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U.S. Soccer announces Gregg Berhalter as USMNT boss

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It’s official: The United States men’s national team’s first new full-time manager since 2011 is Gregg Berhalter, the 44-times capped defender who’s coached Hammarby and the Columbus Crew.

U.S. Soccer general manager Earnie Stewart announced his choice on Sunday, months after Berhalter became the clear front-runner and 13-plus months since Bruce Arena stepped down from the post following the embarrassing World Cup qualifying failure in Couva.

Now, we can well and truly begin to move past that era. Berhalter will be introduced at a press conference in New York City on Tuesday at Noon ET.

[ MORE: Who is Gregg Berhalter? ]

General manager Earnie Stewart, the third man quoted in a press release from U.S. Soccer, says the controversial hiring process doesn’t leave any doubts in his mind. The USSF was said to have refused an interview with former Spanish boss Julen Lopetegui and formerly discussed the job with only four candidates including Berhalter.

“After a very thorough process, I am absolutely convinced Gregg is the right man to lead the National Team program moving forward,” Stewart said. “He ticks all the boxes with his background as a person, a successful coach and an accomplished former international player.”

Berhalter was chosen as MNT head coach after an extensive selection process led by Stewart, who worked alongside U.S. Soccer’s Chief Sport Development Officer Nico Romeijn and Chief Soccer Officer Ryan Mooney in developing the profile for the head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Interim manager Dave Sarachan did an admirable job while the USMNT navigated managerial purgatory, introducing all sorts of new blood, but Berhalter is tasked with inviting the right mix of veterans and new blood into the fold.

Will there be places for Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore? Will Berhalter want to see Geoff Cameron and Danny Williams? Or is the longtime MLS man going to begin with youth?

Loving the idea of Berhalter for USMNT, but hating the process

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Let’s get the ugly out of the way early: The appearance of nepotism is garbage, and U.S. Soccer will have made the latest of several ego-driven, tone deaf, unforced errors if and when it announces the hiring of Gregg Berhalter without having spoken with a number of top candidates.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day ]

It’s only going to look like they had their guy all along, the brother of the federation’s chief commercial officer Jay Berhalter, and that their new general manager either wasn’t allowed to conduct a full interview process or hire a new USMNT manager without his hand being held.

Again, that’s probably not what happened, but U.S. Soccer not caring how it looks shows that very little’s changed since Sunil Gulati left office channeling Gordon Bombay’s “quarter of an inch” logic.

So, again, U.S. Soccer didn’t interview Tata Martino, who may be off for the Mexican gig, and that knowledge triggered a pretty healthy discussion on Twitter with the knowledge that Sporting KC mastermind Peter Vermes, 2016 MLS Coach of the Year Oscar Pareja, RB Leipzig assistant Jesse Marsch, and former El Tri boss Juan Carlos Osorio also were not interviewed. Doug McIntyre adds ex-USMNT coach Bob Bradley and longtime U-20 boss Tab Ramos to the list.

Assuming the reports are all true, that’s a problem. It also doesn’t mean that Berhalter isn’t a good, if not great, candidate for the job (and maybe Stewart was hired after saying, “I’d take Gregg as my No. 1 guy.”)

The 45-year-old knows the importance of both testing himself overseas and keeping himself sharp in MLS, having player in the Netherlands, England, and Germany before finishing his career with the Galaxy.

In management, he got his start assisting Bruce Arena before taking a head job in Sweden and losing just 11 of 46 matches for Hammarby.

Moving to Columbus in 2013, he’s led the a team which has never spent much to supply a team under his eye. According to Spotrac, the Crew have spent the 22nd (2018), 17th, 17th, 13th, and 17th most dollars on player salaries in the league. Here’s how those teams performed in the league:

That’s outstanding, and when you throw in the fact that he’s done that with the distraction of owner Anthony Precourt at times literally trying to keep fans from making the stands look full for a playoff game so he could engineer a move to Austin? Insane!

Even if Columbus loses on Sunday and is passed by Montreal for a playoff spot, that’s still impressive.

You could reasonably argue that fans should want his hire as much as any other American candidate and many from outside the continent, too. Shoot, as long as an interview doesn’t drop where Berhalter claims an MLS All Star Team would dominate the top tiers of England, Germany, Spain, and Italy, and that Gyasi Zardes is like-for-like with Roberto Firmino

Anyway… what I’m saying is there would be plenty of reasons to be excited with the Berhalter hire, who has show he knows when to drop off and defend and when to lay his foot on the pedal. There are only two things to really dislike about him, and one assumes Martino is off to Mexico.

  1. Berhalter is 0-4 against Martino in MLS play
  2. Unfortunately we hearken back to the top of the post, and the knowledge that the USSF will have put its new boss in a precarious position amongst its supporters and “shareholders.”

It won’t change how Berhalter does his job — the guy looks like he’d rather chew through a 2×4 than deal with speculation — but it doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the other aspects of how the federation has dealt with an improbable World Cup qualifying failure in one of the most forgiving confederations on Earth.

Then again, maybe they’ll announce Zinedine Zidane on Nov. 1. What do we know?

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.