MLS, USMNT legend Eric Wynalda mulling run for US Soccer presidency

Eric Wynalda while coaching Atlanta

Former MLS and US national team star Eric Wynalda is weighing a run for president of the U.S. Soccer Federation in next year’s election.

Wynalda, who represented the US in three World Cups and scored the first goal in MLS history, has maintained a prominent national profile, serving as a broadcaster, head coach and technical director since retiring in 2002. Today he works as a studio analyst for international and domestic soccer broadcasts on FOX Sports.

“I’ve stood back for two decades waiting for things to get better," Wynalda told The Guardian. "Out of moral obligation, I think I’m finally at the point where I’m asking, ‘What can I do to help?’ I don’t want to tweet something or write an article or start a fight. I want to roll up my sleeves.”

Laying out his case for changes in the federation’s leadership, one of Wynalda's areas of focus is talent development.

“Just because the masses are playing the sport, they think success is going to magically happen some day by accident,” he said. “Sometimes it does – a Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, or Christian Pulisic happens – but that is not good enough. Coming 18th at a World Cup is not a success story.”

“People are no longer just interested or curious about soccer in the US. They are passionate. This is the moment to really give these people who are in love with the game a better product.”

If he formally launches a campaign, Wynalda would join the most crowded presidential race in years. The field includes incumbent Sunil Gulati, though the longtime USSF executive has not officially confirmed he will seek reelection. Two other candidates, Boston-based attorney Steve Gans and former indoor league executive Paul Lapointe, recently announced their intentions to seek the presidency.

US Soccer’s president is elected to four-year terms. Gulati first took office in 2006 and has run unopposed in every election since. The next election takes place at the federation’s annual general meeting in February 2018. Should Gulati run and win again, recently adopted term limits would make the next term his final one.