By Michael Lewis
Eight members of the U.S. Soccer board of directors have called for a special meeting to discuss the history of hiring of U.S. national team coaches.
Those board members Wednesday sent signed letters to U.S. CEO/secretary general Dan Flynn, requesting the special meeting, according to two sources within the U.S. soccer community.
Special meetings are rare. The board last met on Sept. 1 and the next meeting is set for Dec. 3.
The date of the special meeting has not been established yet, although it could come late next week at U.S. Soccer House in Chicago, one source said.
The special meeting needs to have a topic of discussion, as per U.S. Soccer regulations.
According to a source, that topic is to accrue information on the history of hiring U.S. national team coaches and clarity of the process. That includes how head coaches have been vetted and how contracts were made, a discussion on how the board can participate more in the selection process or whether it should put policies or guidelines together, the source said.
Expected to be discussed would be the hiring and firing of former U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, whose dismissal cost the federation millions of dollars in a payout, one source said.
With a presidential election scheduled for U.S. Soccer’s Annual General Meeting in Orlando Feb. 8-11, the board wants to ensure there are guidelines in place on whoever is president to select the new coach.
Incumbent president Sunil Gulati has not announced whether he will run for a fourth term. Several challengers have declared their intentions to pursue the position.
It could turn out to be an intriguing special meeting. According to one source, there seems “to be quite a division that I haven’t seen in the past” among board members.
U.S. Soccer has been without a head coach after Bruce Arena resigned in wake of the team’s failure to qualify for its eighth consecutive World Cup in Russia 2018. Arena was hired in 2016 after Klinsmann was sacked when the U.S. lost its first two matches of the CONCACAF Hexagonal. Dave Sarachan, long-time assistant coach to Arena, will direct the team as interim coach in Portugal Nov. 14.
The U.S. board of directors:
Sunil K. Gulati
Executive Vice President
Immediate Past President (non-voting)
Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia
Chris Ahrens, Carlos Bocanegra, Angela Hucles
Pro Council Representatives
Don Garber, Steve Malik
Adult Council Representatives
Richard Moeller, John Motta
Youth Council Representatives
Jesse Harrell, Tim Turney
At Large Representative
Donna E. Shalala, Val Ackerman, Lisa Carnoy
CEO/Secretary General (non-voting)