, is doing more harm than good. “People sitting in some boardroom say, ‘This will make a kid more professional,’ ” he says. “They send down an edict from 30,000 feet. And they couldn’t be more wrong in most of their decisions.”Recently, several of those decisions combined to alienate one of America’s most promising prospects. Eighteen-year-old Jonathan Gonzalez is a California-born midfielder with Mexican parents who plays for a club team in Monterrey. When he was left off the U.S. roster for a recent friendly against Portugal, nobody bothered to give him an explanation. In part because of that, Gonzalez has decided that, for the rest of his international career, he will compete for Mexico. “He obviously didn’t feel enough love from the USSF,” says Gans, who sees it as emblematic of the organization’s emotional disconnect with young players in general and young Hispanic players in particular. “How is it that we lost a kid like that? How could we let that happen?”Growing up in Massachusetts, Gans played until he couldn’t play anymore, getting as far as a trial with the Major Indoor Soccer League’s Baltimore Blast. Then he turned his attention to his sons, one of whom now stars at Brandeis. “You nurture your kids, and they play and play, and you see the joy being taken out of it,” he says recently while watching a match from a bar in Boston, his voice husky with emotion. “And one day, you look up and it’s gone. This passion that my father passed down to me and I passed down to my boys? It’s gone.”Gans snaps back into campaign mode. “There has to be a better way,” he says.
At their home stadium that Saturday evening in December, Toronto FC wins its first MLS title. The game is compelling, as emotional in its way as a top European league’s cup final. There isn’t nearly as much history involved, of course, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the fans shouting in the misty darkness.Afterward, there’s a crush in the hospitality tent, and a long wait for the buses that are shuttling VIPs back to the hotel. Cordeiro arrives with executives from Canadian and Mexican soccer and they prepare to be there awhile. But moments later, Gulati strides in and announces that he has a car. The other two men, who have been working with Gulati for years, stand up to leave. Cordeiro lingers, unsure if the offer applies to him. As he departs, Gulati waves an arm in Cordeiro’s direction, as if to say that even if Cordeiro did declare himself a candidate while Gulati was still considering his own options, he still won’t abandon his former acolyte to trays of half-eaten canapes and grindingly loud music. “Come on,” he says.That night, Cordeiro again holds court in the hotel lobby. Indian-born, like Gulati, but of Portuguese and Colombian descent, he and his three siblings were raised by their mother in Miami after their father died in a car accident. Following business school, he embarked on a career in banking and venture capital, having learned long before to take nothing for granted. A lifelong bachelor, he poured his passion into business. In 2007, he turned to soccer. Before becoming vice president, he was USSF treasurer and chaired its budget committee. He’s also a powerful voice in CONCACAF and FIFA. It’s true that he hasn’t ever worn cleats in a game that matters. But his knowledge of the inner workings of international football is second only to Gulati’s.For two hours, he sips cabernet and connects with USSF delegates who wander past. He’s enough of an insider to know many of them, enough of an innate politician to strike the right notes with each. “There are different presidents for different times,” he says at one point. “Sunil’s emphasis was with the elites. With the exception of this year, that wasn’t bad. And I’m part of that, and I’m proud of it. But when I talk to the grassroots, I can tell you that they feel left behind.”
“We can fix it,” he says. “But it takes leadership. And if we fix our youth, we may well end up with — surprise, surprise — better national teams. That’s how it works.” The relief around the table is almost palpable. For the first time, it seems, someone is giving them a reasonable way out of this mess, a vision familiar enough to feel comfortable, but pointed toward 2026 and beyond.Later, Contiguglia joins the table. Then John Collins, the only board member who doesn’t represent a specific USSF constituency, pulls up a chair. The mood is jovial, less like a sports event than a bunch of business colleagues unwinding after doing a deal. Cordeiro sits at the end of the table, mostly letting others do the talking, looking utterly at ease. It’s getting late, and there’s a USSF committee meeting to attend the next morning.But for now, he flags down the server. There’s still time for one more round.
