TORONTO — Sunil Gulati won't be running for re-election as U.S. Soccer president, and on Saturday insisted he has not chosen someone to endorse in the race among a growing field of candidates.
Facing the media after a Saturday morning presentation on the 2026 World Cup hosting joint bid between the United States, Mexico and Canada, Gulati refuted reports suggesting Soccer United Marketing president Kathy Carter was his hand-picked choice to succeed him as USSF president.
"I haven't endorsed anybody and I haven't said I have a preferred candidate," Gulati said. "This is all real time over the last few days. So let's see where things go.
"I'll certainly think about it, but I haven't made a decision on that."
Carter told Sports Illustrated in a recent interview that she had not been pushed to run for president by Gulati and MLS commissioner Don Garber despite rumors suggesting just that. Sources tell Goal that Carter is very much Gulati's preferred candidate, but that the considerable vitriol still aimed at Gulati after the U.S. national team's failure to qualify for the World Cup has made his public endorsement potentially more detrimental than helpful.
The U.S. Soccer presidential election has gone from one which saw Gulati run unopposed the three times he ran for president to one with nine candidates after former U.S. women's national team goalkeeper Hope Solo threw her name into the ring on Thursday. Solo joins Carter, Carlos Cordeiro, Kyle Martino, Eric Wynalda, Steven Gans, Michael Winograd, Paul LaPointe and Paul Caligiuri as identified candidates, though it remains unclear if they all have secured the necessary three nominations to run for the election, which is set to be contested in February.
"I don't think there will be eight candidates come February and I don't think all of the candidates will get the requisite nominations," Gulati said when asked about the state of the race. "Am I surprised (by the number of candidates)? No. Probably some of the candidates don't have a full understanding of the job they are running for, but that's probably true of anybody who runs for an office. My guess is that president Trump got surprised by a couple of things in his first week on the job."
Gulati also disputed the notion that he was somehow still influencing the election because of the fact he has yet to formally withdraw, which has led the perception he is holding up delegates who could conceivably re-assign their letters of recommendation for Gulati to other candidates before the Tuesday deadline to seek the requisite three nominations to run for president.
"It's not a question of me releasing letters. I don't know where that thought comes from," Gulati said. "I don't released my delegates. That's a misnomer. If I formally withdraw, there may be a certain treatment and I've made my decision about not seeking reelection. I don't control my delegates. That's not how it works."
Gulati formally announced his decision not to run for re-election last Monday, but as of Saturday he had yet to formally notify U.S. Soccer of his decision to withdraw.
"I'll take care of that over the next few days," Gulati said.