US Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro – 2026 will inspire generations

Carlos Cordeiro has served on U.S. Soccer's board of directors since 2007 and was appointed as Vice President in 2016.

In February, he was elected as U.S. Soccer President, winning 68.6 percent of the vote on the third ballot after a campaign built on a vision to grow the game at all levels and make soccer the pre-eminent sport in America.

Calacus caught up with the new President to find out more about his plans to grow U.S. Soccer and secure the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2026.

1.    What made you decide to stand as a candidate to become US Soccer President?

I’m a lifelong fan and have been a volunteer at the U.S. Soccer Federation for a decade. I saw that we had had many successes, but that we also faced a number of challenges in growing the game in the United States.  

Like many people, I believed that we needed change, including new leadership. I ran to bring a more transparent and inclusive style of governance to the Federation so that we can work together to address our most pressing priorities, including growing the grassroots game and investing in world-class national teams.

2.    You’ve been involved with US Soccer for many years – what has worked well or needs improving, away from just the men’s international team?

One of our top priorities is youth soccer and strengthening the pathways for player development.  

On the one hand, we’ve attracted millions of young people to the game.  On the other hand, our youth soccer landscape is too fractured.

We need to continue to find ways to make the sport more affordable through scholarships and grants and bring more young people — especially from underprivileged and diverse communities — into our ranks.

At the same time, we also need to create more pathways to develop the next generation of elite players.  

3.    You were seen as continuing the status quo given your association with former President Sunil Gulati – how did you reassure voters that you would do things differently?

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m fiercely independent. I first started volunteering with the Federation as an independent director — an outsider tasked with giving my honest and impartial advice.  

As Vice President, I worked hard for reforms to make the Federation more accountable. As I mentioned, one of the main reasons I ran for President was to bring about a more open, transparent and inclusive style of leadership.  

After all, our Federation is a membership organization. As a candidate, I pledged to be a genuine partner with our members — to listen, to be inclusive and to work together in a spirit of collaboration.  And that’s what I’m doing as President.       

4.    The Women’s game in the US is the best in the world – how can the men’s game catch up both domestically and internationally?

In the short term, we are committed to hiring General Managers for both the Men and Women’s National Teams who will be responsible for recruiting, selecting and managing our National Team coaches.  

Additionally, we believe in the importance of soccer expertise to contribute to the improvement of the sport at all levels.  We’re in the process right now of identifying candidates for the GM positions.  

Over the long term, we have been focused on improving the sporting development areas, which includes coaching education, player and club development, player identification and high performance.

Focusing on these technical areas will allow us to provide the next generation of players with the best possible environment to develop and reach the highest levels of the game. 

5.    How will you build a single soccer movement in the US where presently there is a perception of fragmentation and discord?

Most immediately, we need to demonstrate that we’re not only focused on the “top” of the U.S. Soccer pyramid — our national teams — but that we’re also deeply committed to the success of all members of our soccer community, especially youth and adult soccer.  

That starts at the highest levels of the Federation, with the President, which is why I’ve made it clear that youth and adult soccer will have a seat at the table — that decisions that affect them will be made in partnership with them.  

We need to invest more in all players at all levels, especially youth and adult soccer.  

6.    The US hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1994 – but it did not spike interest in soccer in the way it hoped to – how important is it that the US secures the right to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026?

Actually, past World Cups in the United States were major forces in helping to grow soccer in America to the level it’s at today.

The FIFA World Cup in 1994 provided the platform to attract interest and ultimately ownership in professional soccer, which in turn helped fuel the phenomenal growth of Major League Soccer.  

The 1999 Women’s World Cup inspired a generation of female athletes and boosted our women’s programs, including our Women’s National Team, which is a three-time, reigning World Cup champion.  

I’m so passionate about bringing the 2026 FIFA World Cup to North America because it will inspire a new generation of players across the United States and generate more investment in the sport, helping us to grow the game at all levels, especially our grassroots.

7.    How close is soccer to becoming a huge mainstream sport in the US?

At youth level, soccer is already a huge mainstream sport. Soccer is often ranked as the second most played sport among youth, behind only basketball.  

According to one recent poll, among younger Americans, soccer roughly ties with basketball as the most popular sport to watched sport. The same poll found that, among all Americans, soccer is now the fourth most watch and is coming close to overtaking baseball to become the third most popular spectator sport.

In other words, soccer is more popular than ever.

That’s why I believe that we have an incredible opportunity in the coming decade to more deeply weave soccer into the fabric of our country.  

And at the U.S. Soccer Federation, our long-term goal remains the same — to make soccer the preeminent sport in America.