Steve Gans confirms U.S. Soccer presidential bid

Four months after expressing interest in running, Boston attorney Steve Gans  threw his name into the hat for the U.S. Soccer presidency. In an interview with Soccer America, Gans, a former college player and parent of a current college player, said the theme of his campaign will be change and fairness.

Sunil Gulati has been U.S. Soccer president since 2006 and never been challenged. He 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.

February election. Gulati has made no announcement about whether he will seek another term. The election will be held at U.S. Soccer's next annual general meeting Feb. 8-11 in Orlando. It comes as American soccer is presented with unprecedented opportunities and faces continued challenges.

The United States is part of a bidding group that is expected to secure the hosting rights to the 2026 World Cup, and MLS is exploring bids that will take it up to 28 teams in the next decade. But the USA sits in fourth place with two games to play in World Cup qualifying. Millions of children play the game, but player development remains a huge issue.

Listening tour. Following his expression of interest in May, Gans was approached by many members of the soccer community and met with members of the U.S. Soccer voting constituency, which consists of youth, adult, pro and athletes councils, and attended the U.S. Youth Soccer AGM in Dallas in late July.

Political and legal support. Gans has formed a steering committee and taken on Scott Ferson, the late Senator Edward Kennedy’s press secretary and a counselor to Democratic candidates considering running for elected office, as a volunteer adviser. He has also had the support of his law firm Prince Lobel, which has represented him on issues that have arisen related to U.S. Soccer's election policies.

"I was enthusiastic about doing this before," he said. "I am now even more enthusiastic and passionate. The feeling was overwhelming from all constituencies that they want change. Members feel they have been marginalized and/or taken for granted."

'There is a lot of dysfunction.' Gans said he wants to give all constituencies the same attention as the national team programs get from Gulati even if the revenues they generate are a fraction of what the national teams bring in. He also feels he can move the national teams forward and improve American soccer's standing.

"It is a surprise to no one that the youth soccer landscape is fractured and has to be addressed," he said. "There is a lot of dysfunction at the youth level. The rancor between sanctioning bodies needs to be addressed because it is causing collateral damage. It is hurting development. It is hurting retention."

Gans 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 founded Professional Soccer Advisors, which has represented European clubs working in the U.S. market.

He said European clubs marvel at how American soccer handles fan engagement and corporate support but that's it. "We are not respected as a soccer nation," he said. "We are dismissed. We can raise this boat."

'It feels like 1989.' Gans questioned the decision to extend Jurgen Klinsmann's contract before the 2014 World Cup only to dismiss him in November 2016. U.S. Soccer has had to pay Klinsmann and the national team finds itself in danger of not qualifying for the World Cup after eight straight appearances.

"It feels like 1989," he said, "going down to the final few games to qualify like we did for the 1990 World Cup. How can that be 28 years later, given how robust a soccer nation we are?"

32 comments about "Steve Gans confirms U.S. Soccer presidential bid".
  1. Fan Enlightened , September 13, 2017 at 7:59 a.m.

    You missed the part about him not supporting promotion/relegation. For me that is a firm no vote. He is right about the youth soccer scene, but until we get better coaches at the youngest ages, we won't improve as a nation. Look at Iceland and Belgium, even Germany. They understood and developed in those critical areas for youth coaching and skill development. We have a nation of "dad" coaches that don't know how to coach or teach skills. A perfect example is a local MLS club in Philly has kids playing 4v4, but using throw in on a small fiel! For U8's! Half the game was throwing the ball down field. Come on now! Simple fix is kick ins with passes to teammates feet. These are the youth developers of the future? They believe the game teaches... half their kids can't trap, receive or kick. It's embarrassing.

  2. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 13, 2017 at 11:40 a.m.

    Iceland?! Is that you Kumar?

  3. mock mook replied, September 13, 2017 at 7:09 p.m.

    Gulati is supporting relegation and promotion?

    BTW, which league(s) are you talking about? For the MLS, US Soccer has virtually no voice in how it does business.

  4. Frank Costello replied, September 13, 2017 at 10:50 p.m.

    Gans NEVER said he was against Pro/Rel. Do your homework!

    Read his comments here:

  5. Georges Carraha, September 13, 2017 at 8:19 a.m.

    True! True! True!
    You cannot teach technical skills if you cannot perform them as a Coach or Trainer. It is very important to demonstrate the skills and break the mechanics down to young players.
    If you cannot receive, control, pass, turn, dribble, shield and even hold the ball, what can the game teach you?
    Parents want to see their kids play games and win. They will not go for just training.
    Youth Soccer is a business!

  6. R2 Dad replied, September 13, 2017 at 7:58 p.m.

    Those are Rec parents, and their kids should be diverted to a Rec program. If US Soccer wants to decouple training-winning, they should offer independent training sessions directly with local kids, along with a scouting function to track player progress. In Europe this is in conjunction with professional clubs, but in the US we'd have to avoid club management and deal directly with youth players. Right now this is polluted by ODP and other politicizing/monetizing programs.

