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Candidates to become the USMNT’s GM

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On Wednesday our own Nick Mendola shared his thoughts on the state of play and the general feeling around the U.S. Soccer community after Carlos Cordeiro was elected as the new president of the U.S. Soccer Federation last weekend.

[ MORE: JPW talks with Carlos Cordeiro ] 

That got me thinking about one of Cordeiro’s main campaign pledges: to appoint a GM for the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams.

Focusing on the USMNT to start with because, let’s face it, they’re in a bit of a mess and a huge transition period, below is a look at six candidates who Cordeiro could turn to in order to get the USMNT back on track.

A GM will likely be tasked with hiring a new head coach, so we will get a pretty good idea on who the new coach may be depending on who lands this position.


Garth Lagerwey
The current Seattle Sounders GM and President of Soccer and former Real Salt Lake GM has already distanced himself from reports that he could take the same position with the USMNT. That said, he would be a great hire. Lagerwey’s philosophy of developing young talent saw RSL become the poster club in MLS on how to prosper from a youth academy and have a clear playing philosophy throughout the club. He would be a very smart hire, but can U.S. Soccer convince him to leave an MLS powerhouse in Seattle? That will be tough.

Carlos Bocanegra
Now, Carlos has been in his job at Atlanta United for less than a few years but you can’t argue with his results. The former USMNT captain has seamlessly transitioned into life in the front office but it certainly helps to have Arthur Blank’s money backing your decisions to entice young talent from South America and also Gerardo “Tata” Martino to become your coach. Boca appears to have a clear plan and strategy and ATL were the success story of MLS in 2017. If Bocanegra arrives as GM, would Martino follow as the head coach? That could be an intriguing double whammy for the USMNT and stack the chips in Bocanegra’s favor. Still, getting Boca and Martino to leave ATL would be very, very tough.

Nelson Rodriguez
A long-time MLS official who has worked high up in the league office and recently worked wonders to help turn around the ailing Chicago Fire in his role of Club President and GM. Rodriguez previously worked with U.S. Soccer as Managing Director of National Team Advisory Services, but in his roles across MLS he has worked closely with Don Garber and helped to develop main areas of the league. Is he a good fit for this GM role? Probably not. Rodriguez does plenty of work on the business side of things, but there could certainly be a place for him within this new national team structure for U.S. Soccer.

Earnie Stewart
Now, we all know that big things were promised when Earnie Stewart took over the Sporting Director role with the Philadelphia Union in 2016, but he’s only one man. The Union continue to have one of the best academy setups in MLS and Stewart does have one hand tied behind his back when it comes to actually bringing in star players to improve the team in Philly. He doesn’t have financial backing in the way that Bocanegra does at Atlanta United, but he does have plenty of experience in Europe to more than pad his resume. Stewart worked wonders at AZ Alkmaar and the former USMNT star would certainly seem like a good fit for this GM role given his experience domestically and internationally.

Tim Bezbatchenko
This guy has done an amazing job at Toronto FC. There’s no other way to put it. “Bez” is a young, hungry GM who has risen through the soccer ranks quickly and is highly thought of within Major League Soccer’s upper echelons where he served as Senior Director of Player Relations and Competition. Since he moved to Toronto in 2013, it’s been a long road to success for Bez and he was certainly helped out by big bucks being through at Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley. That said, the way he’s built that roster at TFC and brought everyone together at the club must be applauded. Like Lagerwey, he has a very good gig in Toronto and is on the cusp of creating a dynastic team. At the age of 36, is he ready to move on to a huge challenge with the national team?

Claudio Reyna
Been at the helm since Day One at New York City FC as the Director of Football Operations and his playing credentials as captain America speaks for itself. Reyna has been outspoken when it comes to the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and it appears he has a few ideas on how to change things at the very top. Will he be given a chance to do that considering his scathing words against the current regime? After five years with NYCFC, maybe now is a good time to move on to the next project. Reyna’s son Gio is one of the top prospects in the U.S. player pool, which is an intriguing sidenote.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Halted World Cup flip-throw heard around the world

AP Photo/Sergei Grits
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Milad Mohammadi knew the time was right for something special, but special isn’t always good.

And good is a subjective term. Cause to us this is very good, Milad.

The Iranian national team defender failed with a flip-throw bid in the final moments of a 1-0 loss to Spain on Wednesday at the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

And this wasn’t like he illegally flipped or broke some other rule. No, like a kid trying an audacious jump into the deep end, Akhmat Grozny star Mohammadi just bailed and climbed in from the side (so to speak).

The kiss, the look skyward, the headbutt… all integral parts of a wonderful World Cup moment.

Renard, Morocco ‘very proud’ of unlucky national team

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If you would’ve told Morocco fans or their manager, Herve Renard, that they’d outshoot and outpossess both Iran and Portugal at World Cup, their next question would probably be, “So do we need to do against Spain to win Group B?”

Alas, Morocco lost a pair of 1-0 decisions to become the first team knocked out of the 2018 World Cup.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The Lions of Atlas fell to Iran in their opener on a stoppage time own goal after carrying 64 percent possession and a 13-8 advantage in shot attempts, then lost to a Cristiano Ronaldo fourth minute goal on Wednesday despite a 16-10 shot advantage and 53 percent of the ball.

“I’m very proud of the performance and I am very proud of my players, I’m very proud of this country,” Renard said.

With no hope of advancing to the next round, the manager is finding the experience bittersweet. From RTE:

“What I am sure of at this moment is that the entire Moroccan people is proud of this team. Of course it’s easier to play with a player who has one chance and he puts it away. But we are in Morocco.

“We have quality players. Despite the ups and downs of the game, we should have been more effective. Because, like in the first game, we had plenty of chances. I won’t blame anyone. That’s football. It’s always those who know how to be present in the box, the most gifted players, who make the difference. We took a lot of risks and we didn’t get our reward.”

It’s unlikely Morocco will hold either of those statistical advantages against Spain, especially a Spanish side yet to qualify, but there is plenty to like from the tournament aside from poor finishing quality.

But the performances of 19-year-olds Amine Harit (Schalke) and Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid) — not to mention Hakim Ziyech (25, Ajax) — seem to hint at a promise for 2022. And Renard’s men can still play spoiler for Spain, which is no small shockwave.

Queiroz: Iran has one ‘match point’ left in World Cup group stage

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Iran manager Carlos Queiroz isn’t going to let his tournament be defined by one win or one loss, especially with a massive moment on the horizon.

Iran fell 1-0 to Spain on Wednesday, days after defeating Morocco in its World Cup opener. Team Melli was denied its equalizer despite VAR review thanks to an offside, and failed in several other bids to level the score.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Now Queiroz and his men need a win over Portugal to qualify for the first knockout stage in its five World Cup history.

“We showed that we were ready to suffer and ready to compete. I felt we deserved a better result. There’s no doubt Spain play wonderful, stylish football but I thought we deserved more for the way we played.

“But congratulations to Fernando Hierro and Spain. We will learn a lot from this game. If you think of it like tennis, we had one match point today and we will have another against Portugal. Everything is still open. We are still alive and still dreaming.”

What chance do you give Iran of getting over on Portugal, who only topped a dominant Morocco side via a terrific designed play executed to perfection by Cristiano Ronaldo?

The odds are in Portugal’s favor, if only for its experience in tight games on massive stages. Well, perhaps the better “if only” would be to say if only for Ronaldo. Either way…