ORLANDO, Fla. — As the hours tick down until Saturday’s election for United States Soccer Federation president, the race is beginning to show a bit more clarity.
Kathy Carter and Carlos Cordeiro are the clear frontrunners, with Carter in the lead heading into Saturday thanks to her built-in base from the Professional Council.
As for the much-reported alliance composed of the other six “change” candidates, the statement that was expected early Friday morning never arrived. Eric Wynalda said he would show solidarity with Hope Solo and Paul Caligiuri, but beyond that, everyone else was on their own.
Sources also told ESPN that the Athletes Council informed the six candidates that forming such an alliance wouldn’t help it secure votes.
While a last-second agreement could be crafted, that seems unlikely, and it’s not a surprise. Getting six people to agree on anything, much less during an election, is a challenge. And given the stipulation that the highest vote-getter among the six in the first round be given the votes of the trailing five in the second, that test proved unconquerable.
It’s not a criticism of any of the “change” candidates, but more the stark reality of how difficult coalition-building is.
The deal made the least amount of sense for Kyle Martino, who seems to be gaining some ground. If other candidates are compelled to drop out, it seems unlikely they would throw their votes to one of Carter or Cordeiro, so they are likely to eventually gravitate to Martino anyway, despite the apparent friction between him and Wynalda.
The fate of the Athletes Council and whom it will support remains an unknown. The AC met in the afternoon, and then for a second time later that evening. Details were sketchy, but a source from one of the campaigns used the word “fractured” to describe the proceedings. If that’s the case, and the AC is divided, then that would likely prevent Carter from winning on the first ballot, the odds of which had increased in recent days.
The good news for Cordeiro was that he picked up an endorsement from the board of US Youth Soccer. The bad news is that the move isn’t expected to trickle down to the state associations Saturday.
There was another disruption for Cordeiro as well. Earlier in the day during the USSF Board of Directors, a proposal was brought forth to reduce the player registration fees for adult players by 50 percent. This has long been championed by U.S. Adult Soccer Association president John Motta. But outgoing USSF president Sunil Gulati came out against the idea, citing the multimillion dollar hole it would create in the USSF’s budget.
The proposal was defeated by a vote of 16-3 with one abstention. Mundane stuff. But Cordeiro cast that abstaining vote.
While it seemed the right move considering the vote took place just a day before the election, several members of the Adult Council that ESPN FC spoke to were irritated at Cordeiro’s lack of support. How much that will erode his base is difficult to say, but given Carter’s momentum in recent days, it doesn’t help.
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.