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USMNT coaching candidates after Gregg Berhalter’s firing

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The United States men’s national team’s early exit from the 2024 Copa América was the final straw for head coach Gregg Berhalter’s (second) stint as the team’s manager. The 50-year-old has stepped down as head coach, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Wednesday.

As first reported by Doug McIntyre of FOX Sports, Berhalter’s departure comes after the USMNT’s disappointing showing at this year’s tournament, where they earned just three points in the group stage and failed to advance to the quarterfinals. The search for a new head coach will begin immediately ahead of the 2026 World Cup, which the U.S. will co-host with Canada and Mexico.

The New Jersey native took over as head coach of the national team in 2018 after Bruce Arena resigned from the position after a brief second stint. Berhalter led the team to a CONCACAF Nations League win in 2019–20, a CONCACAF Gold Cup win in 2021 and a berth in the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup. US Soccer initially chose not to renew his contract beyond 2022, but rehired Berhalter the following June.

After giving Berhalter a total of five years at the helm, US Soccer has finally decided to move in a different direction. All we can do for now is speculate, but there are three candidates we think the federation could consider for the newly opened USMNT head coach position.

Berhalter out: Gregg Berhalter fired as US men’s national soccer team coach, report says

USMNT coaching candidates

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1. Steve Cherundolo

Note: A previous version of this story featured BJ Callaghan as a promising potential signing instead of Cherundolo. This story has been updated to reflect Callaghan’s departure from the USMNT roster to become head coach of MLS’ Nashville SC.

Cherundolo is one of the top candidates for the U.S. Soccer Federation, which wants to continue with a head coach under the umbrella of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

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

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

Los Angeles won the MLS Cup in Cherundolo’s first year and is set to finish second in 2023. The team currently sits tied for first in the league’s Western Conference with 43 points and has a game (or two) less than the other top teams.

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

2. Jim Curtin

If US Soccer wants an “in-house” option that isn’t Cherundolo, Curtin is another top choice. He’s been the head coach of the Philadelphia Union (the USSF-sanctioned MLS) since 2014 and has established himself as one of the league’s top coaches.

Curtin led the Union to three U.S. Open Cup finals (2014, 2015, 2018) and the MLS Cup final in 2022. He won the MLS Coach of the Year award in 2020 and 2022 and has a 164–106–126 record and a +114 goal differential during his ten-year tenure as the Union’s head coach.

US Soccer has a history of hiring successful MLS coaches as national team head coaches. The federation did so in 2018 with Berhalter, who played for the Columbus Crew, and in 1998 with Arena, who was head coach of D.C. United. Curtin currently has one of the best records among MLS head coaches and would fit the mold set by previous hiring practices.

3. Hervé Renard

Renard, a 55-year-old French national football player who is the head coach of the French women’s national team, is known for taking national teams to higher levels.

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

Two years ago, he coached Saudi Arabia, leading them to the World Cup, beating Argentina 2-1.

Attempts to lure Renard to the United States will be more difficult than with other candidates. In January of this year, Ivory Coast tried to bring her back from the French women’s national team on a “loan” basis for this year’s AFCON tournament, but the French Football Federation rejected the request.

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Honorable mention: Jürgen Klopp

Jürgen Klopp won’t be the head coach of the United States men’s national team, but that’s a fun fantasy. The greatest manager of all time who will be coaching the American team after leaving his decade-long tenure at Liverpool? Of course, that’s an exciting concept.

Klopp once likened his teams’ style of play to heavy metal, as they were very aggressive and tended to put pressure on opposing teams immediately after losing possession. Using Klopp’s tactics, Liverpool’s teams have been among the most successful in the Premier League for the past 10 years, winning the league in 2019-20, the FA Cup in 2021-22 and the EFL (formerly the Carabao Cup) in 2021-22 and this year.

The German coaching genius is one of the best coaches in the world, and considering his price range and his desire to take a break from managing football teams anytime soon, he is just a dream for USMNT fans.