Oh, to be back discussing whether Gregg Berhalter was calling the best players into camp again! Oh, to be living in a world where team moms and dads hadn’t threatened retribution on the coach of the United States men’s national team for not playing their child enough.
At a World Cup.
No, we cannot go back in time and undo the Reyna family-prodded investigation of Berhalter’s college years, the news that led to his contract running down and Anthony Hudson being installed as interim boss while director Earnie Stewart and general manager Brian McBride stepped down from their positions.
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But we can hope to the program is well on its way to a new coach as the program looks hard at its preparation for the 2026 World Cup set to be held in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Alas, before the USMNT can have a permanent head coach — whether new or not — the federation needs a new sporting director. Yes, It’s a time of upheaval at U.S. Soccer, whether Christian Pulisic, the team, and all of us like it or not.
Here’s what you need to know about the process of determining the next USMNT coach.
USMNT coaching search: Timeline, candidates
So, you might ask, what’s taking so long?
Well, there are i’s to dot and t’s to cross as the United States Soccer Federation makes sure it gets the right person in place for the future.
Stewart’s Feb. 15 departure for PSV Eindhoven was a good progression for the well-respected leader, who was previously technical director of NAC Breda and the director of football affairs for AZ Alkmaar.
That exit is a bit of a celebration for the Stewart family and an endorsement of the man hired by the USMNT years ago, but now means that any successor knows they take the helm of a federation with plenty of controversy inside a talented generation that did, remember, just reach the World Cup knockout rounds.
U.S. Soccer has hired a group called Sportsology to advise their sporting director search and conduct a “full review of U.S. Soccer’s sporting department. If you’re wondering what Sportsology is, here’s how the USSF describes the group:
“Sportsology Group specializes in providing premium knowledge, insight, strategic advisory and operational support to franchise owners, global leagues and federations. Sportsology will work together with U.S. Soccer leadership to take a holistic look at U.S. Soccer’s entire sporting department. The goal is to make sure U.S. Soccer’s sporting department is well-positioned to realize its vision for the future and support its ambitions during this pivotal time for the sport in the United States.”
Sportsology was started by former Chelsea director Mike Forde, who serves as executive chairman, and he’s aided by head of advisory services Joel Cohen, who Sportsology says has “worked intensively with major European football clubs, NBA, and NHL franchises,” and special projects director Chris Mann.
U.S. Soccer has announced that CEO JT Batson would oversee the leadership group once Stewart left for the Netherlands, and listed the following group members:
- Kate Markgraf, USWNT General Manager
- Barry Pauwels, Senior Director of Technical Development
- Elaine Lemos, Director of Sporting Operations
- Tom King, Managing Director of Administration
- Rick Cost, Director of High Performance
- Dan Russell, Senior Director of Sport Development
- George Chiampas, Chief Medical Officer
The searches for the sporting director — Oguchi Onyewu has been linked — and head coach are being run concurrently, but the sporting director will eventually choose the head coach. Got it? Good.
USMNT coaching candidates
Gregg Berhalter: Led the USMNT into the 2022 World Cup’s Round of 16, where it fell 3-1 to the Netherlands.
Jim Curtin: Longtime Philadelphia Union head coach has done a remarkable job shapeshifting the MLS club into an MLS power.
Jesse Marsch: Fired by Leeds United this winter, the notably emotive manager has had success in Europe with Red Bull Salzburg as well as in MLS with New York Red Bulls.
Thierry Henry: Former Belgium assistant and current domestic broadcaster — oh, he’s also one of the best to ever strike a ball — has been linked with taking the reins of USMNT.
Patrick Vieira: His recent firing by Crystal Palace and status as a respected MLS boss from his time at NYCFC makes him an intriguing late addition to the list.
Jose Mourinho: Currently doing quite well at AS Roma on several fronts, we all know that Mourinho rarely lasts long at a given stop.
Marcelo Bielsa: You want intensity and attention to detail? The former Leeds boss sure would be a splashy hire for the USMNT.
Steve Cherundolo: The original Captain America, Cherundolo is respected around the world and has shined inside of longtime club Hannover 96 in Germany. He led LAFC to the Supporters’ Shield last season.