Christian Pulisic not looking to move to ‘unbelievable’ Premier League
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic has told ESPN FC that he has remained in contact with former teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and that he’s flattered to hear talk of a potential move to the Premier League.The United States international, speaking in London at Nike’s 20th anniversary celebration of the Mercurial boot, has been linked to both Liverpool and Manchester United — his favourite club as a child. And while Pulisic acknowledged that Aubameyang’s decision to leave for Arsenal on transfer deadline day on Jan. 31 was partly fuelled by a desire to reunite with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, he is not mmediately looking to move to England.”Of course, the Premier League is an unbelievable league,” Pulisic said. “You never know in football what can happen, so right now, I’m focused with Dortmund, and yeah, that’s that.”Dortmund are fourth in the Bundesliga and among several clubs chasing the three remaining Champions League spots, with Bayern Munich already 18 points clear of second-place Bayer Leverkusen and Dortmund one point behind them.The 19-year-old said with the transfer window now closed, it will be up to the players to focus on a strong run-in so they can secure qualification for the Champions League.”[The transfer window] was definitely kind of a whirlwind,” Pulisic said. “Every day, you hear something different in the media or whatever, something like that, but now that it’s over, our team has been having kind of a rough go of things lately. So many different coaches in the last few months, but yeah, right now, we’ve just got to turn that around and focus on ourselves.”That will have to be done without Aubameyang, who had frequently been the subject of transfer rumours until Arsenal set a club record with a £56 million move for the Gabon international.
Pulisic said Aubameyang’s presence around the club will be missed — and that the forward was personally responsible for helping Pulisic adjust to life in the Bundesliga.”I think you guys know what type of guy he is,” Pulisic said. “He shows that. But, what I think you guys really don’t know is just how nice of a character he is and how much he cares and how hard he works. I mean, he brought me along so much as a player and helped me and guided me, and he’s been such a great guy. Obviously, we’re sad to lose him, but I’m excited to see what he does.”As someone who has worn Nike’s Mercurial boot his “whole career,” Pulisic was excited to be invited by the company to partake in the anniversary celebration in southeast London.Also among those in attendance was Neymar, who, despite his accolades in recent years, had not achieved the international success that Pulisic has before turning 20.Pulisic said that the comparisons with Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo make him feel “like the luckiest kid in the world,” but that he has been able to put his accomplishments in perspective because of his family and friends.”My family, and just the people around me in my life — you know, my friends, they take care of me, and whenever I’m too high, they bring me right down and when I’m too low, they pick me up,” Pulisic said. “I’ve kind of had a perfect balance of that and I’ve just been able to go through it all with the people I love.”And although missing out on participating in the World Cup this summer with the United States has been difficult, Pulisic said that failure has spurred his motivation to continue to play well going forward.”I’m trying to have a great season — not only for myself, but hopefully, as a team, we can come together and fight for a Champions League spot,” he added. “Of course, [it’s been] disappointing with the national team, but basically, I just kind of want to be a leader for that team and help them grow. Hopefully, we can come a long way and be ready for the next World Cup.”
Report: Bayern Munich Eyes Pulisic, Bailey as Robben, Ribery Replacements
February 08, 2018
undesliga champions Bayern Munich are said to be plotting a shrewd succession plan as they prepare for life without star wide men Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.The pair can still compete at a high level, yet Robben is already 34, while Ribery will be turning 35 in April.According to German source Kicker, the Allianz Arena side have eyed Borussia Dortmund starlet Christian Pulisic and Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey as potential replacements.Pulisic, who has been one of the most impressive youngsters in Europe over the past year-and-a-half or so, is one of Dortmund’s most prized possessions. The 19-year-old American attacker has been at Signal Iduna Park since 2015 and signed a new contract last January, which Dortmund are hoping will keep him in their grasp at least 2021.He was a target for Liverpool last summer, with Jurgen Klopp a huge admirer of his talent, but the German side have been able to hold on to him up until this point.Bailey, meanwhile, joined Leverkusen last year after spending two years in Belgium with Genk. The Jamaican ace is on fire in the Bundesliga this season, having scored eight goals and assisted five in just 14 starts for his club.He is also one of the most sought-out players on the continent and is already valued at £100m, a sum Bayern would certainly frown at.Alternatively, though, the Bavarian giants could continue to groom Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry for the roles. The due have already shown that they have what it takes to shine on the big stage and would save the club a fair amount of cash.
