How Ronald Koeman’s Southampton tenure unraveled quickly

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May 15: Southampton finished sixth in the Premier League, qualified for the 2016-17 Europa League campaign and Ronald Koeman was lauded for delivering Saints’ highest-ever finish and points tally in the PL era for the second-straight season.

Days later, it was clear Koeman’s head was elsewhere and a few weeks later he’s on the verge of joining Everton as their new manager.

[ MORE: How Saints plan to crack US

In the past 10 days speculation has been rife that Koeman, 53, would swap St Mary’s for Goodison Park and all we’re waiting for now is official confirmation that he is the new Toffees chief which should arrive by tomorrow at the latest.

ProSoccerTalk understands an $8 million compensation package has been agreed between Everton and Saints for Koeman as the Dutchman had one-year left on the three-year deal he signed in the summer of 2014 when he took over at Southampton.

How, though, did everything change so quickly for him at Southampton?

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A source with inside knowledge of the situation has confirmed to ProSoccerTalk that even as recent as last week when Koeman arrived back from a Caribbean vacation, Saints believed he would sign the two-year contract extension they had offered him to become the highest-paid manager in club history. He had held several “positive” meetings with Southampton’s executive director Les Reed and everything pointed towards him remaining in charge for another three years.

Yet, when he arrived back from St. Barts it was clear that was no longer the case.

A pivotal factor in that was Koeman switching his agent in late May, replacing Guido Albers with Rob Jansen. That’s when the first alarm bells started to ring at St Mary’s after months of speculation surrounding Koeman’s future with just 12 months left on his current deal. The Dutchman has stated several times since January that he would see out the final year of his deal at Saints, at least, and officials at the club believed that would be the case until the situation took a dramatic twist over the past 5-7 days.

There had been subtle changes in Koeman’s rhetoric in the past few months during constant questions from the media about his contract situation at Saints. Talk of finding out if his own ambition was going to be matched by Southampton was frequent but it never truly seemed like he wouldn’t be in charge at St Mary’s next season.

A source has confirmed to ProSoccerTalk that Koeman and his old agent, Albers, were happy to sign the lucrative new contract at Southampton but after Jansen arrived and with Everton said to be offering in excessive of $7 million per year for the former Barcelona and Holland defender to replace Roberto Martinez, things changed. Quickly.

Officials at Southampton are said to be frustrated by Koeman’s impending departure but are already working through a shortlist of candidates to replace him and continue their incredible ascent going. Since their rise from the third-tier in 2011, Saints have now recorded higher finishes in terms of their league position in each of the last seven campaigns.

ProSoccerTalk also understands that several members of Southampton’s first-team squad who were said to be unhappy under Koeman are now happy to stay at St Mary’s and see who arrives as the new boss.

Surrounding all of that, the debate about whether or not Everton is a step up or a sideways move for Koeman is an endless one.

Southampton have finished above Everton in each of the past two seasons but Koeman perhaps felt he delivered all he could at Saints given the mass player sales he had to endure in his first summer in charge, then both Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne leaving last summer. With new Everton owner Farhad Moshiri reportedly handing Koeman $150 million to spend on new players, plus their larger global fanbase and history of greater success compared to Saints, perhaps Koeman fancied the challenge of awakening a sleeping giant of English soccer.

We will find out the answers to those questions in the coming days but one thing we do know is things changed for Koeman at Saints very quickly as he decided his future was elsewhere.

3 things from the USMNT’s 1-1 draw with Peru

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The USMNT led Peru 1-0 late before a back post marking error allowed the World Cup participants to level the score line in Connecticut.

[ MORE: Recap | Player ratings ]

But that’s not what resounds from Tuesday’s match, as we once against confirmed that the U.S. is producing some fine young attackers.

Teenage trio grows into game, puts U.S. ahead

These friendlies provide good chances for players to express themselves individually, and there’s reason to be excited by three young Americans attackers.

Yes, there were plenty of sloppy moments for Josh Sargent (18) and Jonathan Amon (19), but those came early and both European-based players seemed to relax as the match wore into the second half.

