Hey, U.S. Soccer: It’s Time to Trim Your Branches

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A fresh perspective is needed to take the next step.

It’s nowhere but up from here for the national team. (Photo via USA Today)

By Francisco Terreros, @fterreros

As a child, while visiting my grandfather, I was taught a valuable lesson. In his garden, he had an avocado tree, which he had been growing for quite some time. Unfortunately, the tree was dying, so he began cutting large branches off. I quickly questioned his decision.

“I thought you loved this tree? Why are you trying to kill it?” I asked him. His reply would forever be a lesson to me.

“Sometimes you need to trim the branches off of a dying tree for it to grow stronger.”

Like many of you, I watched in shock as Bruce Arena resigned as the coach of USMNT, while absorbing the blame for the team’s inability to reach the 2018 World Cup. President Sunil Gulati quickly followed by saying, “I take full responsibility.” Yet, when asked if he would resign, he expressed his intent to not only stay, but run for re-election next year.

We need to trim this branch. It is unacceptable that we as USMNT fans have been content with mediocrity for this long.

At the moment, there are eight declared candidates for next year’s USSF election.

Gulati, who has been uncontested for presidency since 2006. His prodigy and current Vice President, Carlos Cordeiro. U.S. international, Paul Caligiuri. MLS and U.S. legend, Eric Wynalda. Attorney, Steven Gans. Attorney, Michael Winograd. UPSL Northeast Conference Manager, Paul LaPointe. And U.S. international and MLS legend, Kyle Martino.

First, let’s remind ourselves that the U.S.Soccer Federation is a nonprofit organization, and therefore the position of president is an unpaid elected candidate. Second, the voting will take place this February at the USSF annual general meeting in Orlando, Florida. Third, you and I cannot vote. Only those a part of the National Council voting structure have voting rights.

If you are interested in the breakdown of the voting council, here you go. If not, skip to the next paragraph:

Youth Council: 25.8%

U.S. Youth, U.S. Club, American Youth Soccer Association and Soccer Association for Youth.

Adult Council: 25.8%

USASA -state leagues and associations.

Professional Council: 25.8%

Major League Soccer, National Women’s Soccer League, United Soccer League and North American Soccer League.

Athlete Council: 20%

Currently elected representatives.

Other: 2.6%

USSF board members, Individual Sustaining Members (Two representatives from the U.S. Soccer fan members) and other affiliate associations.

But if I could, I would pledge my vote to Kyle Martino. And here is why:

Although he is working on his ‘progress plan’, Kyle came in strong as he declared his candidacy on November 6, 2017, with three core believes: Transparency, equality and progress.


Transparency:

Kyle intends to start his presidency by hosting a paid, external audit. The audits intention is to do just that — a pulse-check on where we are and what needs to be modified.

He will also be pushing for USSF presidency to be a full-time and paid position.


Equality:

Equal treatment is a very hot topic in female soccer, not only in the United States but around the FIFA world. Kyle is a big believer that women should be treated equally as men, with fair and equal compensation, playing conditions and more. If Norway can do it, so can the no. 1 ranked women’s soccer team in the world!

Kyle also wants to tackle ‘pay-to-play’ for our youth system and erase any financial boundaries to ensure all youth have equal opportunities.


Progress:

He intends to make the United States a world soccer powerhouse, and if he fails, he will resign. “If our men’s national team fails to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, I will do the right thing and step aside. I will do the same if we miss the quarterfinals in 2026. Likewise for the women, but with a higher standard: the semifinal round in all international tournaments from 2023 on.”


Kyle Martino has a long road ahead of him. He has to navigate through a very old and complicated political American soccer structure. He will hit some roadblocks, some opposition, some questioning, but as he stated in his candidacy letter, “A massive challenge like this has to be approached with the right balance of humility and temerity.”

Our U.S. Soccer tree has been slowly dying for a while now and we need a gardener with a new perspective. We need someone who has been part of the system as a player, and someone who has a network to back him up. We need someone to trim the branches, so one day we can all take advantage of its fruits.


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