U.S. Soccer presidential candidates: Who are they and what are their platforms?

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Ahead of Saturday's election in Orlando, Florida, Goal has provided a breakdown of the eight candidates to replace Sunil Gulati

The U.S. Soccer Federation will have new leadership this weekend, with the presidential election taking place Saturday at the annual general meeting in Orlando, Florida. Members of U.S. Soccer's affiliated councils and organizations will cast their ballots to decide who the new president of U.S. Soccer will be.

Current president Sunil Gulati announced in December he would not be seeking another term. Gulati had won all three of his terms running unopposed, but the U.S. men's national team's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and other issues surrounding the sport in the U.S. led to a flood of candidates. Eight received the necessary nominations to stand in Saturday's election. We take you through all of them below:


Paul Caligiuri


Paul Caligiuri

Who is he? The scorer of "the shot heard round the world" as the U.S. beat Trinidad & Tobago to qualify for the 1990 World Cup. He continued playing in Europe before returning home to finish his career in MLS, playing more than 100 matches with the LA Galaxy. In recent years, he has coached and provided television commentary.

What's his platform? Caligiuri's platform lists "inclusiveness," "parity" and "transparency" as his main focuses. The 53-year-old writes that the U.S. women's national team's push for equal pay should not be ignored, saying, "Salaries should be equal. Period." 


Kathy Carter


Kathy Carter

Who is she? Carter is the president of Soccer United Marketing (though she has taken leave during the election and would resign were she to win). She has been with the organization — which works to market and manage business partnerships for MLS, the U.S. and Mexico national teams, and major tournaments — since 2003 and became president in 2010.

What's her platform? Carter has a six-point plan that leads off with a need to "change the federation's culture." This includes streaming Board of Directors meetings and hiring a chief diversity officer. She also wants to "grow the adult game and integrate unaffiliated leagues," add a general manager and increase scouting for national teams, and "go all in on the women's game" with equal pay and short- and long-term goals for the NWSL.


Carlos Cordeiro


Carlos Cordeiro

Who is he? Cordeiro has worked with the U.S. federation for a decade, serving as Gulati's executive vice president since 2016. He also serves on the CONCACAF Council. He is now retired but worked at Goldman Sachs for decades, eventually becoming the firm's vice president for Asia.

What's his platform? Cordeiro wants to grow U.S. Soccer's budget over the next decade to invest in all levels of the game, with a three-part plan he's titled, "Aim Higher." He wants to "Grow the game at all levels," "Develop world-class national teams" and "Ensure open, inclusive, transparent leadership." That includes hiring general managers for the men's and women's national teams who report to the CEO, promote unity in youth soccer, and create a full-time position for a director of diversity and inclusion. 


Steve Gans


Who is he? Gans is a Boston-based lawyer who focuses on business, sports and employment law at Prince Lobel Tye LLP. He played soccer at all levels and also was involved in the 1994 World Cup organization committee, helping bringing games to Boston. Gans announced he would run for the presidency before the men's national team failed to qualify for the World Cup.

What's his platform? Gans has his platform outlined on "Leadership," "Fairness" and "Reform." Gans is looking to "bridge the gap between the state associations, on the one hand, and U.S. Soccer and USYS, on the other hand." 

"I think change, fairness, transparency and greater competence. That’s what’s going to happen here," he told Goal in Ocober. "I do think this job also is not about star power, it’s about competency in many, many areas and it’s about getting it. That’s why I think I’m the most valuable candidate."


Kyle Martino


Kyle Martino

Who is he? Martino played six seasons as a midfielder in MLS before moving into the commentary booth. He worked with NBC Sports on its coverage of American soccer and the English Premier League.

What's his platform? Change is the overarching theme with "transparency," "equality" and "progress" the main points. Martino says he would step aside were the men's national team to fail to qualify for the 2022 World Cup or miss the quarterfinals in 2026 and would do the same should the women's national team fail to make the semifinals in any international tournament from 2023 forward. He also has proposed making the president role a paid position.


Hope Solo


Hope Solo

Who is she? A former U.S. international who won the World Cup in 2015 and Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012. Solo saw her international career ended in 2016 when her national team contract was terminated following negative comments about Sweden's style of play at the Olympics.

What's her platform? Solo has a plan with four highlights: "Create a Winning Culture at USSF," "Become The Global Leader in Equality and Women’s Issues," "Make Soccer Accessible to All," and "Embody the Highest Standards of Transparency and Good Governance."

"I’m the only candidate who has a track record where you can see I continue to push against the status quo, where I continue to fight for equality, where I continue to hold the federation accountable," Solo told The Guardian. "Somebody has to really stand in the face of U.S. Soccer and demand change."


Michael Winograd


Who is he? Winograd is an attorney who played college soccer and three years of pro soccer in Israel. He has been involved in local soccer governance since 2008.

What's his platform? Winograd has three strategic initiatives, naming "inclusive, merit-based and transparent advisory committees for critical decisions," "equal treatment for women's soccer," and "take down cost barriers in youth soccer and coaching education." 

"I will implement a governance structure that is inclusive, merit-based and transparent," he wrote in a questionnaire from the American Outlaws. "Critical US Soccer decisions will reflect meaningful input from all parts of the US Soccer landscape that they affect. And absolute transparency will be imposed to ensure integrity and engender confidence and trust."


Eric Wynalda


Eric Wynalda

Who is he? A former U.S. national team forward who earned more than 100 caps from 1990 to 2000. Since retiring, he has coached and also been a television commentator.

What's his platform? Wynalda is focusing on injecting development projects with money, which he's branded a "Soccer Stimulus"; promoting transparency, including the creation of a full-time ethics, integrity and inclusion office; and changing the culture of the federation largely by establishing programs to support athletes during and after their playing careers.

He also has said he supports promotion and relegation in U.S. leagues and a switch to the European calendar.

"There’s been a lot made of the role that I’ve had in the last decade and a half being on television," he told Goal in November. "What I’m experiencing now, and I think it’s been a great experience, is a lot of people are being introduced to the real me."

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