Los Angeles (AFP) – Landon Donovan, the all-time goals co-leader for the United States national team, is considering running for president of the US Soccer Federation, Sports Illustrated and ESPN reported Wednesday.
The 35-year-old striker, who last played for the American squad in 2014, would be a potential challenger to incumbent Sunil Gulati, who last week refused to resign in the wake of the US men failing to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Gulati, an India-born American, said he had not decided about running again but would come to a decision in the coming weeks if he felt he should be the one to lead the US program into the next World Cup cycle.
Gulati has had the job for 12 years and been unopposed in three prior elections for the presidency.
Donovan shares the all-time US team scoring lead with Clint Dempsey, each having netted 57 goals. Donovan retired after the 2015 season but made a comeback in 2016 only to retire for good earlier this year.
Two candidates have said they will seek the presidency of the US governing body, Boston attorney Steve Gans and Massachusetts businessman Paul Lapointe.
Candidates must submit application paperwork to the federation by December 12 for the election to be conducted February 10 at the federation’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.
Candidates must also have nominations and Gulati said last week he had started seeking such support from voting members.
Donovan played for the red, white and blue in three World Cups but was left off the 2014 squad by then-coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who was fired last November after the Americans opened the final round of regional World Cup qualifying with losses to Mexico and Costa Rica.
Bruce Arena returned to guide the squad but a 2-1 loss last week at Trinidad and Tobago saw them fail to qualify for the first time since 1986. Arena resigned as coach last week.
Donovan told the New York Times after the US loss that it was a “dark day” and said the US needed to improve the talent pool of American youth turning to the sport.
“We are missing a lot of the best kids and that should not be the situation in a country of this size, with the resources we have, where kids are getting passed over for any reason,” Donovan told the newspaper. “There’s no easy answer to that but it’s something that needs to be fixed.”
Donovan said it’s time “to re-evaluate and reassess what’s going on and make sure we are doing the right things and implementing the right things to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Sometimes when these things happen, that’s when you have the real impetus and chance for change.”