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Meet the 8 candidates for U.S. Soccer president

Their ideas and backgrounds couldn’t be more wide-ranging.

One Zero Conference Photo by Lorraine O'Sullivan/Getty Images

On Dec. 4, longtime U.S. Soccer federation president Sunil Gulati announced that he would not run for re-election. His imminent departure has created a wide-open field for February’s presidential election, and plenty of qualified candidates have thrown their hat into the ring.

Nine people declared their candidacy, and eight of them received the necessary nominations to run. The only person who didn’t make the cut is Paul Lapointe, who spent his short candidacy starting Twitter fights.

One of these eight people will become the next U.S. Soccer president on February 10. Let’s meet them.

Kathy Carter

Who is she?: The president of Soccer United Marketing

I’m new here, what’s that?: SUM is the marketing arm of Major League Soccer, and U.S. Soccer is also a major stakeholder. They also promote some other club and international team games. SUM won the marketing rights to Copa America Centenario after the original rights holders got caught up in the FIFA scandal, and that’s why U.S. Soccer has $140 million in the bank.

What does she stand for?: Making money, basically. She wants to address women’s pay inequality and pay-to-play, for sure, but her policy proposals are pretty non-specific. Carter’s proven to be an extremely effective executive though, so there’s reason to believe she’s capable of hiring the right soccer people and empowering them with significant funding.

Chances of winning?: High. It’s hard to pick a favorite out of a field this large, but she has the ears of people currently in power.

Got a website where I can read more?: Yes!

Carlos Cordeiro

Who is he?: U.S. Soccer vice president, former Goldman Sachs executive

So this is as status quo as it gets?: That’ll be the optics for sure. Cordeiro has been Gulati’s right-hand man for the last year and a half.

What does he stand for?: He admits he’s not a soccer expert, so he wants to hire a GM who reports to the CEO. He also wants a commercial rights committee with an independent leader to eliminate potential conflicts of interest like the ones NASL is accusing the federation of.

Chances of winning?: Worse than before Carter entered, but he should have the right contacts to have a chance.

Got a website where I can read more?: Nope! But here’s an interview with Jonathan Tannenwald.

Eric Wynalda

Who is he?: A former USMNT player, coach, and FOX analyst

That dude I see yelling wild stuff on TV?: You bet. He’s playing a character for a TV audience, though. Outside of that world, Wynalda is a sharp guy with serious ideas for improving soccer in America.

What does he stand for?: Getting American pro soccer in line with the European schedule, reorganizing the second and third divisions to stabilize them.

Chances of winning?: Depends on how hungry for change USSF’s board members are. If they want a true anti-Gulati, Wynalda is their guy. But, if we’re being realistic, his chances are low. If Wynalda was good at schmoozing, he’d have been an MLS head coach or GM a long time ago.

Got a website where I can read more?: Yes!

Hope Solo

Who is she?: Former USWNT goalkeeper

Doesn’t she have a criminal case pending?: Yes. She was arrested on two counts of fourth degree domestic violence in 2014, and that case is still hung up in appeals. She won’t stand trial before the election. U.S. Soccer will require the president to pass a background check, but no one knows what “pass” means. Solo has not been convicted of a felony.

What does she stand for?: Using U.S. Soccer’s money to give more financially underprivileged kids a chance to play at top youth clubs and emphasizing transparency in all of USSF’s decisions.

Chances of winning?: Low. Solo likely faces an uphill climb in convincing voters that she has the necessary experience to run U.S. Soccer, and that her pending criminal case is a non-issue. But she’ll be an important voice that will force other candidates to take hard positions.

Got a website where I can read more?: Yes!

Steve Gans

Who is he?: Boston attorney who’s worked on a wide variety of soccer projects

Did I hear his name before all this started?: Yep. Gans declared that he’d oppose Sunil Gulati well before the USMNT failed to qualify for the World Cup and Gulati said he’d step down.

What does he stand for?: Completely revamping youth soccer. He wants coaches to define how the Development Academy should function and will rip it up to start from scratch if that’s what prominent youth coaches tell him to do. Forcing the pro leagues to cooperate with each other and, coinciding with that, trying to elevate the U.S. Open Cup.

Chances of winning?: Decent, if only because he’s been campaigning longer than anyone else. He had time to make connections and win over voters before other candidates entered the field.

Got a website where I can read more?: Yes!

Kyle Martino

Who is he?: NBC analyst and former USMNT player

Kansas City Wizards v Los Angeles Galaxy Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Does he have any relevant experience?: Not really, which should hinder his campaign. Martino notes that he’s seen every level of the game as a player and parent, but he’s never been in charge of anything.

What does he stand for?: Creating an organic soccer culture by empowering amateur leagues and building futsal courts. Building regional training centers. Directly investing more of USSF’s money in NWSL.

Chances of winning?: Moderate. He’ll win over a lot of fans with his personality and passion for improving soccer in America, but it’ll be hard for many to look past the fact that he’s never been a coach, GM, or executive at a high level.

Got a website where I can read more?: Yes!

Michael Winograd

Who is he?: New York lawyer, and former professional player and GM

Why are journalists stanning this guy I’ve never heard of?: He’s seen by many as the best candidate to bridge the business and technical sides of USSF’s operation. He’s the only one who has direct experience with both.

What does he stand for?: Transparent advisory committees for any key decisions made by the federation, and working with private businesses to incentivize them to fund youth soccer and coaching education.

Chances of winning?: Difficult to tell. He has the right pedigree and he’s saying the right things, but we don’t know yet if he’s made the right connections.

Got a website where I can read more?: Yes!

Paul Caligiuri

Who is he?: Former USMNT player best known for scoring the goal that qualified the USMNT for the 1990 World Cup. He’s been a coach since retiring and is currently the manager of NPSL team Orange County FC.

Shouldn’t this guy’s candidacy be a bigger deal?: You’d think so. Caligiuri has had the least to say and received the least media coverage of all candidates.

What does he stand for?: Reforming youth soccer by bringing the DA, Olympic Development Program, U.S. Club Soccer, and the talent ID program all under one big umbrella. Wants USSF to be more focused on player development than its business.

Chances of winning?: Low. He said in late November that he actually hadn’t filed the paperwork yet, which isn’t a great sign.

Got a website where I can read more?: Nope! Can’t find an interview with him either, and his Twitter is very inactive.