For the first time since 2006, U.S. Soccer will have a new president leading the charge.
Longtime president Sunil Gulati told ESPNFC that he will not seek re-election in February, pulling himself out of a race that continues to change and add new wrinkles ahead of the Dec. 12 deadline for candidates to submit the necessary nominations in order to run.
Gulati has been U.S. Soccer president since 2006 and has run unopposed in subsequent elections since then. The U.S. men's national team's failure to qualify for the World Cup put him firmly on the hot seat, and though he stated in the immediate aftermath that he would take full accountability for the debacle, he neglected to resign or state that he was not running for president again–until Monday.
"I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and talking about it with people in many different positions–many of whom told me I should run," Gulati told ESPNFC. "But in the end, I think the best thing for me personally, and for the federation, is to see someone new in the job."
The development comes a couple of days after SI's Grant Wahl reported that Gulati was strongly considering stepping out of the race and backing Kathy Carter, the president of Soccer United Marketing.
Carter has yet to formally announce a campaign to run, but she would be the only woman in a field that currently includes former U.S. player and NBC Sports analyst Kyle Martino; former U.S. player and Fox Sports analyst Eric Wynalda; former U.S. player Paul Caligiuri; current U.S. Soccer vice president Carlos Cordeiro; New York-based lawyer Michael Winograd; Massachusetts youth soccer official Paul Lapointe and Boston-based lawyer Steve Gans.
The election will be held on Feb. 10 at U.S. Soccer's annual general meeting in Orlando, Florida.
For Gulati, he won't be out of the game by any means. He maintains his place on the FIFA Council and is a lead figure on the bid to bring the 2026 World Cup to the USA, Mexico and Canada.