  7. Fajkus Rules, September 13, 2017 at 8:23 a.m.

    U8s using throw-ins is your big complaint? And you don't know youth soccer if you think there are more Dad coaches than paid trainers teaching our youth. The club (a solid community based operation, but not at a level where they play DA, ECNL or regularly appear in a regional USYS league) which trained my kids in suburban Chicago, kicked the parents out of coaching in 2003, and is the reason I became a referee. If any Dads are in coaching at a youth program of any significance, they've got a C License or better.

  8. Fan Enlightened replied, September 13, 2017 at 12:33 p.m.

    Throw-ins for 7 year olds is stupid. They can't head the ball (which the Union were calling and stopping play) and not enouraging PFOTB. They should be working on passing to teammates and receiving the ball. The crap I watched was kids trying to "kick the ball" upfield as hard as they could to no one. This is garbage and KINS needs to be enforced.
    As for the dad coaches, context matters. I am talking about the recreational levels from 5-8 (the early learning phase) that is pervasive and heavily dad/parent coaches in rec levels. This is the most critical time to learn skills. I know of 1-2 clubs working with 6-7 year olds in the Philly area. And even then, most kids are deficient in ball mastery. European and S. American kids are learning a this critical phase. We don't focus on it. Plain and simple.

  9. GA Soccer Forum, September 13, 2017 at 9:15 a.m.

    Daddy coaches is definitely not the problem.

    The fractured youth soccer scene is the issue.

  10. Kate Phillips , September 13, 2017 at 10:10 a.m.

    A new USSF president isn't going to fix the small-sided game; that has to be done at a local level (but I agree with you; throw-ins in small-sided soccer is stupid). Fifty years of "dad" coaches are the reason the game has progressed as far as it has in this country. A perfect system? Far from it. But, if player development had been left up to the handful of semi-pro and top level amateur teams from the 60s until today(Most USA/NASL/ASL teams didn't stick around long enough to develop youth players), our national team would still be getting slammed 8-0 by St Kitts and Nevis, and forget about girl's/women's soccer; wouldn't have happened. As far as pro/rel is concerned, could it be that Gans is a realist, and knows the potential problems caused by a transition to pro/rel, and believes it not to be worth the risk?

  11. Frank Costello replied, September 13, 2017 at 10:58 p.m.

    Kate. He never said he was against Pro/Rel. See article here:

  12. barry politi, September 13, 2017 at 10:17 a.m.

    Anything is better than Sunil Gulati.!!!!

  13. barry politi, September 13, 2017 at 10:20 a.m.

    Does anyone know how to write or email Steve Gans or Paul Kennedy??? Thanks

  14. don Lamb replied, September 13, 2017 at 2:47 p.m.

    holy cow, dude. Please spare them the diatribe you sent to Sunil Gulati (the correspondence that you posted on facebook). Gulati seems like a class act based on how he handled your attacks. He responded to you no fewer than five times when most people in his position don't give the quack jobs that pester them the courtesy of even one response.

  15. Nick Daverese, September 13, 2017 at 11:10 a.m.

    There are a lot of coaches who can not teach the skills of the game here. But that is why you hire trainers because that is what you pay them to do.

    how can anyone support promotion/relegation. Let's say you want to be promoted to the MLS but your playing at a venue that only holds 6000 people. Plus to get into the mls you need a lot more then the owners have.

    Plus you need to buy better players where does that money come from?

    On throw ins there are a lot of coaches whose teams are playing 11v 11 who still think a throw in is a great offensive weapon. Instead of using it to just keep possession.

  16. Ben Myers replied, September 13, 2017 at 11:58 a.m.

    A player, physically strong, making a throw-in within the attacking third of an 11v11 field can be an effective OFFENSIVE weapon. The throw can be straight, fast, accurate and not too high, right to the head, chest, feet of a teammate inside the box.

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, September 13, 2017 at 4:07 p.m.

    Ben, the issue is not with the technique but with the mentality that does not see maintaining possession of the ball as an OFFENSIVE priority. Generally speaking relatively few goals are scored off corner kicks, much less throwins.

  18. Ben Myers, September 13, 2017 at 11:37 a.m.

    Gulati has gotten stale. No new and useful initiatives. No serious attempt to fix the dysfunctional player development environment in the United States. Time for a change!

  19. Ben Myers, September 13, 2017 at 11:55 a.m.

    A quick Google search revealed a business email address for Steve Gans:

  20. Tim Silvestre, September 13, 2017 at 11:56 a.m.

    I agree with Ben, Gulati has been in power too long and he's out of ideas. The whole continuing snafu with the DA vs. ECNL is ridiculous IMHO. For the record, Dad coaches keep AYSO alive and provide endless support for recreational players at all levels.

