Kyle Martino lost sleep over USMNT missing the World Cup and decided to make a bold move
PHILADELPHIA — What in the title of Cristiano Ronaldo would immediate Kyle Martino to run for the unpaid place of president of the U.S. Soccer Federation?
By all accounts, the former University of Virginia midfielder and MLS rookie of the yr was dwelling the dream: The solely American on-air character in NBC Sports’ protection of England’s Premier League; husband to former actress Eva Amurri, son-in-law to Hollywood star Susan Sarandon, father to two lovable youngsters and proprietor of that hair, that impossibly good hair, which has spawned a video function and social media parody account.
“A good life,” he mentioned.
And then Couva occurred.
That’s the city in Trinidad and Tobago the place, on the notorious night time of Oct. 10, the U.S. males’s nationwide staff failed to acquire even a draw towards a last-place opponent and, consequently, missed the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
With a uncommon alternative to be a fan, Martino had joined the Manhattan chapter of the American Outlaws supporters’ group at Smithfield Hall NYC on West 25th Street. They shared the place with Chilean followers, which made for a unhappy night as each groups had been eradicated.
“It was the most depressing place on the planet,” he mentioned. “I think their depression set in a little before ours.”
In subsequent days, Martino couldn’t shake it.
“My wife noticed I wasn’t sleeping and I was off,” he mentioned Friday. “I couldn’t figure out why I was still so upset. I think it was a bit of guilt.”
Guilt that the soccer help system from which he had benefited — as a youth participant in Westport, Conn., as a school participant in Charlottesville, as a six-year professional and as a 13-game nationwide staff participant — was shedding its approach and failing an rising soccer nation. Couva, he believed, was solely the tip of the iceberg.
“I felt I hadn’t done enough, from my pulpit, to stand up for the membership,” he mentioned. “The membership is what grows a soccer culture and we’re ignoring them.”
So in November, with an emphasis on fixing issues at the native degree in addition to the nationwide facet, he introduced he would enter the USSF’s presidential election, Feb. 10 in Orlando. He is amongst 4 former nationwide staff gamers — Eric Wynalda, Paul Caligiuri and Hope Solo are the others — and eight candidates in all looking for to succeed Sunil Gulati, who decided to not search a fourth time period in the aftermath of the nationwide staff’s fiasco.
Martino, who turns 37 subsequent month, is on go away from NBC. If he wins the election, he wouldn’t return.
In pursuit of the presidency, he has traveled the nation assembly with state associations and people deeply entrenched in the sport.
“I believe I can move this thing forward,” Martino mentioned. “I’m already performing in the approach I intend to govern. I admit I’m not an professional in all classes. I’m making it my full-time accountability to attain out to the membership to perceive what they want.
“Youth soccer is the hardest to impress and join. I’ve met with all of them. They aren’t as warring as we like to make it out. They’re warring as a result of they haven’t had good management. Now is the alternative to elect new management.”
Martino additionally has enlisted two of soccer’s largest retired names, Thierry Henry and David Beckham, to assist mould his platform and persuade a whole lot of voting delegates to select him. The different day, Henry flew to Philadelphia from London at Martino’s expense to attend the 13,000-strong coaches’ conference, which attracts directors and state soccer officers from all over.
“Sometimes we need someone outside the family,” Martino mentioned.
His marketing campaign slogan is “Everyone’s Game.” His manifesto is the “Progress Plan.” In it, he emphasizes the want to construct a permanent soccer tradition by way of the “grassroots soul of the sport,” and, like the different candidates, has mandated larger transparency in how the Chicago-based nonprofit operates, gender equality, Latino outreach and reducing the prices of youth soccer.
He additionally desires to deliver pleasure again into the youth recreation — “we’ve professionalized youth soccer.”
Martino is proposing hiring a technical director to oversee the nationwide groups. His friendship with Henry and Beckham, he mentioned, would assist open international doorways in the hunt for high-profile positions. (The males’s head teaching job has been open since Bruce Arena’s resignation after the Trinidad defeat.)
Martino acknowledges his age is a weak spot and there’s a notion of inexperience, although he does tout enterprise acumen as an investor in Mallorca, a Spanish third-division membership. The USSF is a $120 million enterprise with 150 staff and a $150 million surplus. A salaried chief government oversees enterprise selections and day-to-day operations in Chicago.
“I’ve got to learn on the job,” Martino mentioned.
Over the subsequent few weeks, he mentioned he’ll proceed welcoming suggestions from soccer’s rank and file.
“I’ll continue meeting with people and find out if I got it right,” he mentioned. “If not, let’s continue working on it.”