MLS 🔵 Top 3 candidates to replace Gregg Berhalter as US coach after firing – Shango Media
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MLS 🔵 Top 3 candidates to replace Gregg Berhalter as US coach after firing

MLS 🔵 Top 3 candidates to replace Gregg Berhalter as US coach after firing
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The United States men’s national team’s early exit from the 2024 Copa América proved to be the final straw for head coach Gregg Berhalter’s (second) tenure as the team’s manager. The 50-year-old is out as head coach, as announced by the U.S. Soccer Federation on Wednesday.

Berhalter’s exit, as first reported by FOX Sports’ Doug McIntyre, comes after USMNT’s disappointing show at this year’s tournament. They tallied just three points in the group stage and failed to move on to the quarterfinals. The search for a new head coach ahead of the 2026 World Cup – which the U.S. will jointly host with Canada and Mexico – will begin immediately.

The New Jersey native took over as the national team’s head coach in 2018, after Bruce Arena resigned from the position after a brief second stint. Berhalter went on to lead the team to a CONCACAF Nations League win in 2019-20, a CONCACAF Gold Cup win in 2021 and a 2022 World Cup run to the round of 16. U.S. Soccer initially chose not to renew his contract after 2022, though it re-hired Berhalter the following June.

After giving Berhalter five years in total at the helm, U.S. Soccer has ultimately decided to move in a different direction. All we can do for right now is speculate, but here are three candidates we think the federation could consider for the newly open USMNT head coach job.

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USMNT coaching candidates

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1. Steve Cherundolo

Note: A previous version of this story included B.J. Callaghan as a promising potential hire instead of Cherundolo. This story has been updated to reflect Callaghan’s departure from the USMNT staff to take over as the head coach of MLS’s Nashville SC.

Cherundolo is a top candidate U.S. Soccer could look to if they hope to stay with a coach who is already within the U.S. Soccer Federation umbrella.

The California native and former player for the USMNT took over as the Los Angeles FC head coach in 2022 after stops at a German U15 and U17 team, an assistant job at VfB Stuttgart and the USL. He found immediate success with Los Angeles.

In his first season, he broke an MLS record for most wins by a first-year head coach when he led LAFC to its Supporters’ Shield-clinching 21st win. The record was originally set by one-time USMNT head coach (and his LAFC predecessor) Bob Bradley with the 1998 Chicago Fire.

Los Angeles went on to win the MLS Cup in Cherundolo’s first year and finished as runners-up in 2023. The team is currently tied for the lead in the league’s Western Conference with 43 points and has a game (or two) in hand over the other top teams.

Cherundolo is a former member of the United States men’s national team, an inductee to the National Soccer Hall of Fame and a successful MLS coach. He should be among the top candidates that U.S. Soccer considers to replace his former teammate as the USMNT head coach.

2. Jim Curtin

If U.S. Soccer wants an « in-house » option that isn’t Cherundolo, Curtin is one of its other best options. He has been the head coach of the Philadelphia Union (of the USSF-sanctioned MLS) since 2014 and has established himself as one of the league’s best coaches.

Curtin led the Union to three U.S. Open Cup finals (2014, 2015, 2018) and the MLS Cup final in 2022. He earned MLS Coach of the Year honors in 2020 and 2022, and has a 164-106-126 record with a +114 goal differential as the Union’s head coach over his decade-long tenure.

U.S. Soccer has a history of hiring successful MLS coaches as the head coach of the national team. The federation did it with Berhalter – formerly of the Columbus Crew – in 2018 and with Arena – once the head coach of D.C. United – in 1998. Curtin has one of the best track records of MLS head coaches right now and would fit the mold established by previous hiring practices.

3. Hervé Renard

Renard, a 55-year-old Frenchman and the head coach of France’s national women’s team, has something of a reputation for pushing national teams to a higher level.

In 2012, Renard led Zambia to its first victory in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), a full 38 years after the team’s first tournament appearance. Three years later, he led Ivory Coast to its second-ever AFCON win and first since 1992, becoming the first head coach to win an AFCON tournament with two different countries. In 2018, Renard got Morocco into the 2018 World Cup for their first time qualifying since 1998.

Two years ago, it was Renard who coached Saudi Arabia to a 2-1 World Cup-opening win over eventual champions Argentina.

Attempts to draw Renard to the United States will be more difficult than either of the other candidates. In January of this year, Ivory Coast attempted to bring him back « on loan » from the French women’s national team for this year’s AFCON tournament, but the French Football Federation rejected their request.

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Honorable mention: Jürgen Klopp

Jürgen Klopp is never going to be the head coach of the United States men’s national team, but it is a fun dream to have. An all-time great manager coming to coach up the American team after stepping down from his decade-long job at Liverpool? Of course that’s an exciting concept.

Klopp himself once likened his teams’ style of play to heavy metal in that they are highly aggressive, with an inclination to immediately press opposing teams after losing possession. Using his tactics, Klopp’s Liverpool teams over the last 10 years have been among the Premier League’s most successful, winning the league in 2019-20, the FA Cup in 2021-22 and the EFL (formerly Carabao Cup) in 2021-22 and this year.

The German coaching mastermind is one of the best coaches in the world. Given his price point and recently stated desire to take a break from managing soccer teams, he’s nothing but a pipe dream for USMNT fans.

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