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U.S. Soccer Presidential Election Is Turning Into An Episode Of Survivor

The campaign to elect a new U.S. Soccer president is turning into wonderful, brilliant, shitty reality TV. It’s basically become an episode of Survivor, and the alliances are already being formed.

The U.S. Soccer Federation will elect its first new president since 2006, when Sunil Gulati started his tenure as the most powerful man in the sport in this country. Eight candidates are seeking election. Last I checked, only one can become U.S. Soccer president. 

Of the eight candidates, two appear to have the most traction among voters this week: Kathy Carter and Carlos Cordeiro, both establishment picks. Earlier this week, the NWSL said it would put its votes behind Carter, the on-leave president of Soccer United Marketing (an arm of MLS, which one would expect to also support Carter). Cordeiro, as Gulati’s vice president, will hope to count on many of the same voters who put Gulati in office. 

The other six, sensing the votes slipping away from them, have decided to form a sort of alliance, a “Gang of Six” to fight the power and promote “change.” And the alliance is just like one in a season of Survivor — fluid, uncertain and absolutely meaningless until it’s actually time to vote. (And yes, the Survivor TV show is still on air, with a 36th season to begin at the end of February.)

The story of how the Gang of Six has tried to form an alliance to promote their platform of change over the status quo of Carter and Cordeiro sounds like something out of Fire and Fury. Candidates and their “people” were shuttling in and out of hotel rooms, scheming secretly and ultimately coming to no real consensus. No surprise given the amount of characters involved among the six, who include Paul Caligiuri, Steve Gans, Kyle Martino, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd and Eric Wynalda. 

U.S. Soccer President

The candidates to become the next U.S. Soccer president. Photo:@ussoccer | Twitter

The chaotic events are documented here and here, but here are the highlights:

Many of the six change candidates wanted to join forces with a joint statement of some sort, though Caligiuri was never really involved. Gans and his people began to pen a statement for the six to release, but two were not happy with the first draft. Winograd didn’t want any negative campaigning; Wynalda wanted a plan for how they might back a certain candidate after the first round of voting on Saturday. (More on how the vote happens here.) At some point, someone (probably Gans, who also let the Washington Post’s Steven Goff into his room for the meetings) leaked a photo of the screen containing the first draft of the statement.

As it currently stands, no joint statement has been agreed upon. All six desperately want to be the next U.S. Soccer president, just like every Survivor wants to win a million dollars. They want to align only in so much as it will get them further in the election.

The problem is, if they don’t come to some sort of agreement, U.S. Soccer will likely end up electing another establishment candidate. Carter and Cordeiro likely won’t stray far from what Gulati has been doing for the last dozen years, for better or worse — the other six desire deep change. 

It’s possible the gang joins together and creates a real alliance, a pact that will help one of them be the last man or woman standing on Saturday. It would make sense for them to agree to throw their support behind the candidate with the most votes after the first round or a similar process. 

If Jim and Dwight can join together in an alliance, this eclectic group can do it. If not, the new U.S. Soccer president may keep the status quo and the federation will miss an opportunity for real change.

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