Report: Liverpool Favored Over Man United to Sign Christian Pulisic
By 90MIN February 06, 2018
Mancheter United and Liverpool are set to battle for the signature of in-demand Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic, the Sun have reported.The 19-year-old has also been linked with a move to Bayern Munich, who are likely to compete with the two Premier League clubs in any future transfer dealings.The Sun, however, claim that Liverpool “have been heavily linked with him and remain favorites to make a move”.The Reds still have significant funds remaining from the club record sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona last monthThey have identified Pulisic as an ideal replacement for the Brazilian, although United and Bayern could still thwart their attempts to sign the youngster.The USA international has made 17 starts in the Bundesliga so far this season, scoring three goals and providing two assists.He is under contract with Dortmund until 2020, but interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs could see him face an imminent exit.Pulisic, who has already earned 20 caps for his national team before the age of 20, revealed last month that he was content with life at Dortmund.”I’ve come into a bigger role with the national team in the U.S., but I think the environment I’m in here definitely helps,” he told ESPN. “Just being a good team player with this team, just being a piece of a puzzle is really important for me. I think that has allowed me to have some success with the national team individually. But yeah: I’m still trying to figure it all out.”
Man Utd fan Pulisic refuses to rule out Premier League move
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The Borussia Dortmund midfielder has sparked talk of interest from Old Trafford and admits he could one day join Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in England.Christian Pulisic has admitted to being a Manchester United fan and refused to rule out a move from Borussia Dortmund to the Premier League.The 19-year-old midfielder has emerged as one of the top young talents in world football, with admiring glances being shot in his direction from across Europe.
Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona are among those said to be monitoring his development, while United and Liverpool have been mentioned as possible landing spots in England.
- PULISIC: LEBRON JAMES HAs ALWAYS BEEN A ‘BIG INSPIRATION’
- PULISIC: PAIN OF MISSING RUSSIA WON’T GO AWAY UNTIL I PLAY IN A WORLD CUP
- AMERICAN IN EL CLASICO? PULISIC ‘ONE STEP AWAY’ FROM JOINING LIKES OF BARCELONA AND REAL MADRID
A move to Old Trafford could certainly appeal to the U.S. international, with Pulisic welcoming talk of interest from the Red Devils.Quizzed by ESPN on whether he was a United supporter growing up, the talented teenager said: “Yeah, I was. I was definitely a big fan.“Of course, right now I am under contract with Dortmund and I’m not looking around or doing anything like that so I’m very focused there.“But, yeah, it’s cool to hear all this stuff!”
Pressed further on whether the opportunity to test himself in the Premier League is a challenge he would like to take on at some stage, Pulisic added: “Of course, the Premier League is an unbelievable league.
“You never know in football what can happen, so right now, I’m focused with Dortmund, and yeah, that’s that.”
Pulisic saw former team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang depart Dortmund for England during the recent winter transfer window, with the Gabonese striker joining Arsenal for £55m.
He added on that deal: “He brought me along so much as a player and helped me and guided me, and he’s been such a great guy.“Obviously, we’re sad to lose him, but I’m excited to see what he does.”
Pulisic generated plenty of speculation himself before the January deadline passed, with being the centre of attention a new experience for the youngster.”Every day, you hear something different in the media or whatever, something like that, but now that it’s over, our team has been having kind of a rough go of things lately. So many different coaches in the last few months, but yeah, right now, we’ve just got to turn that around and focus on ourselves.”
