The US national team’s shocking ouster from 2018 World Cup qualification on Tuesday night was a hammer blow for players and fans – and US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, too.
“We certainly expected to qualify, throughout the process, and especially after Friday night,” Gulati told the New York Times at Ato Bolden Stadium in Couva, Trinidad after the USMNT’s 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago, alluding to the team’s 4-0 trouncing of Panama four days prior.
“It’s a huge disappointment for everybody; the players, the staff, the coaches, the federation. It’s not good enough.”
The magnitude of the failure has quickly prompted some pundits and supporters to call for a sweeping overhaul of the architecture of the national-team program and its affiliated entities, but Gulati took issue with such sentiments in the immediate aftermath.
“You don't make wholesale changes based on the ball being 2 inches wide or 2 inches in,” he said in remarks reported by ESPNFC, referring to a late shot by Clint Dempsey that would’ve leveled the match and booked the USMNT’s qualification, only to hit the post.
“So we will look at everything, obviously, all of our programs, both the national team and all the development stuff. But we've got some pieces in place that we think are very good and are coming along.”
The federation’s president since 2006, Gulati is up for re-election in February, should he decide to run again. If he does so, he’s expected to face multiple challengers for the post after running unopposed in his previous presidential elections. He declined to address his plans on that on Tuesday.
“It's not a decision for me to think about tonight,” said Gulati.