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Who Should USMNT Replace Berhalter? Analysing Klopp, Pochettino, Vieira and More

The United States Soccer Federation has decided to part ways with Gregg Berhalter following the U.S. Men’s National Team’s disappointing performance at the Copa America on home soil.

The team finished third in their group, with Uruguay and Panama advancing to the knockout stages. With just two years until the United States hosts the World Cup, they decided to make a change.

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There were questions before the USMNT’s exit from the Copa America. Now they’re getting louder

As the USSF tries to find a successor to Berhalter, there are a number of top foreign managers on the market, most notably Jurgen Klopp, who left Liverpool this summer.

“I think we’re in a better place now where we can do a more targeted search,” U.S. Soccer Sports Director Matt Crocker said. “That way, I’ll be more inclined to put in more effort and reach out early to specific candidates that I think fit the criteria that we’re looking for.”

When asked if speaking English was still a criterion for the position, Crocker said: “I think effective communication is critical when you have to get a message across to the players. That hasn’t changed. And we’re going to be considering a very broad pool of candidates. I’m working on it right away. Our intention is to continue that process.”

Here are some of the possible candidates to replace Berhalter and the style of football they could bring to the USMNT setup: Who would you like to see take over?

Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp favours a high defensive line and a high press designed to win the ball back at the first opportunity when it is lost — here’s how he demonstrates it: AthleticThe following game style wheel, Outlining how a team will play compared to Europe’s top seven domestic leagues.

High risk, high reward — always playing up front, always trying to seize the initiative. Caution is not a word in the 57-year-old’s vocabulary. Looking at the ‘Patient attack’ metric below (23 out of 99), it’s clear Klopp wants his team to grab his opponent by the throat and punish them as quickly as possible.

Klopp will be a breath of fresh air in terms of tactics and man-management. He has proven that he can get the best out of talent in all areas and promote a sense of unity and togetherness.

The USMNT’s roster could also appeal to him. Take the fiery attacking side that has garnered much praise at Anfield, for example. Klopp’s Liverpool were at their best with a high-energy, hard-running front three, and attacking players like Christian Pulisic, Folarin Balogun and Ricardo Pepi could, at least in theory, appeal to the German.

Considering that all of these players, and even most of the key players on Team USA, play in Europe, Klopp will be familiar with their leagues and the tactical systems used in their clubs.

Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate has overseen a transformation in England’s reputation since he became national team manager in 2016.

While fans have been frustrated by Southgate’s lack of tactical creativity despite his talented squad, the 53-year-old has shown a ruthless attitude towards his character in recent months, most notably omitting the experienced Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford from his 33-man longlist for the European Championship.

(Carl Recine/Getty Images)

Southgate has favoured a four-man defensive system in recent years, but has shown flexibility in adapting to a three-man defence, often used as a countermeasure against opposition defences, as seen in England’s games against Switzerland and the Netherlands as they reached the Euro 2024 final.

International football is tactically and qualitatively different to club football, meaning the role is more about the long-term vision of the national team rather than day-to-day coaching. Southgate may have been criticised at times for his tactical acumen, but his almost ambassadorial presence is a valuable asset at international level that should not be underestimated.

There should be no willingness to take qualified risks with talented but inexperienced players. Kobbie Mainoo, 19, and Adam Wharton, 20, have been included in the current squad because they are good enough and old enough, and Americans like Chelsea goalkeeper Gaga Slonina, 20, may feel their chances of a World Cup place have increased. So could Manchester City wonderkid Cavan Sullivan, who will be the same age as Spain’s Lamine Yamal when the 2026 tournament begins.

Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino’s preferred style of play is based on high intensity and pressing, and Chelsea’s statistics from last season suggest a team that never gives up when out of possession (intensity: 89 out of 99).

Problems in both penalty areas have been the central narrative of Chelsea’s season under Pochettino. Their underlying chance creation (83 out of 99) has been strong, but this has seemed to come at the expense of a dreadfully poor defensive record (chance prevention: 32 out of 99). Chelsea’s 1.4 expected non-penalty goals conceded per 90 minutes has been a mountain to climb in every match, and Pochettino has struggled to find that balance for much of the season.

As unpretentious as it may sound, the foundation of international football is primarily based on strong defensive foundations, and Pochettino has failed to show that during his recent spell on the bench.

Such deficiencies naturally call for a greater focus on the individual quality of the backline and the goalkeeper; areas where the current US squad struggles. Goalkeeper Matt Turner barely played for Nottingham Forest last season and his shooting and distribution were questionable at times in the Copa America. Behind him, Ethan Horvath is again a step down in quality and conceded a poor goal when he was forced into the game after Turner was injured against Panama.

Then there is the lack of obvious replacements for ageing centre-back Tim Ream, and the doubts about the strength in depth behind him and Chris Richards. Pochettino had arguably the better defenders at Chelsea, and they still struggled.