Sargent in particular showed flair with one-touch flicks and dynamite touch passes even before he scored his opener. Amon misplaced a looping outside of the foot pass in the first half, but swept a ball over the top of the defense to cue up Sargent in the second half.

And while Tim Weah misfired on that chance, the Paris Saint-Germain man is as exciting as any American teenager on the scene.

Moving forward, it’s all about the attack (and that is exciting)

This isn’t to say that Weston McKennie, Matt Miazga, Tyler Adams, and a few other intriguing young players can’t buoy the hopes of the U.S. heading into the Gold Cup and then World Cup qualifying, but what’s so exciting about this team is a new wealth of attacking options (most of it now growing overseas).

Sargent, Weah, and Amon are 19 or younger. Christian Pulisic is the most important national team talent in a generation, and just turned 20. That’s the same age as Weston McKennie, whose played everywhere from CDM to CB to CAM at his club.

All are playing for clubs whose senior teams are competing for places in Europe. Sargent has yet to play for Werder Bremen’s senior team and Weah sparingly for PSG, but the other three are key pieces for Borussia Dortmund, Schalke, and Nordsjælland.

That’s why it’s key the new U.S. coach knows how to push down on the gas pedal.

Let’s hear it from the long-term caretaker

Sarachan (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Dave Sarachan may’ve just coached the final match of his long-term interim run as USMNT boss, and the Rochester-born 64-year-old deserves a lot of credit for Tuesday’s performance.

While his late substitution of DeAndre Yedlin for a thriving Reggie Cannon led to Peru’s equalizer, no one should blame him for thinking an every week Premier League starter would be able to mark a back post.

Sarachan drew up a short free kick from Kellyn Acosta that led to a Josh Sargent goal, and coaxed a strong performance from first time center back mates Cameron Carter-Vickers and Aaron Long.

The longtime assistant’s record as USMNT boss sits at 3-3-3 despite a very tricky schedule. He’s earned draws against three World Cup nations: Portugal, France, and Peru. He also has the distinction of being 1-0 against Mexico, never a bad thing.

In another climate, Sarachan would have earned something close to a full-time gig. And Bruce Arena’s assistant will surely be involved with the USMNT program in some capacity. But coming off a World Cup qualifying failure, it was always going to be time for fresh blood.

Player ratings from USMNT 1-1 Peru

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The United States came within a handful of minutes of giving their fans a win over a World Cup participant, but instead had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Peru in the final home match of 2018.

[ MORE: Match recap | 3 things ]

Here’s how the individuals fared:

Starting XI

Brad Guzan — 6 — You’d like him to do better on the goal, but he made a big stop on a crazy free kick in stoppage time to save the draw.

Ben Sweat — 5 — Struggled in the first half but put in a solid second 45.

Aaron Long — 7 — A decent performance from an unfamiliar center back pairing, and Long was the better of the two.

Cameron Carter-Vickers — 6.5 — Needs to get more playing time at club level to work out his propensity for making spectacular plays… but also occasionally looking like he’s unsure of his responsibilities. Both happened Tuesday.

Reggie Cannon  (Off 83′) — 6 — Not a bad debut at all, as the FC Dallas man was involved from minute No. 1. He almost drew a penalty in the first 10 minutes, and had a few gutsy tackles.

Wil Trapp — 6 — Some good interventions, but not a major factor moving forward. Is the 25-year-old capable of raising his game to the international level.

Jonathan Amon  (Off 55′) — 6 — The 19-year-old Nordsjælland winger fought his touch early but showed good vision and an ability to try the daring pass.

Kellyn Acosta (Off 78′) — 7 — Dangerous for sure, but his touch betrayed him on a number of solid moves. Executed the short free kick to Sargent to perfection.

Marky Delgado — 6 — Composed and technical, if unspectacular on the night.

Timothy Weah (Off 90+2′) — 8 — Just looks to have that extra special something, to go with a competitor’s mentality. The future is very bright when the USMNT can put him on one wing and Christian Pulisic on the other.