With the window closed, Pulisic can focus solely on matters at Dortmund for now, but interest in his services can expect to be rekindled as the summer draws ever closer.
Yedlin: USA’s goal must be to win the World Cup
NEWCASTLE — Wearing a lively floral tracksuit in the height of winter in England’s chilly North East, DeAndre Yedlin is obviously a man who expresses himself freely.Yedlin, 24, had already laughed off banter from his teammates about his Dolce & Gabbana gear from Milan as he sat down to talk exclusively with Pro Soccer Talk at Newcastle United’s snowy training ground ahead of their clash with Manchester United on Sunday (Watch live, 9:15 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) at St James’ Park.Thousands of miles away from his hometown of Seattle and the United States of America, the U.S. national team right back admitted he is still smarting from their shocking failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.That said, when asked what the USMNT’s aim should be in the next decade, a period where he is expected to be a leader on the pitch with 49 caps already to his name, Yedlin was bullish about how the U.S. can bounce back from the biggest disappointment of all.“For me, I want to win the World Cup. If that’s not the goal then I don’t think you should be playing,” Yedlin said. “A lot of people will say that isn’t realistic but for me, I will say ‘why?’ Why isn’t that realistic? Leicester City won the Premier League and nobody thought that could happen but it did. If that’s [winning the World Cup] not the ultimate goal then I think we should reevaluate things.”Wow. Yedlin believes it when he says that the U.S. should be challenging for glory in Qatar in 2022 and potentially on home soil in 2026.For a player who in the space of four years has risen from the Seattle Sounders academy to an MLS star (via two years at the University of Akron) and then on to Tottenham Hotspur before a loan spell at Sunderland in the Premier League and eventually spending the last 18 months at Newcastle, he is in a hurry to get the USMNT back on track.Talking about the pain of the defeat at Trinidad & Tobago back in October 2017 which led to the U.S. failing to make the World Cup for the first time since 1986, Yedlin believes good can come from this and a talented young group can turn it into a positive as they focus on the 2022 World Cup.“100 percent. I wouldn’t call it a blessing in disguise but I think now, especially the guys that have come through it, now we feel what disappointment is like, not making the World Cup,” Yedlin explained. “Now there is going to be an extra gear that is hit to make sure we make the next one but not only make it but do well in it. Nobody wants to feel this way again. It gives us extra motivation but it shouldn’t come to the point where you need to feel that. But that’s what it is and hopefully it helps us.”
With question marks about the experienced USMNT core of Tim Howard, Clint Dempseyand others carrying on for the next four-year World Cup cycle, Yedlin feels like now is a good natural time for the promising young talents of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams et al. to be given their chance to shine for the Stars and Stripes.“I think so and I think those guys realize it as well,” Yedlin admitted. “Every international career is going to come to an end you’re going to pass it down to the younger generation. Every career comes to that point. I think they are happy with doing that and they know we have some talented players coming in.”Given the debates around the current U.S. Soccer Federation presidential election and plenty of questions asked about how U.S. Soccer not only develops, but finds the next crop of talented players in the future, does Yedlin, a player who came through both the MLS academy and college systems, believe there is a problem with talent identification?“I do think players are slipping through the net,” Yedlin said. “It is a situation where we do need to reach out to some of the communities that maybe historically haven’t been as interested in soccer or some of the poorer communities because I think there are kids slipping though the net. Just like there will be in any sport or in any country. I realize it is hard because the USA is such a big country. In that same sense there are that many more kids who could be the next ones who help us reach a World Cup final. You know? I think as big as a country America is, we should start trying to become a powerhouse in this sport.”
