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US Soccer begins interviewing candidates for head coach

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Earnie Stewart was hired as U.S. Soccer general manager on June 6. It’s about time.

Exactly five days before the one-year anniversary of the loss to Trinidad & Tobago, U.S. Soccer has announced Stewart has begun to interview candidates for the vacant United States head coaching position.

The USMNT has been without a permanent head coach since October 13 when Bruce Arena resigned three days after the fateful loss in Couva. Dave Sarachan has been proceeding as interim head coach for much of that vacancy, but he is only considered a fringe candidate for the permanent position. U.S. Soccer has taken a significant amount of criticism for the length of time it has taken to even begin the interview process, with many pleading with the federation to solidify the position and help the federation move on from the disaster a year ago.

ESPN’s Doug McIntyre reports that Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter, whom many believe to be a serious candidate for the position, gave a “no comment” when asked if he has been interviewed. Meanwhile, Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep reported that while Stewart had suggested interviewing just one candidate was a possibility, they have multiple candidates lined up for interviews during this process.

There are no other significant reports of those who may be involved, but others who have received significant mention in the past have included former New York Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch, current Sporting KC boss Peter Vermes, Toronto FC and head coach Greg Vanney. Others who have been brought up include Atlanta United boss and former Argentina head coach Tata Martino, former Portland Timbers manager Caleb Porter, and current U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos.

So who are the 6-7 names on Earnie Stewart’s USMNT list?

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As reported Thursday, United States men’s national team general manager Earnie Stewart plans to speak with at least 6-7 candidates before hiring a manager some time before the end of the year.

Plenty has changed since Bruce Arena left the USMNT following a deplorable loss to Trinidad and Tobago and the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, so the bookmakers’ favorites of a year ago are not quite the same.

[ MORE: Liverpool deny Rabiot contact ]

Peter Vermes, David Wagner, and Patrick Vieira have all either committed to their former club or taken on a new and significant adventure. That’s also pretty much true for Jesse Marsch, who is assisting at RB Leipzig and likely wouldn’t have left New York Red Bulls midseason if he truly wanted or felt he was in the running for the gig.

Juan Carlos Osorio’s time has come and gone as a favorite with his new employment at Paraguay.

So who would you guess is on the 6-7 presumably male list now? Let’s give it a go, assuming that Arsene Wenger, Antonio Conte, and Zinedine Zidane await bigger club challenges.

  1. Tata Martino — The Argentine has yet to commit his future to Atlanta United, and the Five Stripes have been linked with David Moyes should Martino go. It’s easy to connect the dots and make him the favorite.
  2. Gregg Berhalter — Stewart’s former USMNT teammate has won at Columbus with several different styles of play (and degrees of talent).
  3. Caleb Porter — On the original list, Porter has had success at MLS and in the NCAA, the lone blemish his failure to qualify the U.S. U-23 men for the Olympics.
  4. Tab Ramos — The longtime U.S. U-20 coach has the faith of the federation, and it would follow the Gareth Southgate model.
  5. Dave Sarachan — Makes sense to include the interim boss, whether serious about hiring him or not.
  6. Laurent Blanc — The outsider’s name won’t go away, and the former Bordeaux, France, and Paris Saint-Germain boss could be in the running.

The other names that don’t seem fit to join the above list but could be in the discussion: Jason Kries could be a wild card after leaving Orlando City; David Moyes, who’s reportedly put his name in the ring; Dick Advocaat, who is 70 but has worked with Stewart and has loads of club and country experience.

New USMNT head coach to be hired by end of 2018

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The next head coach of the U.S. men’s national team will be hired and begin working toward qualifying for the 2022 World Cup before the end of the 2018 calendar year, per new USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart.

[ MORE: What’s at stake for young USMNT in Brazil, Mexico friendlies? ]

Speaking on Thursday, for the first time since he was installed as the new head of the men’s program, Stewart provided the public with the first concrete update regarding U.S. Soccer’s search for a new head coach since Bruce Arena resigned following the Yanks’ failure to qualify for this summer’s World Cup last October. Dave Sarachan has been in charge of the USMNT for every camp in the interim.

Stewart said he has a list of six or seven candidates in mind, and denied speculation that Columbus Crew SC’s Gregg Berhalter is the favorite at this point. No one has interviewed for the job as of yet, but once the process begins, things could move quickly. November friendlies against England and Italy are one reported target date for the new coach to make his debut.

