Talking Soccer: US Soccer has a new president and a steep challenge ahead

Cordeiro becomes the first president with Latino roots, and at the heart of his platform is the desire to make the game more inclusive and accessible for minorities and low income families. (Twitter/@CACSoccer)

Carlos Codeiro was chosen as the new president of the US Soccer Federation last Saturday with the athlete’s council swinging the race in his favor.

The race for the presidency brought eight candidates in a long race with media appearances and a cry for change after the United States failed to make it to this summer’s World Cup.

At the end, it was an insider who had spent two years as vice president of the federation who was chosen to succeed Suni Gulati, who declined to run for this election.

Cordeiro is not a “soccer man;” he is a business man and an immigrant who came to South Florida with his mother and three siblings when he was 15 years old. He was able to use the “American system,” as he calls it, to succeed in his career.

A Harvard graduate, he’s a former Goldman Sachs associate and came to the US Soccer Federation as an independent director specializing in budget matters.

He’s now in charge of the operations of US Soccer and a long list of grievances that heated the conversation around this election.

From the US Soccer failure to qualify to Russia, lawsuits from the North American Soccer League, pressure from the women’s national team for equal pay, a search committee for a new manager and head coach for the men’s team to a solution for the youth system—the list of seems impossible.

Cordeiro becomes the first president with Latino roots, and at the heart of his platform is the desire to make the game more inclusive and accessible for minorities and low income families.

Cordeiro tweeted what an honor it was to become the president, but more than that, he tweeted the exact same message in Spanish.

In December 2015, retired women’s super star Abby Wambach had controversial comments about the use of dual nationals by former head coach Jurgen Klinsman.

"The way that he has changed and brought in these foreign guys, it’s just not something that I believe in,” Wambach said.

These comments were met with anger from Colombian-American Alejandro Bedoya and Norwegian-American Mix Diskerud.

Then, last January US Soccer lost Jonathan Gonzales, a promising talent chose to play for Mexico, three months after the United States didn’t qualify for the World Cup.

Gonzales played for the United States since his U-14 years but chose to represent the country of his parents.

This was seen as a grotesque failure from the federation. Gonzales is not the only player that has been filtered out of the United States Youth System.

“I don’t think we have enough people in the federation who understand Hispanic or African-American communities to have conversations with them and make them feel like they’re part of the American soccer community,” Hugo Perez, former US Soccer player and youth system coach, said in a report by SBA Nation in which the incompetence of the US Soccer system shines through.

This all happened while Cordeiro was the vice president of the federation and because of this, many believe the revolution that US Soccer needed has been derailed.

Former US Soccer Goalkeeper Hope Solo, who was one of the candidates for the presidency, questioned the ability of Cordeiro to lead the federation to much needed change.

"I was a player for 20 years, and I saw first-hand what Carlos Cordeiro's idea of change is. You cannot, as a vice president, claim you are the lone voice for change while all of this happened under your watch. And you as delegates cannot buy that," Solo said. "He was part of a federation that generated millions of dollars off the backs of its players, and much of it off the back of its women's players, who have been the economic engine of this federation for years, yet treated like second-class citizens."

However, when it came to the election, the athelte’s council—a group of 20 players chosen by peers to bridge communications between athletes and federation—voted as a block and allowed Cordeiro to win the contest against Kathy Carter, the president of Soccer United Marketing for the Major League Soccer.

Stuart Holden, former US Soccer player, said he admired Cordeiro’s ideas and at the same time was working to get people who knew soccer to advise him.

“I was impressed with his ideas, his vision for the governance within U.S. soccer,” Holden said. “I also loved that he was vulnerable in saying he is not the smartest soccer guy in the room and he wants to find the smartest soccer guys. That resonated strongly.”

On Tuesday, Feb. 13, Cordeiro will be in New York trying to form a platform to secure a joint bid with Mexico and Canada for the 2026 World Cup. 

Cordeiro started as one of the most unpopular choices for president. He was able to change the minds of the voters. He has now a tall order to prove and must be able to meet the demands of the critics.


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.