Carlos Cordeiro on future of U.S. Soccer after winning presidential election

Newly elected USSF President Carlos Cordeiro talks to Grant Wahl and Alexi Lalas about U.S. Soccer.

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GRANT WAHL: Thanks, Kate. We're here with Carlos Cordeiro, the new US Soccer president. Congratulations, Carlos on your victory here in Orlando. Thank you, Grant.

GRANT WAHL: I wanted to start just by asking you a question. I was told that you visited eight to 10 states a week during this campaign, how many states did you visit to try and persuade state associations? And how much of a key to victory was that?

CARLOS CORDEIRO: Well, listen, this campaign was all about engaging with the membership. And the membership are, for the most part, our state associations. We have 110 spread across every state. And I don't really have a count, but I visited quite a few. And cities and states I'd never been to before. But, very exciting.

ALEXI LALAS: You are, and were, the vice-president of US Soccer. But, especially in the last couple of weeks, and correct me if I'm wrong, you really did a good job of trying to distance yourself from that insider tag and talking about your independence. So when you talk about change, give the people out there what we are going to see specifically when it comes to this change. Are you really a change agent and how is that going to manifest itself?

CARLOS CORDEIRO: Well, look, I think we're at a unique moment in history for soccer in America. I think we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform it into a truly preeminent sport. And I don't mean being four or five, but one or two. And I think this next decade is all about making that happen. And for that, we need to do a number of things. You're familiar with our World Cup bid. We're bidding to co-host the cup in 2026 with Canada and Mexico. That decision is barely four months away. And that will really define the next four years as far as soccer is in this country. It's going to re-energize the grassroots like never before, bring in millions of kids, girls and boys, into the sport. Hundreds of millions of dollars that we will use to basically grow our players. And so I think that is unique.

ALEXI LALAS: What about on the field? The US Men's National Team does not have a full-time coach right now, it's an interim situation right now. Are you supportive of having technical directors, GMs, whatever you want to call them, for both the men's team and the women's national team? And when do you think you will fill those positions, plus a coach for the men's team?

CARLOS CORDEIRO: Well, look, this is something that we have been discussing on the board now for some months, and I think you probably know that the board has actually approved. The hiring of two general managers, one for our women and one for our men, and that just happened a few weeks ago. So I'm in Chicago early next week to sit down with Dan and his folks and we'll be thinking about a plan. And in terms of what--

ALEXI LALAS: You think we'll have one before this summer?

CARLOS CORDEIRO: The general managers? I would hope so. I mean we certainly want to get a general manager before we get a coach. Yes.

GRANT WAHL: At times, Carlos, this was a fractious campaign, sometimes between the candidates, sometimes with what we heard from fans and supporters. How do you plan to repair some of that and how do you plan to repair your relationship with Sunil Gulati who you're going to be working with quite a bit moving forward?

CARLOS CORDEIRO: Well it was certainly a very spirited campaign. When when you have eight candidates running, with very different platforms, you're going to have a spirited campaign, a lot of discussion. But, look, I think we have to move on. This is now all about bringing people together. One soccer community and we have a lot to do. I've talked a lot about the World Cup bid. I think we've got to spend a lot of time on the grassroots, growing the grassroots. We can't have a country of 325 million with a stagnant membership. And I think a high priority for all of us now is to bring in all those unaffiliated, underserved youth into the ranks of US soccer.

GRANT WAHL: In terms of Gulati, who's going to be on the FIFA council, and involved with the bid for the World Cup, are you guys cool?

CARLOS CORDEIRO: Yeah, absolutely. I mean you heard the various members stand up this afternoon and commend Sunil for his years of service. Sunil will continue to be involved. He is a past president, he sits on our board and so we will be working together, absolutely.

ALEXI LALAS: What does the new President of the United States Soccer Federation do on the first night after you have won? What are you doing tonight?

CARLOS CORDEIRO: Can I sleep tonight?

ALEXI LALAS: No, you've got to get to work. You gonna have a party? Gonna have some drinks?

CARLOS CORDEIRO: We actually have a very special dinner tonight. It's a Hall of Famer dinner, so we are going to be bringing some of the Hall of Famers in. We have this Warner Fricker Award. So it's a special dinner, all of the membership will be there tonight. And, yeah, after that maybe a bit of a celebration.

ALEXI LALAS: Was this fun, this whole process?

CARLOS CORDEIRO: Yes, by and large. I've said before I spent the last 10 years of my life volunteering in US soccer, I've had various roles. Last two years as vice-m president. But this is the challenge that I wanted to take on. And as I said, I think we're at an inflection point for the sport. And we have a lot to do and I think you'll see a very different soccer within a decade.

ALEXI LALAS: The best of luck.

CARLOS CORDEIRO: Thank you.

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