ORLANDO, Fla. — After Carlos Cordeiro won the U.S. Soccer presidential election Saturday, attention turned to how he won. And most discussions centered on the Athletes Council, which accounted for 20 percent of the overall vote and threw its entire weight behind Cordeiro by deciding to vote as a bloc.
Social media erupted in disappointment with how the Athletes Council voted and that only 12 of its 20 members showed up to Saturday’s election at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld.
One of the eight missing athletes received the most criticism: Orlando City defender Jonathan Spector.
How could he not show up when he lives in Orlando? Almost everyone following the election asked.
“Some of them did not fly into town — one of them lives here in Orlando — and they didn’t show up to exercise their right to vote,” losing candidate and former U.S. women’s national team goalkeeper Hope Solo said as part of a broader statement about the Athletes Council.
Seems odd that Athletes Council member Heather O'Reilly flew in from London to vote here in Orlando (and is flying back for an Arsenal game tomorrow) but members Brad Guzan (Atlanta) and Jonathan Spector (Orlando!) couldn't get here from low-significance MLS preseason.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) February 10, 2018
Spector played in a preseason friendly with Orlando City during the election. Shortly after, he addressed the criticism and questions about his commitment to the process in an exclusive interview with Pro Soccer USA.
“It’s a little bit disappointing that those things are being written without even being first asked,” Spector told Pro Soccer USA on Saturday afternoon. “No one knows the hours spent, conference calls, the discussions over the phone and in person with an number of the candidates and the time spent. So to question the integrity of that is really disappointing for me.
“I’m actually very proud of the council and the work that we’ve done. I don’t think anyone’s seen the level of commitment or engagement from the council, nor has anyone asked myself about that.”
Spector said he could not attend the official Athletes Council meeting that took place the day before the election due to training obligations with Orlando City, but he joined via conference call immediately after that session came to an end. He also said he joined the other council members for dinner that night to further discuss the vote and come to a decision.
Proud of the commitment and engagement of all the members of the Athlete Council. We voted as a bloc and are all unified behind Carlos Cordeiro.
— Jonathan Spector (@JSpector23) February 10, 2018
“No one’s seen that and no one’s asked,” Spector said. “We met for dinner. I met the group there and had some discussions about what was happening … and I tried to be as informed and as engaged as I could. We discussed all the various options. Ya know, it was a difficult decision, it wasn’t easy, but ultimately we came to the conclusion that we could get behind and be unified behind Carlos Cordeiro. As a president, we feel he’s someone who can step into the job from Day 1 and do it right away.”
He went on to say that he felt comfortable joining Orlando City for its preseason friendly Saturday because of the council’s decision to vote as a bloc. There was discussion around some of the other candidates who are former athletes — Hope Solo, Eric Wynalda, Paul Caligiuri and Kyle Martino — but in the end, he said he agreed with the rest of the council that Cordeiro had the necessary experience and was someone they could all rally behind.
Brad Guzan, Atlanta United and U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper, was another player who received backlash for his absence. Fellow members of the Athletes Council, such as Stu Holden and Carlos Bocanegra, were quick to jump to the defense of Spector and Guzan.
Athlete council decided to vote as a block to show strength and solidarity to all who participated in the process, and could not attend.
— Carlos Bocanegra (@BocaBoca3) February 10, 2018
“For me, this was a way to fulfill both commitments,” Spector concluded. “I was engaged throughout the entire process and express my opinions and we decided to vote as a bloc. So, I don’t really hold those remarks in any sort of regard or put any weight behind those.
“Look, if it was the other way around and I was at that meeting, my commitment to my club team would then be questioned. So, it’s a no-win situation, it’s a catch 22 and I did the very best I could in this situation.”