Josh Sargent — 8 — Like Amon, he looked a little rattled early but also showed a number of clever flicks and tricks in his arsenal. A goal is a goal, but his lay off for Weah moments earlier was the stuff of promise (even if you maybe like him to tear into a shot there).

Subs

Julian Green (On 55′) — 5 — For all of his offensive gifts, he does not in the slightest get stuck in as a midfielder. Timid.

Bobby Wood (On 69′) — 6 — Followed up his goal against Colombia with an industrious 20 or so minutes.

Michael Bradley (On 78′) — 6 — Moves into third all-time in USMNT caps.

DeAndre Yedlin (On 84′) — 4 — Maybe he wasn’t prepared to come off the bench, but quite simply the reason Flores was able to equalize. He won’t want Rafa Benitez to see the tape.

Antonee Robinson (On 90+2′) — N/A

Late concession denies USMNT win vs. Peru

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The United States men’s national team lost focus late in a 1-1 draw with Peru in Connecticut on Tuesday.

Josh Sargent scored his second USMNT goal, but Edison Flores took advantage of sleepy defending at the back post to snare an equalizer.

The U.S. finishes its 2018 with matches against England and Italy in November.

[ MORE: Player ratings |  3 things ]

Timothy Weah continued to produce in the national team’s shirt, playing Kellyn Acosta into the box. The Colorado Rapids man was quickly challenged and pushed his shot wide of the near post.

Picking up a flick from Josh Sargent, Jonathan Amon had a chance to cue up a streaking Weah in the Peruvian box. His outside of the boot pass was too ambitious and the PSG man could not reach it.

Peru, though, enjoyed the first half more than their hosts, though very chances ended up meeting Brad Guzan.

There weren’t any changes at the break, and Amon swept a pass over the top of the Peru defense to allow Sargent a path into the box. Sargent squared for Weah, whose shot missed wide of the near post.

Sargent made good on his promise in the 49th minute, a short free kick from Kellyn Acosta that took a deflection off Renato Tapia.

Amon came off in the 55th minute for Julian Green.

Peru brought the match to life with an Andy Polo bullet off the cross bar.

The Yanks then broke back the other way, with Reggie Cannon starting a rush that Julian Green marshaled into a chance. The end product was a blocked Ben Sweat shot.

Dave Sarachan put in a number of veterans late, and one of them was at fault for Peru’s equalizer.

DeAndre Yedlin failed to react to a cross that bounced twice on its way through the six, and Flores was at the back post to punch it into the goal.

And Brad Guzan might’ve not liked his decisions on the goal, but the Atlanta United backstop saved the Yanks’ bacon with a punch save on a late free kick.

Atlanta’s Bocanegra responds to Martino to Mexico reports

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Another report claims that Tata Martino will take the Mexican national team job, and puts a date on the start of employment.

David Medrano of Azteca Deportes has the report, saying that Martino will be announced as Mexico boss on Dec. 8 (the date of the MLS Cup Final).

[ MORE: USMNT-Italy to be hosted in Belgium ]

Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra did his best not to comment on the report in a Tuesday radio appearances, saying the Five Stripes have been having “ongoing discussions” with Martino.

From 929thegame.radio.com:

“It’s all good. There’s all kind of rumors, for our coach, for our players, for everything. I guess that means we’re relevant in the soccer world at the moment, which is a good thing. We’ve been having ongoing discussions. We can’t control what goes on in the rumor mill but we’re doing our job. Tata’s our manager, and going forward we’re looking to get into the playoffs with the Supporters’ Shield under our belt and that’s about as much as it is right now.”

As recently as Sept. 28, Martino had said he hadn’t had discussions with anyone outside Atlanta.

He has also been linked with the Colombia job, while several have connected the dots between the USMNT job and Martino‘s expiring contract in ATL.

As for how hard it would be to replace Martino? Bocanegra seems to think it won’t be as difficult as some fear.

“Each coach has a unique style. We have a philosophy and a way of playing as a club. Within that, you try to put people in place that fit that style, fit that philosophy. That’s where Tata fit nicely. Each coach out there will put his own spin on things but it’s the club that has the long-term vision, playing the younger players.”