With the U.S. Soccer Federation’s presidential election a month away, Eric Wynalda has approached Kyle Martino about forging an alliance to help ensure that one of the candidates is elected, multiple sources told the Insider.
In separate interviews Friday, both confirmed they have spoken to one another recently but both declined to offer details.
Wynalda, a Hall of Fame forward who has gained support by promising major changes in the way the sport’s governing body operates, said he did not want to comment about any possible deals with any of the eight candidates. The election will take place Feb. 10 in Orlando, with the winner succeeding Sunil Gulati, who is not seeking reelection after 12 years in the influential post.
Martino, who stepped aside from his job as an NBC Sports analyst in order to enter the race, has also called for change to the USSF, which has come under fire from many directions in the wake of the U.S. national team’s failure to qualify for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
“I have a high opinion of Kyle and it would be something I would definitely encourage if it meant one or the other was going to win the election,” Wynalda said. “I would certainly consider it. If he and I need to partner up, I would be in favor of that simply because we are both agents of change.”
Wynalda, 48, and Martino, 36, are among four former players in the race. The others are Paul Caligiuri and Hope Solo. Two soccer executives, Kathy Carter and Carlos Cordeiro, and two attorneys with soccer backgrounds, Steve Gans and Michael Winograd, are also vying for the unpaid job.
Although there’s no way to accurately forecast how the hundreds of delegates will vote, Wynalda and Carter seem to have generated the most support, followed by Martino and Cordeiro. Martino’s backing might provide the bump that pushes Wynalda across the finish line.
Asked about a possible alliance with Wynalda, Martino said: “I have a lot of respect for the way Eric has brought both the need for change and the need for deep soccer knowledge to the forefront of this campaign. I have met with Eric and will continue to meet with any and all candidates who share these common beliefs.
“But to be clear, I haven’t agreed to anything. There is a lot of time between now and February 10th, and my focus is on filling my days with as many conversations with delegates as time allows and on preparing for next weekend’s debate.”
The debate will take place next Saturday as part of the annual United Soccer Coaches convention in Philadelphia.
It’s unclear how exactly an alliance between those two candidates would work. USSF candidates do not have running mates. Cordeiro is the current vice president and is not up for reelection this year.
Presumably, one would step aside and urge his supporters to vote for the other while accepting a role in implementing shared ideas. For Martino, it would allow him to resume full-time work for NBC Sports while having a voice in the USSF’s new direction. Similarly, Wynalda would re-focus on his role as a Fox Sports commentator and coach while helping enact Martino’s plans.