Candidates to become the USMNT’s GM

AP
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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.