At the U.S. Youth forum,
Martino helped himself the most, doing the best job of weaving a story about what is wrong and what are some of the things that can be done to fix them.
Wynalda, who speaks very well to coaches as a coach with experience at the pro and semipro level and with his kids, was very good in his 1-on-1 session with former teammate and Fox Sports 1 colleague Alexi Lalas, but he was less so at forum where he rattled off his critiques of the federation rapidly without a lot of opportunity to calmly try to explain the situation.
Carter was better at the forum than in her 1-on-1, though some who only saw her in the forum were not impressed. She still struggles in trying to connect with soccer audiences. Cordeiro is clearly uncomfortable as a public speaker and had the disadvantage of going last. The event went long and some attendees left to attend other scheduled meetings, but to his credit, the current U.S. Soccer vice president did not lose his audience.
The event was probably a missed opportunity for Steve Gans and Mike Winograd to make the case to the many delegates who find the four frontrunners unacceptable for one reason or another. The first remark everyone had about Gans, who's been in the mix from many state associations, was about how much he sweated. Winograd's description of a youth soccer pyramid with U.S. Club above U.S. Youth didn't exactly go over well at a U.S. Youth event.
Former players Hope Solo and Paul Caligiuri, who round out the field and are long shots, both earned positive reviews from attendees for their positions.
Hope Solo is on stage now! pic.twitter.com/tADXMFUEdL— US Youth Soccer (@USYouthSoccer) January 20, 2018
DA problem. Credit should go to the speakers for the many points they raised. In particular, the discussion underscored the many questions that need to addressed about the effectiveness of the Development Academy. That should have been no surprise as three of the candidates -- Gans, Winograd and Wynalda -- have or had children in the DA.
"It is creating players without joy," said Gans. "How do I know that? Because of federation rules, it sucked the life out of my son."
Winograd talked about his 15-year-old son already having to miss school for travel to DA games and how families shouldn't be driving their sons and daughters two and a half hours to soccer games on the weekend.
Wynalda made the points that youth soccer became too "serious" too soon and whether it intended to or not, the DA is creating "winners and losers" at a young age.
Two thoughts after today’s candidate forum... (1) votes already decided didn’t change (2) it was a real missed opportunity with all 8 candidates and delegates representing nearly every youth vote in the same room to have an actual debate and find real differences.— Mike Cullina (@mikecullina) January 20, 2018
What matters. A final caveat about the 1-on-1s and forum is that while they are important in creating narratives and impressions, the meetings behind the scenes between candidates and voting delegates -- the one- and two-hour meetings to discuss issues and clarify support -- are what matter.
And a final caveat about the race. As Gulati noted about Soccer America's breakdown of the delegates, few members have publicly declared their support. If others are telling candidates they are supporting them, it should be taken with a grain of salt.
As one longtime federation member reminded, the only delegates to believe are those who tell you they are not voting for you.