Many people upset over Klinsmann withdrawing from the USMNT coaching search have directed their ire at Sunil Gulati, the president of US Soccer. That ire is likely misplaced. The USSF is a non-profit corporation that is governed by a Board of Directors. There are 14 members (soon to be 15) and any decision as big as this would likely need board approval. However, beyond that, don’t forget that Gulati, as, president, is not the main person ‘in charge’. He represents the USSF to the world, but the day to day operations are overseen by Daniel Flynn, the CEO/Secretary General of US Soccer. While he is a board member, he cannot vote. But don’t let that fool you in terms of his power within the organization. Consider the job descriptions in the USSF Bylaws.

The President of the Federation shall have the following responsibilities:

(1) preside at all meetings of the National Council, the Board of Directors, and the Executive Committee and serve as Chairperson of the Board;
(2) appoint all committees as provided by Bylaw 431 and serve as an ex officio member of those committees;
(3) provide an annual report 30 days prior to the annual general meeting of the National Council; and
(4) to be or to delegate someone to be the official representative of the Federation in FIFA, CONCACAF, and other international organizations.

The Federation shall have a Secretary General. The Secretary General shall be appointed by the President, subject to the approval of the Board of Directors, and shall serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation with the authority to oversee the operations, management, and programs of the Federation.

The Secretary General has the following responsibilities:

(1) subject to approval of the Board of Directors, coordinate and administer the development and selection of players to participate in Pan American, Olympic, World Cup championships and international competitions.
(2) attend all meetings of the National Council, the Board of Directors, and the Executive Committee, and maintain records and minutes related to those meetings.
(3) maintain all records and correspondence of the Federation.
(4) ensure that notices of meetings are distributed in accordance with these bylaws.
(5) prepare and distribute an annual report to the members of the National Council at least 30 days before the annual general meeting of the Council.
(6) subject to the approval of the Board of Directors, maintain Federation staff that is provided under the Federation budget, to carry out programs and activities of the Federation and the responsibilities of the Secretary General.

Note the sections highlighted. Considering the problems that led to Klinsmann’s withdrawl are commonly believed to be over control AND section 6 pointing to the CEO maintaining the staff, any agreement would need Daniel Flynn’s approval and I expect he’d be the led negotiator in terms of the fine print.

Sure, Gulati was heavily involved in this search, mostly in terms of recruitment. But the deal apparently fell apart over the fine print and based on this organizational structure, the fine print would be Daniel Flynn’s area.

Still not convinced? Read Flynn’s bio on the USSF Board of Directors page which also highlights what the Secretary General/CEO does:

In his five years as the organization’s Secretary General, Flynn has overhauled U.S. Soccer’s business framework, leading to among otherthings the development and construction of U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., which opened in June 2003.

With a renewed focus on National Team and player development, as well as facility development, more and more opportunities are arising for youth players of all ages, highlighted by the addition of a number of Youth National Team programs and an increase to 40 players at the U-17 Men’s National Team’s residency program in Bradenton, Fla.

Uh huh. Who do you think Klinsmann was having to fight for control over national and youth player development? It probably wasn’t Gulati. While it likely could have been the board of directors, you’d need a block of 8 members to block any such deal. While Daniel Flynn doesn’t have a vote, he’s the CEO and would be the person bringing the head coach offer to the board. If he wasn’t happy with the agreement, he wouldn’t approve it and bring it to the board.

My guess? Flynn was the holdup here and didn’t want to cede control over certain areas to the new USMNT head coach, ala Bruce Arena, so Klinsmann walked away.

UPDATE: Another possible reason. It’s all about the control…