Former U.S. men's national team star Eric Wynalda
and Boston attorney Steve Gans
laid out their case to succeed U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati
at a forum organized by the U.S.
Adult Soccer Association held in Lake Tahoe. State of the race.
Wynalda announced plans to run for president on Friday.
Gans announced in mid-September and confirmed on Thursday he had received the three endorsements he needs from member organizations to be eligible to run
Gulati did not speak at the
forum, though, like Wynalda and Gans, he did talk at regional USASA meetings on Saturday morning. Gulati, who also talked at the beginning of the USASA's National Council meeting, said he has not
decided whether he'll run for what would be his last term under the federation's new term-limit rules. Primer: Here's how U.S. Soccer's presidential election works ... "We've got a soccer problem."
He acknowledged Gulati for his work in soccer over the last 30 years -- the last 12 as president -- and what
American soccer has accomplished and how it has excelled, but he said it is not good enough any more.
Wynalda's message was simple: "We've got a soccer problem." He said he understands
how some members might question his ability to run a $100 million organization, but that soccer's issues are bigger than that.
"If we don't take care of the product," he said, "it will
not take care of us. We have a soccer problem, not a business issue."
Wynalda, who has worked in recent years as a Fox Sports analyst, said soccer has hit a ceiling under Gulati and he
was the person to build a couple of new floors.
"When we see performances like we did the other night," he said in reference to the USA's loss to Trinidad & Tobago, "they happen for a
He added that if there are any problems with the partnership between the federation and the men's national team they were 10 times worse with the women.
federation is here to provide guidance," he added. "It's to serve, not the other way around." 'Elephant in the room.'
the story of his life in soccer beginning as a child in Boston when his father, a German immigrant, would bring him along on the train to semi-pro games in New York and then to games in the Boston
area with the Astros and Minutemen.
Gans, who played in college, has worked on the board of a Development Academy team, FC Boston Bolts, and also as a soccer consultant for European
"I think I understand all segments of the game," said Gans, who emphasized his work running a "complex business" like U.S. Soccer as the chief operating officer and general counsel
for New England Mobile Book Fair and online food-book company Jessica's Biscuits. "My larger point is, I respect all segments of the game."
Gans said the elephant in the room had become
the men's national team following its loss to Trinidad & Tobago.
"Before last Tuesday night," he said, "there was too much focus on the national team, not enough on the
constituencies. Now, it is about national team -- we didn't make the World Cup.
Gans said, if elected, he wasn't going to pick the next men's national team coach all by himself but would
work with technical experts.
"But this job much bigger than just the national team," he said. "It is about leading the organization, about growing the pie, about business deals, about
consensus-building, about interfacing with organizations like yours, youth, athletes and pros."
When Mr. Wynalda and Mr. Gans spoke that offered no solutions at all. Nothing concrete was provided that gave anyone in attendance an idea that they indeed had experience enough and the knowledge to be the President of US Soccer and deal with the entire membership and issues. US Soccer is not just the men's national team and it's failure to qualify. We have many other departments that are successful but neither of these two gentlemen even mentioned the majority of what US Soccer does and the positive areas they we are very good at. They both reminded me of teh sound that the tecaher in the Charlie Brown cartoons makes. You hear her but nothing is really being said. Both have no idea about our mnay areas of US Soccer and only focused on the men's natioal team. US Soccer needs a leader that can reach our grassroots members while placing the right people in place that are "experts' in specific ares to help improve and manage what US Soccer does. From selection of national team coaches, trainers, technical advisors to Referees, coaching, players, adult organzations, youth soccer organizations. Futsal, women's teams training, coaching, players, to nutrition to developing resources to make many of these areas self sustaining so that they can grow and improve. I look at our Central American neighbors and what they have to work with yet they produce quality in players, coaching, Futsal and more. MLS has nothing to do with that.
Lets get a candiate out in the open (we do have one other that was not event mentioned) that will care about all areas and provide each part of US Soccer quality and new leadership.
Smoke and mirrors, your organization sucks and does very few things well.
Given that Eric Wynalda has in recent years coached Cal FC, the Atlanta Silverbacks and LA Wolves with some degree of success with all those teams it is hard to understand why one might try to assert that he is without understanding of any aspect of US soccer other than the US MNT. That assertion is ludicrous on its face. The mix of teams that Wynalda has coached range from full amateur to lower division professional. This is exactly the level of soccer that requires liasing with both MLS teams as well as youth development teams and colleges in looking for talent. To succeeed, as Mr. Wynalda has done, at these levels suggests that he is more than capable of understanding soccer at these levels below the US MNT and the MLS. Of course he has experience at those levels as well. Additionally, since he is a father of children that play youth soccer he will obviously have witnessed soccer at the younger youth levels recently as well.
