ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Carlos Cordeiro was elected president of the U.S. Soccer Federation on Saturday, assuming control of an organization that must chart a new course after its men’s team failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup.
Cordeiro has been the right-hand man of outgoing president Sunil Gulati. He now is charged with running the U.S. end of a bid with Mexico and Canada for the right to host the 2026 World Cup.
He won on the third ballot with 68.6 percent of the vote.
‘‘This is incredibly humbling,’’ said Cordeiro, the USSF vice president the past two years.
The vote initially featured eight candidates. Cordeiro pulled away from Kathy Carter, on-leave president of Major League Soccer’s marketing arm. She had the backing of MLS Commissioner Don Garber and narrowly trailed Cordeiro on the first ballot.
The other candidates were: former men’s national team players Paul Caligiuri, Kyle Martino and Eric Wynalda, lawyers Steve Gans and Michael Winograd and former U.S. women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo.
All of the challengers to Cordeiro and Carter — both with close ties to Gulati — campaigned on platforms calling for change within the organization. All eight were given five minutes to address delegates before voting began.
‘‘The two establishment candidates, Carlos Cordeiro and Kathy Carter, haven’t just been part of the system, they have created and shaped into what it is today,’’’ Solo said. ‘‘A vote for either one of them is a vote for the status quo.’’
Cordeiro, however, said he was the only candidate with the experience and plan to ‘‘hit the ground running on day and deliver the change we need.’’
‘‘We have made progress, but we need to make more. Today, the status quo is unacceptable,’’ Cordeiro said. ‘‘U.S. Soccer needs to change, transformational change. This vote comes down to one simple question: Who can actually deliver that change?’’
Cordeiro immediately takes over for Gulati, who decided against seeking a fourth four-year term after the U.S. was unable to make the 32-team World Cup field in Russia. Gulati will retain a role as a member of the USSF board and the FIFA executive council, and as chairman of the North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
Carter’s support among delegates attending USSF’s annual general meeting slipped each round — from 34.6 percent to 33.3 on the second ballot, to 10.6 on the third, when the field had shrunk to five.
Cordeiro’s percentage increased each round of the body’s first contested election in nearly two decades, rising from 36.3 to 41.8 on the second ballot.
To win election, Cordeiro needed a majority of the weighted vote. Under U.S. law, 20 percent of the vote is from the athletes’ council while the professional, adult and youth councils each has 25.8 percent.
The remaining 2.6 percent represents other constituents, such as board members, life members and fan representatives.
Caligiuri withdrew from the race after receiving less than 1 percent on the initial ballot. Winograd and Gans bowed out after the second ballot, leaving Wynalda (10.8), Martino (10.2) and Solo (1.5) in the race with Cordeiro and Carter. Martino drew 10.6 percent on the final ballot, while Wynalda and Solo received 8.9 and 1.4, respectively.