What about his own career as he helps Newcastle battle relegation from the Premier League with 12 games to go, aided by their incredible support?Under Rafael Benitez he’s flourished as a title winner in England’s second-tier last season and a regular in the Premier League for the Magpies this season, and he believes playing for a coach lauded for his defensive techniques has helped his game massively.“It is based on what the coach likes and prefers but I think defensively I’ve just gotten a better understanding of when to go, when to stay, how aggressive to be and realizing what is around me,” Yedlin said after he had talked Pro Soccer Talk through, on a tactics board, when to step to engage a winger and when to drop and hold your defensive shape. “It’s the whole understanding of the game which has become better and that comes with maturity and experience.”Jurgen Klinsmann was the man who gave Yedlin his chance with the USMNT and brought him to the 2014 World Cup amid much fanfare and then helped push him to Europe afterwards. Yedlin praised Klinsmann for “getting him to where he is today” but understood why he was fired after the poor set of results at the start of 2018 World Cup qualifying which weren’t all his fault because “the name of the game” is the coach getting fired even though he “can’t press a button and make all the players play well during a game.”Yedlin revealed he hasn’t thought too much about who the next permanent USMNT coach would be, and when asked if Caleb Porter, his former coach at Akron, would be a good fit, he was positive about such an appointment.“It’s not something I’ve thought a lot about but I’ve had Caleb [as a coach] before and I’d definitely be happy with that, but whoever it is I am sure will be a good fit,” Yedlin added.One of just three Americans playing regularly in the Premier League (Danny Williams of Huddersfield and Geoff Cameron of Stoke City being the others) Yedlin isn’t looking too far ahead and revealed he is a serial short term goal-setter.“I have to make a list of a bunch of different things. There is not one thing. I make a lot of lists,” Yedlin smiled. “Every three months I reevaluate my goals and see how I did. They are short term targets and build season to season.”His ultimate goal to win the World Cup during his time with the USA is a lofty one, and at least four years off, but Yedlin, like his tracksuit, is bold and aims to be a leading light in the USMNT’s shot at redemption.
U.S. Soccer’s Election Process Has Featured Everything–Except Any Certainty
GRANT WAHL February 08, 2018ORLANDO, Fla. — The historic campaign for U.S. Soccer president, which will end here with Saturday’s election, has had a bit of everything.It has had the longtime president, Sunil Gulati, decide not to run in the wake of the U.S.’s stunning failure to qualify for the men’s World Cup. It has had eight candidates (eight!) vying to replace him. It has had Gulati’s former right-hand man, USSF vice president Carlos Cordeiro, announce his candidacy before Gulati had exited, a move Gulati viewed as a betrayal.It has had a leading candidate, Kathy Carter, who could become the first woman to serve as U.S. Soccer president (and just the fifth female national soccer federation president ever globally)—but who has faced skepticism about her commitment to women’s soccer from players on the U.S. women’s national team.It has had two lawsuits filed against U.S. Soccer by the lower-division NASL, which may end up folding but still has a vote in the election and is supporting candidate Eric Wynalda—whose campaign has been partially funded by NASL club Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva, who has brought a different case against U.S. Soccer before the international Court of Arbitration for Sport.It has had another candidate—Hope Solo, perhaps the greatest U.S. goalkeeper of all time—bring a formal complaint to the U.S. Olympic Committee over what she calls U.S. Soccer’s illegally favorable treatment of MLS at the expense of women’s soccer. It has had the two most powerful figures in U.S. Soccer (Gulati and MLS commissioner Don Garber) say they were not lobbying for a candidate, only to have one influential voter say he thought Gulati and Garber were lobbying him behind the scenes for Carter.It has had plenty of controversy around Soccer United Marketing, a for-profit company owned by MLS owners, which has made millions for and off U.S. Soccer (a non-profit) on a contract that didn’t involve competing bids—raising questions over conflicts of interest from several candidates and answers from Carter that SUM has been a financial boon for American soccer, a win-win.It has had two charismatic TV analyst former players, Kyle Martino and Wynalda, make explosive allegations against the current federation leadership, not all of them based on evidence. It has had another candidate, the lawyer Steve Gans, make a formal complaint that U.S. Soccer couldn’t be trusted to oversee a fair election process.And it has had far too many Twitter conspiracy theories and mud-slinging allegations, both public and private, with Gulati delivering an acid response—caught on video at a youth soccer dinner, of all places.Yes, there have actually been some productive proposals and discussions, too, which is a good thing for an American soccer culture that needs them. But whoever wins on Saturday will have to mend a fractured soccer landscape. Presumably that will include uniting behind the North American bid to host World Cup 2026, which will almost certainly be decided on June 13 in Moscow. But there’s a lot more to the path forward than hosting a World Cup.
