Who Should Be The Next Manager of the USMNT?
Written by: Mark Aguilar 🇸🇻
Despite leading the United States Men’s National Team to a round-of-16 finish at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, manager Gregg Berhalter’s contract hasn’t been renewed and the national team remains without a manager. With there being a hesitance of renewing, could a change be coming to the USMNT?
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After the United States' exit from the World Cup against the Netherlands, Berhalter’s position as manager came under question. Sure, the Netherlands has always been a country that does well during the latter stages of a World Cup, but many felt that the U.S. lost that game because of Berhalter’s in-game management. It’s arguable that the talent on the field between the Dutch and the U.S. were comparable, but Berhalter’s inability to adapt his tactics against tougher sides showed in their 3-1 defeat.
Another massive controversy that could have affected Berhalter’s renewal as manager was a story that came out about his past. American soccer legend and close friend of Berhalter, Claudio Reyna, and his wife came out with allegations that Berhalter struck his current wife while they were in college in the early 90s. The United States Soccer Federation had an internal investigation on the matter and concluded that while the allegations were true, Berhalter and his wife worked it out and he’s never shown the same behaviors since.
However, these allegations by Reyna came out because he was attempting to blackmail the manager to try and get his son, Giovanni Reyna, more playing time during the World Cup. Berhalter had told the 20-year-old before the start of the tournament that he’d have a sporadic role, which angered his father and other fans of the national team. Many felt that his treatment of one of the best young talents in Europe was unjustified and that he could have made more of a difference during the tournament.
Along with these issues, U.S. soccer currently doesn’t have a sporting director or general manager after the resignation of Earnie Stewart and Brian McBride. Because of this, the federation needs to fill these positions before finding a manager for the USMNT.
So with the possibility of Gregg Berhalter not being renewed as manager under new management, who could fill this role and take the United States to the 2024 Copa América and 2026 World Cup? With both of those tournaments being hosted in the United States, there will be pressure on the national team to do well.
The first option U.S. soccer can do is keep Greg Berhalter. It might be the obvious choice for the federation because he’s been with the team since 2018. Although his style of play might be frustrating for fans at home, he could be seen as a “safe” pair of hands for the national team moving forward. Berhalter’s reappointment would be the least ambitious route the federation could take that could potentially stagnate how far the national team could go in major tournaments.
When it comes to other potential managers to take charge of the national team, a few come up as candidates. One name thrown around was Jesse Marsch, who was recently fired by Leeds United in the Premier League. Marsch has emerged as possibly the current best American coach right now because of his experience managing in Europe. He was successful in Austria managing RB Salzburg, regularly competing in the UEFA Champions League. Moreover, Marsch has also had a spell at RB Leipzig in Germany where he didn’t last long. Although he’s been fired at his last two clubs, his attacking style of soccer is exciting to watch. Even though his managerial style is beloved, he might be too ambitious of a choice as he might want to continue developing as a manager in Europe.
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Another potential coach could be the French legend Thierry Henry, who’s publicly expressed interest in the position. Despite being one of the best to ever play the sport, his managerial CV isn’t the strongest since most of his experience comes from being the assistant coach of Belgium. His only experience managing as a senior coach comes with CF Montréal in Major League Soccer, and AS Monaco in France, the latter of which he was fired from after a few months.
José Mourinho has also been listed as a potential candidate, and weirdly enough, he might be the best-suited manager to enter international management. Mourinho is one of the most successful managers of all time and is currently managing Roma in Italy. Although some argue the game has moved past José’s defensive style of play, he’s been quietly having a successful stint in Serie A and could potentially qualify Roma for the Champions League next season. International soccer is all about winning games at tournaments and not necessarily looking good while doing it. If U.S. soccer wants to sacrifice playing well in favor of a solid defense, there’s no other manager that could do it as well as Mourinho. The only problem with this could be that Mourinho might not want to be finished with club management just yet.
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Other potential names include former Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, former Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira, current Portland Timbers manager Giovanni Savarese, and current Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin.
While there is a lot of uncertainty right now with the managerial position for the USMNT, there needs to be a decision made soon to prepare for their upcoming major tournaments. The Gold Cup is also this summer and time will tell if there’ll be a permanent manager taking charge during the CONCACAF tournament.