U.S. Soccer presidential race: Kyle Martino: 'We're taking a leap with anyone'

Kyle Martino was the seventh of nine candidates to enter the race for U.S. Soccer president, jumping in three months ago.

A strong performance at the U.S. Youth Soccer forum in Philadelphia gave him momentum heading into the final three weeks of the campaign where much of the attention has been focused on Kathy Carter and Eric Wynalda at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

In a media conference call on Tuesday, Martino talked about how his campaign has progressed since he took a leave of absence from his position as a studio analyst on NBC Sports' coverage of the English Premier League.

"It reaffirmed we were going about it the right way," he said of the reaction at the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia.

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At 36, Martino is the second youngest candidate in the field -- just months older than Hope Solo -- and the youngest of the candidates given a shot at winning. That youth has been one of the concerns about his candidacy, but he says his Progress Plan was designed to show that he and others around him have a grasp of the issues.

"How we can ask this membership to take a leap?" he said. "No one in this race has done this job, no one in the race, even those on the inside, has seen the job done it the way it should be done. We’re taking a leap with anyone. I just want the membership not to take such a huge leap."

Martino is trying to portray himself as an acceptable reform candidate: "I'm on the change side of the spectrum, one of the least polarizing candidates in the election."

He said rumors about his intentions suggest he is viewed as a serious candidate with momentum. He insisted, though, he has not made any pacts with other candidates, and voters should view how he has conducted his campaign as how he'd operate as president.

"I’ve behaved how I will govern," he said, "and they don’t have to guess who I'll be after Feb. 10, they don’t have to guess what I’ll do after Feb. 10."

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Martino says he is dismayed with the tone of the campaign on social media.

"Ugliness and nastiness has come out and it's really, really disappointing," he said. "It is distracting from the people who need us the most, the kids who aren't enjoying their experience, coaches that are having difficult time getting licenses, referees who are not being able to get enough games, Paraolympians who are retiring at 24 in their prime, incredible women's soccer players who are retiring after college."

Martino said federation members whom he talks with every day notice it, too.

"Most of the membership I'm on the phone with say it disappoints them," he added. "It's abhorrent and it should stop. I've yet to talk to someone who enjoys these attacks. Everyone in this campaign, we are different, we all have our strengths, we all have our weaknesses. There is no perfect candidate. We are all people. And I think we are all good people with the good of the game as our priority and that it our motivation. We should be all going for the same things."

1 comment about "U.S. Soccer presidential race: Kyle Martino: 'We're taking a leap with anyone'".
  1. R2 Dad, February 7, 2018 at 3:58 p.m.

    "Most of the membership I'm on the phone with say it disappoints them"

    Kyle Martino, of course that's what they will say. The voting members are part of the status quo. They make their living in the sport, and business-wise everything looks OK. You should be talking to the disaffected members, the people who don't have a vote and a voice at the table. That is where the anger is coming from.

    Talk to the parents and kids who can't get to a DA club and/or can't afford it. Talk to kids who have to play crappy middleschool/highschool soccer because their coach is a science teacher who never played at a high level so all they get is kickball. Talk to college players and their parents who have to play crappy NCAA soccer. They will tell you that after about age 13, the systems in place fail players and families. Talk to NASL fans and team owners who have seen USSoccer marginalize their teams, players and contribution to the sport. Talk to all the young americans who have left the country to play outside the US because there is little opportunity for them here.

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