  21. frank schoon, September 13, 2017 at 12:15 p.m.

    Why are we making such a fuss about who runs US soccer ,for whoever runs this organization has no clue about the Nuts and Bolts of the development of players, PLEAZE... The nuts and bolts of soccer development is carried out by the those who are hired, who are suppose to be in the know,and decide what is best. It's here, at this level where drastic changes need to be made, not on the top of the pyramid. It is the "Nuts and Bolts" level where the greatest effect upon US soccer and success, field wise, will manifest. Arguing about Gans or Gelati is so far removed from what needs to be changed.

  22. Bob Ashpole replied, September 13, 2017 at 4:16 p.m.

    Frank, the new American myth is that the CEO is super smart and knows more than the foreman about work on the assembly line. Like Trump claiming that he knows more about everything than anybody else. This necessarily leads to organizationally destructive behaviors by managers as they are more concerned with maintaining their appearance of superiority than of accomplishing the organization's mission. I said "new" but this trend has been growing for about 40 years. Reality is that coaching players and running a national organization requires different skills and knowledge.

  23. frank schoon replied, September 13, 2017 at 4:48 p.m.

    BOB, I agree with you, the only thing the CEO can do is to bring in a new fresh approach to things that perhaps clashes with the predominant way of doing things but he has to rely on the leadership in the lower echelons to for implementation. You know why Bayern has done so well for the past 40years. It has been run by people that know soccer. There are three who run the show at Bayern, Beckenbauer, Karl Heinze Rumminegge, Uli Hoeness, and some other ones of high playing caliber.. Cruyff has continually praised Bayern's method of running things. Is it any wonder why Bayern has so consistent in their success. Cruyff complained about Ajax for it has too many business types making decisions and not enough soccer intelligence. This is what is happening at Barcelona for they have been gone down in play due to the board leadership...This would never happen at Bayern...

  24. Lonaka K, September 13, 2017 at 2:46 p.m.

    This is the problem with the American thinking of soccer. Everyone has. their idea what is the correct thing to do, and yet they are not on the field with the players encountering the situation of the moment. Like the comment about throw ins. A throw in at the offensive end of the field could be used as a very effective offensive weapon. Even at the midfield point it can be thrown in to a player the with his first touch could create a shot on goal. Then in the defensive third of the field the mindset should be to keep possession of the ball. As a couch it is nothing more aggravating to see your team win a throw in or corner kick and squander the opportunity by either giving the ball up to the opponent or kicking a corner kick clear over the entire penalty area and ending up for an opponents throw in.

  25. frank schoon, September 13, 2017 at 3:10 p.m.

    LONA , we're talking about throw-ins not to kids 7-8-9 years. What you are talking about are kids who are at least 13 who have power in the their throws and thereby it becomes self evident that throws become more important.

  26. Nick Daverese, September 13, 2017 at 5:14 p.m.

    I have been coaching adult teams since the beginning of the 1980s. I don't think we let in one goal off a throw in. Or a flip throw in nothing. But I have seen many many balls where teams making the thrown lost the ball instead of controlling the ball from a throw in.

  27. R2 Dad, September 13, 2017 at 8:34 p.m.

    What about transparency? Daylight is the best disinfectant.

  28. Bob Ashpole, September 14, 2017 at 3:59 a.m.

    I am going to express a different opinion. I think Sunil Gulati has been good for soccer. He is an excellent manager, has managed to grow the sport and avoid entangling himself in corruption at a time when most FA executives in the Americas have been knee deep in it. I also think he is a bit of idealist to even want the job. Sure, I thought hiring Klinsmann as national team coach was a mistake. He has some great qualities, and I can see why Gulati chose him. I don't know if Steve Gans would do a better job than Gulati, but I do know that having two people willing to do the job is a good thing. Rather than hire a publicist, I would rather Mr. Gans had gotten involved with US Soccer at a level higher than a club. If Mr. Gans has any ability for management, having both men involved is preferable to having only one.

  29. Nick Daverese, September 14, 2017 at 4:19 a.m.

    My main beef with gulati is the same as another poster said he kept Klinnesmann way too long. You know Klinnesmann is still being paid even though he was fired. You have to put the manager under pressure to win. He can't be secure that even if the team loses he will still have a job. You produce or your gone. Just like players should produce or you will find someone else who will.

  30. Andrew Kear, September 14, 2017 at 10:40 a.m.

    He must be accountable for the terrible performance of the U23 team.

  31. frank schoon replied, September 19, 2017 at 10:06 a.m.

    who cares about U23. I have no idea why we even have one. How 'bout a U25.....

  32. j.b. diGriz, September 18, 2017 at 8:08 p.m.

    Gans has not taken the same step as Gulati to spurn pro/rel, but that's not a reason to support him. Vote for a candidate who is a deep-throated supporter of pro/rel.

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