[ MORE: USMNT vs. Brazil preview: Sarachan, meet gauntlet ]

Nico Romeijn, the U.S. Soccer Federation’s chief sport development officer, and Ryan Mooney, USSF’s chief soccer officer, will join Stewart in the interviewing process. Stewart does not have the power to hire (or fire) a coach directly, but his recommendation to U.S. Soccer’s board of directors will (presumably) carry a lot of weight.

Porter: I should be “in the mix” for USMNT job after Vermes

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Caleb Porter is feeling recharged after a season away from soccer, and would be interested in the United States men’s national team job if the federation is interested in hiring him.

The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio spoke with Porter about leaving Portland, his decision to decline the Orlando City job, and the vacant USMNT.

[ MORE: Austin approves MLS stadium ]

As for his level of interest, the canny operator only put the thinnest veneer on it. Look no further than his endorsing Peter Vermes, who has signed a new Sporting KC deal since the American job opened up. From The Athletic:

“If you’re going American, Peter Vermes, for me, he is the guy that deserves the shot,” Porter says. “I believe that. That guy deserves to carry the torch of our national team. Peter Vermes, in my opinion, based on what he’s done in our league, he’s proven it as an American coach. If you don’t go with Peter Vermes, I think, based on what I’ve proven, I’m in the mix with another two or three guys who deserve consideration and I’d be open to talking.”

Porter says he doesn’t know what his next job is, though he’s assumed it will be in club soccer, and used some salty language to say there’s only job he wouldn’t take: Portland’s Cascadian rival, the Seattle Sounders.

The club that lands the MLS Cup and NCAA College Cup winner will have a fantastic and inspired coach, but let’s hope that USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart goes in a different direction. Porter may ultimately succeed in such a role, but already carries USSF baggage after failing to lead the U.S. U-23s into the Olympics before he took the Portland job.

Stewart the right man at the right time for USMNT

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Earnie Stewart is the new United States men’s national team general manager, the man charged with hiring, er, recommending the hiring of the manager tasked with leading the nation back into international prominence following a horrible World Cup qualifying failure.

On the surface, he ticks a lot of boxes. Domestic success and international acclaim, a sense of the past and present. And, perhaps most importantly, the Dutch-born son of an U.S. Air Force airman and his Dutch wife, he knows that USMNT players can come from anywhere.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

And, unlike anyone in recent memory to hold such a coaching or management position with the team, he’s put on the USMNT shirt more than 100 times.

I reached out to a friend who’s worked alongside Stewart to see if I should be excited, nervous, or both about his hiring. Here’s what I was told:

“I’ll tell you this about Earnie. I’m a really big fan in terms of professionalism, order, hierarchy. Consummate pro. There will be more transparency with him as well.”

Andrew Helms’ and Matt Pentz’s story on the USMNT’s 2018 qualifying failure details how the order wasn’t there with Jurgen Klinsmann, and the professionalism at times was clearly as issue under Bruce Arena (see the Trinidad training field saga).

What the USMNT needs now, more than ever, is a man who can bridge the divide between administration and players, between the team and supporters.

There are so many reasons to be concerned about the status of U.S. Soccer. Whether Stewart understands what it means to grow the American game here and abroad is not one of them.

Stewart scored more than 100 goals in the Netherlands before playing a pair of MLS seasons and building the nascent league’s reputation.

He’s played in three World Cups for three different managers, with three very different results. There was the U.S. based tournament that built MLS in 1994, the disastrous run at France 1998, and the glorious if fortunate run to the quarterfinals (which could’ve met the semifinals, TORSTEN FRINGS) in 2002.

Along the way, he’s dealt with the hype of that first tournament, then monumentally awful intra-squad strife in 1998 before that wonderful ’02 run. He has seen it all.

There’s no guarantee he’ll hire the right guy. There’s no guarantee he’ll win over talented dual citizens.

But there’s little doubt he’ll be a proper sounding board for the man he hires, and that he’ll be invigorated to work with a wealth of talent and resources having been hamstrung in Philadelphia.

For everything that needs to be fixed in American soccer, and the uncertainty over whether anything’s really changed with the men and women who are tasked with fixing it, this hire means U.S. Soccer has taken a step forward with a sound decision.