As for Election Weekend, you’ve likely got questions, and we’ve got some (but not all) of the answers. Let’s dive in:
WHO ARE THE CANDIDATES?
Paul Caligiuri, Kathy Carter, Carlos Cordeiro, Steve Gans, Kyle Martino, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd and Eric Wynalda.
All of them, except Solo (who was invited), appeared on the Planet Fútbol Podcast to discuss their platforms and campaigns.
HOW DO YOU WIN?
By getting a majority of the overall weighted vote. The election, which will be live-streamed on U.S. Soccer’s website, is set to start at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday. If no candidate gets a majority of the votes in the first round, a 10-minute break will take place before another round of voting.
The Athlete Council, made up of 20 current and former national team players, has 20 percent of the overall vote. The Professional Council (25.8 percent) and the state associations that make up the Adult Council (25.8 percent) and the Youth Council (25.8 percent) also have a big influence. The remaining votes—around 2.6 percent—will be taken by national associations and affiliates, federation board members, life members (up to 12 votes) and two fan representatives.
WHO IS GOING TO WIN?
Nobody who has followed this campaign closely knows, nor do I. It’s that close. In recent days, it appears the top three candidates are Carter, Cordeiro and Martino. Carter has the advantage of coming into Saturday’s election with the support of nearly the entire Professional Council.
Cordeiro, the only candidate who has been through a federation election before (for vice president two years ago), has the contacts from that process and has been gaining support among the state youth associations. Meanwhile, Martino may have a path to victory through being seen as a compromise change candidate who isn’t as extreme as Wynalda.Wynalda has drawn support from several state associations, especially on the Adult Council, but he has little support on the Athlete Council (and significantly less than the other three candidates). It’s hard to imagine Wynalda having a path to victory that doesn’t include significant numbers of Athlete Council votes.
WHICH VOTERS WILL LIKELY SWING THE ELECTION?
The Athlete Council. If the AC decides to follow what it has often done in the past and vote as a bloc, delivering 20 percent of the overall vote to one candidate, it will likely decide the outcome. But there’s plenty of division within the group heading into its key meeting on Friday afternoon in Orlando, so voting as a bloc is by no means guaranteed. Carter and Cordeiro appear to be the leading preferences of AC members heading into that meeting, with Martino not far behind and Wynalda having small but vocal support. Winograd is seen by some parts of the AC as impressive but not in a position to win the election.
The members of the Athlete Council are: Chris Ahrens (chair); Angela Hucles (vice-chair); Carlos Bocanegra (vice-chair); Shannon Boxx, Brian Ching, Cindy Parlow Cone (advisor); Brad Guzan, Stuart Holden, Lauren Holiday, Lori Lindsey, Will John, Kate Markgraf, John O’Brien, Heather O’Reilly, Leslie Osborne, Nick Perera, Christie Rampone, Gavin Sibayan, Lindsay Tarpley and Aly Wagner.
One intriguing possibility: If the Athlete Council were to agree to vote as a bloc, it could announce its candidate choice publicly on Friday night. Doing so might serve to 1) place some internal accountability on AC members to do what they say they’ll do and vote for the group’s choice when they have the secret-ballot clickers in their hands on Saturday, and 2) Influence other voters in the election to go with the choice of the Athlete Council on Saturday, knowing that voters tend to want to go with a candidate who’s likely to win. this point, though, nothing is certain, and you can expect plenty of news ahead of Saturday’s vote.
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