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Las Vegas Lights coach Wynalda sounds off during soccer shutdown

On Tuesday of this nonsporting week, Eric Wynalda posted a video on social media. It showed him dribbling a roll of toilet tissue as if it were a soccer ball.

The Las Vegas Lights FC coach and former U.S. Men’s National Team goal sniper hasn’t gone stir crazy amid the shutdown of sports during the coronavirus pandemic.

But he’s inching a little closer to the touchline.

Because he lacked for something better to do, he spent 30 minutes and 32 seconds (according to the counter on my cellphone) Thursday morning talking with me, a casual follower of “The Beautiful Game.”

He began by saying he’s not hoarding toilet tissue, despite what that video suggests. He said Mrs. Wynalda has a Costco card and always buys toilet tissue (and bacon) in bulk.

As for his team, “instead of sitting on the couch playing video games and eating doughnuts” Lights players are honing their skills in solitary fashion while they are practicing social distancing.

“Our doctors have bought some air purifiers that will clean the air of any virus that could be airborne,” Wynalda said. “We clean our facility every day even though we’re not in it.”

There’s a first time for everything at Cashman Field.

“It’s hard because we’ve got guys bored out of their minds, sitting at home,” said Wynalda, whose squad got in one USL game — a 1-1 road tie against San Diego Loyal — before the men in Hazmat suits were summoned.

“There are people on our team that come from other countries. The only social interaction they have is when they get to be part of the team. You take that away from them, and they’re a little lost.

”Guys from Malawi (forward Yamikani Chester), Burundi (defender Chancel Ndaye), it’s a difficult time for them.”

Red card for Cordeiro

Wynalda also had some interesting things to say about the resignation of Carlos Cordeiro as president of the U.S. Soccer Federation on March 12 — the same day the NBA postponed games until further notice, the NCAA shuttered March Madness and the rest of the sports world followed suit

Nobody is happy about any of this. But the virus threat surely deflected attention away from Cordeiro’s ham-handed reaction to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Women’s National Team demanding the same pay as the men’s side.

Lawyers for the federation claimed in briefs that the men’s players have more responsibility than their female counterparts, and that playing men’s soccer “requires a higher level of skill based on speed and strength.”

The next day, Cordeiro resigned.

Wynalda could have said “I told you so.” He had campaigned for the president’s job that went to Cordeiro on a platform that included equal compensation for the women.

“I supported Carlos after the election,” Wynalda said. “One of the things I spoke to Carlos about is you need to handle this situation with the women. What I was really angry about during the election was just the sentiment they’re not as important as the men. The older regime was not interested in the idea of equal pay and/or fair treatment.

“They’re world champions for cryin’ out loud. To watch it all unfold is discouraging. I truly believe in the event I were elected president, we wouldn’t be having this lawsuit.”

Wynalda chuckled. He said U.S. Soccer probably has spent more money defending itself in this lawsuit than what the women were requesting.

“That money would have been much better spent honoring our women,” he said. “It was my No. 1 priority. My biggest disappointment in the election was that I didn’t get my message across. Or maybe they felt I wasn’t capable of delivering on that promise.”

But none it of it matters for now. Not with this virus sweeping the country and causing more anxiety than Leo Messi running unmarked in the 18-yard box.

Eric Wynalda said his oldest daughter, Brooke, is on her way to Las Vegas from Seattle, where she was a resident assistant in a University of Seattle dormitory. He said when she arrives, there will be eight Wynaldas under the same roof for the first time not counting major holidays.

The toilet tissue probably is going to be flying.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter

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