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SportsPulse: Martin Rogers believes the World Cup group stage is filled with plenty of drama, potential Cinderella stories and star-studded matchups. So much so you’ll forget the U.S. isn’t in it.
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Sunil Gulati will not run for another term as president of U.S. Soccer, ending his 12-year reign at the top of an organization whose latest sweeping disappointment — failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup — increased pressure on him to leave.

Gulati, who has spent three decades working in some capacity to further the organization and the U.S. men’s national team, told ESPN on 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. 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 team’s loss to Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 10 brought critics from all sides as the U.S. missed qualifying for the first time since 1986.

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While Gulati has weighed his options and other names have bubbled to the surface that many believe would make for better leadership, Gulati said the one loss became too much to overcome.

“Look, the general perception in the soccer community versus the people who vote in elections may be different right now,” Gulati told ESPN.

“But the loss to Trinidad was painful, regrettable and led to a lot of strong emotions. And to be honest, I think at this point, that’s overshadowed a lot of other things that are important. So fair or not, I accept that and think it’s time for a new person.

“There are mixed emotions about it, to be sure. This was a very, very hard decision for me to make.”

Meanwhile, Gulati failed to immediately endorse a successor. He will continue to hold a seat on the FIFA Council and remains steadfast in his efforts to bring the 2026 World Cup to the U.S.

Among those who have been mentioned as possible candidates are former men’s team players Eric Wynalda, Kyle Martino and Paul Caligiuri; Boston attorney Steve Gans; soccer administrator Paul Lapointe; and Carlos Cordeiro, a friend of Gulati.

In a statement emailed to USA TODAY Sports, Martino said: 

“This is the right…