Martino joins race for US soccer top job

Christian Pulisic.(Getty Images)
Christian Pulisic.(Getty Images)

Los Angeles - Former Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Kyle Martino on Monday joined the crowded field vying for the presidency of the United States Soccer Federation in the wake of the country's 2018 World Cup debacle.

Martino, best known in the US as an analyst for NBC television, said he had decided to challenge for the USSF presidency after the result of "many conversations" in recent weeks.

The 36-year-old will take a break from his work with NBC, which he described as his "dream job" in an effort to mount a successful bid to replace current incumbent Sunil Gulati.

"US Soccer is at the lowest point of its modern existence, with failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup merely a symptom of bigger issues," Martino said in a statement on his campaign website.

"We need a change, not just of direction but of vision and ambition. It's time to put soccer back at the centre of the United States Soccer Federation."

Soccer in the United States was left reeling last month after a humiliating loss to Trinidad and Tobago in their final 2018 World Cup qualifying game saw them fail to reach next year's finals in Russia.

Next year's tournament will mark the first time since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico that the United States have failed to feature.

Martino said the World Cup collapse was a symptom of a wider malaise across US soccer.

"When a nation of more than 300 million fails to qualify for the World Cup, it's not because of a few bad bounces on a less-than-perfect pitch, it's because of systemic failures across all levels of the game," he said.

Martino said his presidency would be defined by delivering success at international level, saying he would resign if the men's team failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup or failed to reach the quarter-finals of the 2026 competition.

Nomination for next February's USSF election must be confirmed by December.

So far USSF president Gulati has not said if he plans to run again for what would be a fourth four-year term.

Last week, USSF vice-president Carlos Cordeiro announced he planned to run, joining former international Eric Wynalda and Boston-based attorney Steve Gans in the field.

Unlike many of his rivals, Gans, who has four decades of involvement in US soccer as a player, attorney and advisor, had announced his challenge before the US World Cup exit.

Others in the field include Mike Winograd, former international Paul Caligiuri and Paul Lapointe.

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