In a somewhat surprising outcome, U.S. Soccer vice president Carlos Cordeiro has been elected as the organization’s new president, winning on the third ballot. Cordeiro beat out seven other candidates: former national team players Hope Solo, Eric Wynalda, Paul Caligiuri and Kyle Martino, attorneys Steve Gans and Michael Winograd, and Soccer United Marketing president Kathy Carter.
The election seemed to hinge on the Athletes’ Council vote from the start. The organization gets 20 percent of the vote and has historically voted together. There were reports on Friday night that the group was fractured, but minutes before the election, Grant Wahl reported that they’d decided to support Cordeiro.
Hearing that Athletes Council will vote as a bloc for Carlos Cordeiro. That's huge for him.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) February 10, 2018
No candidate was able to secure a majority on first ballot, with Carter and Cordeiro pulling away from the rest of the field. The so-called “gang of six” behind them failed to collectively secure 30 percent of the vote.
Paul Caligiuri dropped out after the first round, while Michael Winograd and Steve Gans went on to exit after losing support in the second round. There was no winner after the second ballot, but Cordeiro increased his lead.
In the third round, Cordeiro won comfortably, securing a vast majority of votes.
Cordeiro was elected as vice president at the 2016 U.S. Soccer annual general meeting and has served U.S. Soccer in various volunteer capacities for 10 years. Previously, he was a partner and vice president at Goldman Sachs.
Surprisingly, Cordeiro declared his intention to run for president of U.S. Soccer before exiting president Sunil Gulati announced that he would not run for re-election. Gulati was reportedly unhappy with this, and shortly after he decided not to run, SUM president Kathy Carter announced her candidacy. Gulati and MLS commissioner Don Garber reportedly lobbied voters to support Carter, not Cordeiro, Gulati’s right-hand man for the last two years.
Despite this, Cordeiro was often linked to Carter and portrayed as part of the same establishment during the election, due to the amount of time he’s spent with U.S. Soccer. However, Cordeiro was critical of the federation on his website, stating that “the U.S. Soccer Federation has often been too insular and failed to truly listen to all members of our community.”
Eventually, Cordeiro emerged as a compromise candidate. He matches Carter’s business experience, but not her deep connections to MLS and SUM. He wasn’t as vocal about the need for dramatic change as some of the other candidates, but his main campaign issue was a need for U.S. Soccer to return its focus to growing grassroots soccer. At the end of a heated campaign, Cordeiro did an excellent job of putting together a broad coalition, while the other candidates failed to win voters beyond their core base.
Cordeiro’s first orders of business that will be of interest to the general public will be leading the board in the process to hire a general manager. It’s unlikely that any decision will be made about a new U.S. men’s national team coach before that’s done.