Additionally, in his career he played overseas, and currently covers foreign soccer leagues as a tele-journalist - giving him experience with how other nations run their leagues and associations, as well as giving him experience with soccer as a television commodity. Additionally, he has directly adressed issues relating to the women's game.
None of this is to say that he has to be the best candidate for the USSF presidency, perhaps he is and perhaps he isn't. But to suggest he is unknowledgable of teh range of soccer constituencies in the US is simple silliness.
If you feel that Eric Wynalda's presentation was reminiscent of the teacher on the Charlie Brown special saying "Wah Wah Wah" I can't help but say that watching the US team floundering under Sunil's aegis is like watching Charlie Brown try to kick a football. Nothing will chang if we change nothing.
EdM: I am at a great disadvantage by not having heard their presentation or being at the meeting, other than that which SA presented above. That being said, it is disingenuous to say they didn't give a much broader picture of the situation, but let me tell you that Wynalda does have a much, much broader knowledge about the US Soccer scene having known him and about him for the past decades, while I know very little about Gans. Lastly, how sad to read that Gulati did not take the stage with both of the announced candidates, which perhaps (emphasis on "perhaps") many folks out there in our US soccer world and "la-la-land" will perceive as somewhat arrogance with perhaps him thinking that I will ultimately throw my hat into the race and will win - again. I hope not.
Wynalda has more than Gans but both are limited only to players and teams (in fact, very few teams and men's team only). Those areas are only a part of what US Soccer is about. Heck, Eric couldn't even give you an answer as to where the surplus money comes from and how it should be spent. We have many more youth players and participants than National teams. We have much more Referees than just about any other country. Neither could speak simply about those areas. US Soccer is not just about a National team winning. They don't get that and some supporters don't either.
In total agreement with the view expressed by Mr. Fonseca, I believe that Mr. Winalda is an experienced executive that lucky for us also knows and feels the game, proud of his achievements, never forget what a great player he was and is (once a Football player, "Soccer" always a football player, remembered scoring and beating Argentina in Buenos Aires). He's the best of the three candidates, Sunil should be President of the US Crickett Association and never heard of Mr. Gans. For the good of the game and to regaing our lost prestigue in the Football (Soccer) World, Vote for better times that only Mr. Winalda can make it possible.
The truth is we don't have a leadership bench at all, we should bring in a leader with global experience in managing a multilayer consumer products company. (thats what national soccer really is)
We need a real outside in POV not just a soccer/football leader without management skills or a real understanding of how to run a $100m consumer proudcts & media company. That is what we need.
Then spend 2 years cleaning the board out. Bring in a great mix of football/soccer federation pros from around the world & business/legal/marketing pros.
here is a great article on an overall POV.
Transparency, anyone? I'm not naive enough to think USSF will listen to people at the youth level, but if there is more effort on improving the visibility of issues and the communication of possible solutions, it will seem more like a communal decision rather than backroom deals. The USSF has always seemed to be running away from the light instead of towards it.
I'm also curious--What does Sunil want to do with the $100,000,000 he has helped raise? From the sound of it, Iceland took Cony's advice and built lots of local fields and had themselves a Revolution, and have now qualified in UEFA for Russia 2018. Hmmmm.....maybe if USSF went into lots of areas with no money and a lot of soccer talent/interest and invested in infrastructure, we might get part of the Revolucion we truly need. All-weather futsal courts, anyone?
The problem I see is with the 1-guy-in-charge of everything. I don't like the idea of a soccer-guy making the business decisions. I also don't like the idea of a business-guy making the soccer decisions.
If you notice, most of Mr. Gulati's critics recognize that he has done well on the business side.
Generally speaking, if we elect a soccer-guy as president he is unlikely to have the expertise or interest needed to manage the business side well. If we elect a business-guy as president he is unlikely to have the expertise needed to manage the soccer side well.
The solution I see is creating a technical board of former national team players that has the final say on soccer decisions including appointment of coaches and technical staff. The current organization (president, directors, council) has worked very well on business matters and it should stay in place, but soccer matters should be taken from them and managed separately. Members of the technical board should serve long staggered terms to provide continuity.
I am not suggesting that individuals cannot wear two hats if they have the credentials and the commitment.
Heard EW talk about his ideas: http://www.espnfc.us/international/55/video/3251359/max-and-herc-wynalda-talks-us-soccer-candidacy