US Soccer has decided to postpone a future renewal deal for Gregg Berhalter. Instead, the U.S. Soccer Federation should oversee January’s camp.
A final decision on extending Berhalter’s deal by two or four years has not yet been finalized. That decision is pending an investigation into extortion claims by Berhalter. Plus US Soccer Sporting Director Earnie Stewart is conducting an evaluation of Berhalter’s tenure to determine if he is the best fit for the US’s future.
Now that we know that American football has delayed its final decision, it is certainly time to evaluate other candidates for the position. After all, the United States will co-host the 2026 World Cup on home soil. And if this country ever wants a serious shot at making a deep run in a tournament, it’s 2026.
Now more than ever it is important for US to make a bold decision by hiring a coach who can develop the team into the best it can be over the next three years. There is no time to settle down.
Time to look at other coaches after the US Soccer Berhalter deal has been postponed
The following list are suitable candidates who should be on the radar for US Soccer. Essentially, they are world-class, jobless coaches with incredible experience that would serve the US well.
The former manager of Chelsea, PSG, Borussia Dortmund and Mainz recently oversaw Christian Pulisic. On the surface, the two had a rapport. And Pulisic, one of the main players of the side, could easily adapt to a Tuchel system. Of course the two had problems. It may not have been anything personal, even though Pulisic’s father expressed his concerns, but Pulisic had limited playing time under the German.
Still, Tuchel is a gifted coach. In 2020, he led PSG to the final of the Champions League for the first time. A year later, he won the league as manager of Chelsea. His career achievements include a pair of Ligue 1 titles, a DFB-Pokal, the FIFA Club World Cup and a number of 2021 Coach of the Year accolades.
His system showed success in cup competitions. The patented back three that Tuchel uses allows for an easy transition from a strong defense to a fast attack. Reece James blossomed and became a first class fullback. The same goes for Ben Chilwell, who suffered a serious knee injury and also flourished under Tuchel. Sergiño Dest, one of the bright young talents in the USMNT camp, could develop quickly under Tuchel. Plus, Dest already has a knack for offensive ability.
Tuchel has no experience in the international game yet, but he had an interesting possibility in mind.
2. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane may not have coached international football either. However, few managers can rival the success of the legend in his short spells at Real Madrid. Look, that’s the only team he’s coached. He has two spells that brought notable success. Three Champions League titles, a pair of LaLiga titles, two Club World Cups and a UEFA Super Cup, and then two more Supercopa de España victories. Remember, he only had three full seasons at the helm, then two more shortened stints.
His best quality is man management. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and more. It seems like anyone could coach a team with that depth and talent to success. But for whatever reason, Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari just couldn’t do it.
As US Soccer hands Gregg Berhalter a new deal, fans have wanted to see Zidane’s tournament prowess applied to an international squad that, while as talented as Real Madrid, is a young and promising group of players. It would also be a great learning experience to have a World Cup winner on the staff.
3. Roberto Martinez
Martinez has a desire to return to the club game. That’s why he probably never considered the USMNT job. In terms of available names, Martinez is perhaps one of the more practical choices.
The Spaniard coached Belgium for a relatively long time. Martinez took over the Red Devils in 2016 after the team crashed during the European Championship to Wales. With Martinez at the helm, Belgium did not have much success. A third place in the 2018 World Cup was certainly the highlight. However, a quarter-final exit at Euro 2020 preceded a shock group stage exit at the 2022 World Cup. Despite this, Belgium consistently topped the FIFA world rankings. It dominated in friendlies and finished fourth in the 2021 UEFA Nations League Final.
The main problem was the fact that Belgium was among the most talented teams in the world, but did not achieve anything remarkable. Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens were all at their best during Martinez’s time in charge. Yet Belgium did not make too much noise.
If US Soccer had decided not to give Gregg Berhalter a new contract, Martinez could have provided some valuable experience. His time at two World Cups showed what to do right and, just as importantly, what not to do.
4. Luis Enrique
Another manager without a job after the 2022 World Cup, Luis Enrique, was hailed as a top manager. He made Spain hum along and play beautiful football. At least that was after the opening game of the tournament. The next three matches at the World Cup, a draw, loss and elimination on penalties, showed the flaws in Enrique’s system. If a team can gain possession from Enrique’s team, they are vulnerable.
Still, Enrique has the experience and the knowledge to develop a young American team. Berhalter tried to dominate in possession. In fact, the United States had massive possession in three of their four World Cup games. The only one that didn’t was against Iran, a match that saw the team hold on to a 1-0 lead. Even then, the USMNT held 49% ownership.
Therefore, Enrique could easily dig into the asset-based system Berhalter used. However, he would incorporate the fast passing and clinical finishing that the United States sometimes lacked against the Netherlands. Still, like Martinez, Enrique wants to return to the club game. He doesn’t bring the tiki-taka and passing style to Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie.
Not so long ago, Mauricio Pochettino was the most popular product among coaches. He led Tottenham Hotspur to the most successful moments of the past decades. A Premier League battle came up short against Leicester City. A few years later, Tottenham played in its first UEFA Champions League final. Dramatic second legs against Manchester City and Ajax may have propelled the side to more glory than it deserved.
He saw PSG as the logical step, a team ripe for Champions League success. Pochettino arrived in winter 2021 as a replacement for the outgoing Thomas Tuchel. Despite beating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the knockout stages, PSG fell to Manchester City, losing in both legs of that semi-final. The Argentine manager then had all the expectations in the world for his second season, as the club took over Lionel Messi. However, it was a relative disaster for the Parisians. PSG won the league, but that was the only trophy. It was the first time since the 2012/13 campaign that PSG won just one trophy. PSG changed managerswith Christophe Galtier entering.
Pochettino remains unemployed but a well-known name in the potential job market across Europe. The United States was one of those jobs, albeit not the familiarity of club management in Europe. Gregg Berhalter remains the coach on a new US Soccer deal, but Pochettino exudes desire and dedication. He showed tremendous growth at PSG and Southampton and took those clubs to new heights. He could have done the same with the United States.
Berhalter’s time is over
Under Berhalter’s tenure, the United States did more than just make it to the World Cup, something it failed to do under the previous administration. Berhalter’s USA won the 2021 Gold Cup and the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League. In both cases, Berhalter largely used several squads to defeat Mexico in the final game. In the CONCACAF World Cup qualification, the United States finished third. It trailed both Mexico and Canada by three points.
However, not everything during Berhalter’s time in charge of the United States was a success. Controversy over the handling of Giovanni Reyna’s World Cup effort was an embarrassing look for the coach. Berhalter said Reyna was not playing due to an injury. Still, he later revealed on a panel that Reyna was not playing due to off-field issues, including a lack of commitment in training.
Others complained about Berhalter’s team selection. He left Jordan Pefok from the World Cup team and opted for MLS talent like Jordan Morris instead.
At the 2022 World Cup, his team reached the round of 16 at the World Cup. There, the USA lost 3-1 to the Netherlands. He focused on the game itself and was coached off by Louis Van Gaal, who did not see the US as a major threat.
Most recently, Berhalter revealed an incident of domestic violence between him and his girlfriend (now wife). Although it happened more than 30 years ago, it doesn’t look good for an American football coach leading a team to the next World Cup.
It is now time for US Soccer to step into action.
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