Gulati was elected to successive four-year terms in 2006, 2010 and 2014. New U.S. Soccer term limits were approved with Gulati's support in March, but he will be allowed to run for one more term in 2018. (Gulati has made no decision about whether he will seek another term.)
"This is democracy," Gans told Soccer America. "This is America. For an organization this big, a $150 million organization, to never have a challenger, a fourth term without a challenger, is not good from a process perspective. For the good of the game, somebody should run. I think I should perhaps be that somebody."
Before making a decision about whether to run, Gans says he will spend the next 60 days or so meeting with soccer constituencies and listening to what they have to say.
"You have to wonder why no one has ever opposed Sunil," he said. "I don't think it's because he's doing such an excellent job. I get a lot of calls from people who are unhappy, so I am aware of some of the issues. But in the interim period, I want to go on a listening tour. I think I have some good ideas, but I am going to listen. I want to hear what the feedback is."
Gans points to three of Gulati's decisions that he says showed poor judgment and leadership:
1. Extending Jurgen Klinsmann's contract through 2018 before the 2014 World Cup finals were even played. (Klinsmann was fired in November 2016.)
2. Not attending a Senate subcommittee hearing on U.S. Soccer's involvement with FIFA and Concacaf in July 2015. (Gulati later said he did not receive specific legal advice not to testify and U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn was instead chosen to appear, based on a wide range of topics the subcommittee initially planned on reviewing.)
3. Letting the labor dispute with the U.S. women's national team linger and become a major media story.
"The men's national team has gone backwards," Gans added, "and youth soccer is in disarray."
Gans, who played college soccer at Cornell and Brandeis, served on the board of directors of and as legal counsel to FC Boston, an original member of U.S. Soccer's Development Academy program first known as the Greater Boston Bolts.
He worked for the NASL's New England Tea Men and the MISL's Baltimore Blast and was a Soccer America correspondent before pursuing a law career. He represented the owners of Foxboro Stadium, Steve Karp and Robert Kraft, and worked with the local bid committee in connection with securing World Cup 1994 matches in Boston.
Gans later founded Professional Soccer Advisors, which has represented English Premier League and other European clubs working in the U.S. market. He also explored the feasibility of forming an alternative MLS players association to the group, backed by the NFL Players Association, that lost a drawn-out antitrust lawsuit to MLS and was later replaced by the current players union.
In addition to his legal work in private practice, Gans was for many years the COO and general counsel of New England Mobile Book Fair, one of the nation’s largest independent book and publishing companies, and its popular online cookbook company, Jessica's Biscuits.
All that, Gans says, gives him a unique perspective on the game.
"Sunil is a very intelligent guy, and has definite strengths," said Gans. "But in all humility, I think I am more well-rounded, being a parent of Development Academy players, being an adviser to executives and owners of Premier League teams, having represented players and management. I understand all their perspectives."
U.S. Soccer's membership (pros, youth, adult, athletes) will pick its president at its next AGM, which will be held Feb. 8-11, 2018, in Orlando.
That will come a month before U.S. Soccer must submit its three-nation proposal to host the 2026 World Cup and four months before the FIFA Congress is expected to award the 2026 hosting rights to the USA, Canada and Mexico.