Thomas Tuchel

Despite a disappointing season by Bayern Munich’s standards, Tuchel’s team’s underlying figures show how dominant they are in both areas. Competing with the history-making, unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen side was not part of the plan, but Bayern’s 1.6 xG difference per 90 minutes – which takes into account the quality of chances created and conceded – was the best of any team in Europe’s top five leagues.

Tuchel’s tactical nous is undeniable, but questions about his temperament could be a factor working against him. He’s averaged a year, nine months and 15 days in his last three roles at Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Bayern Munich. International football is different, of course, but if the U.S. national team is looking for a long-term vision, Tuchel may not be the man for it. However, he is available after leaving Bayern and meeting with Manchester United earlier this summer.

Tuchel celebrates winning the Champions League with Chelsea in May 2021 (Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

There could also be a thorny issue over what Pulisic will think of Tuchel’s appointment. The pair worked together at Stamford Bridge and have at times had a tense relationship, with the USA captain admitting he was “stunned” to be left out of the squad for the Champions League semi-finals in 2021.

Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank, 50, will bring a clear tactical philosophy. His 5-3-2 formation is combative, disciplined and a nightmare to play against. In the last three seasons, only Brighton have taken more points than Brentford’s 35 against the ‘Big Six’ in the Premier League, with the west London side having won twice against Manchester City, won three times against Chelsea and thrashed Manchester United 4-0.

Likewise, his ability to rotate his team into a 4-3-3 formation throughout the season shows a tactical versatility that will come in handy in an environment where maximising players’ strengths is crucial in international football.

That Frank has overseen Brentford’s first promotion to the Premier League and has now kept them there for three consecutive seasons speaks volumes about the transformative work he has done. He is an experienced coach and a keen motivator who can boast long-term success.

He also spoke of being open to possibilities, and this would represent an exciting new twist for the likeable Dane. His likeability and ability to build morale could be welcomed, especially by US players like Gio Reyna, who has clashed with Berhalter at times.

(Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)

Ralph Rangnick

As the godfather of Gegenpressing, you know what you’re getting with a Ralf Rangnick team. His high-energy, relentless approach has inspired many of the coaches who have worked with him, and when asked to describe his playing philosophy in a recent interview for The Coaches’ Voice, the German said, “It’s high-pressing, counter-pressing football. I would say it’s fast, proactive, attacking, counter-attacking, counter-pressing and exciting.”

Anyone doubting Rangnick’s ability to instill such methods at international level should look at Austria’s approach to possession out of possession at Euro 2024 this summer. Their 10.1 passes per defensive action (PPDA) – a metric where a lower number indicates a more active pressing approach – suggests they are pressing harder than any team in the tournament.

With the ball, Rangnick believes in playing the ball with a purpose. Whenever possible, try to pass the ball forward and limit square or back passes that slow down the game. Fans of the New York Red Bulls under Jesse Marsch are quite familiar with this style, as Marsch is a staunch advocate of Rangnick’s gung-ho attacking method.

The U.S. has players like Pulisic and, at best, Reyna, who are athletic enough to both get things done and press hard in a Rangnick-style manner.

The 66-year-old coach has international management experience and has been in charge of the Austrian national team for two years.

Patrick Vieira

RC Strasbourg, coached by Patrick Vieira, finished 13th in Ligue 1 last season, and the 48-year-old player recently shared his goals for the future.

Vieira was unveiled in Strasbourg in July 2023 (Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images)

“Our goal is to play European football in the next three years,” Vieira told the Stick to Football podcast. “Of course, there is a big return of young players from this year and this year was tough and difficult – we struggled and went through some difficult periods.”

Vieira favours a considered, possession-based style of football but has rarely had the players to execute it. At Crystal Palace, he was forced to compromise on those plans for a back-breaking, counter-attacking approach that saw Vieira sacked after a 12-game winless run.

Strasbourg’s playing style appears similarly complex, with Vieira encouraging his team to move the ball around when they have possession (82 in 99) – even if those opportunities are rare (Possession, 17 in 99) – but his team often lacked the striking power at the top end of the pitch (Chance creation, 41 in 99).

Vieira’s experience coaching NYCFC in the MLS could be a useful start for him to adapt to U.S. soccer, but his recent stints suggest he’s still a developing manager compared to other candidates on the list.

Where the current squad is loaded with talent is at his old position, midfield. Young talents like Johnny Cardoso and Malik Tillman from Real Betis could learn from one of the best ever in that role. At the same time, the more experienced trio of Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tim Weah would have a manager who knows exactly what it’s like to play for two of Italy’s biggest clubs, AC Milan and Juventus. The USMNT have had some great players as managers before (see Jurgen Klinsmann), but Vieira’s resume is one of the best.

Having a World Cup-winning team fielded in the next World Cup would be a potential plus.

(Above photos: Getty Images)