Jerry Seinfeld once famously observed that guys generally aren’t interested in what is on TV; rather, armed with the remote and an itchy finger, guys are infinitely more interested in what else is on TV.
Sports fans have a lot of the same in them. When it comes to your favorite team, you certainly like some of your players. But what really makes your little soccer shorts go crazy is who else might soon be scooped up via trade, transfer or draft.
Whether it’s a coach, a wow-boy transfer target or the “next big thing” in the U.S. national team pool, we always like peeking around the corner to see what’s next.
In that spirit, let’s turn to the topic of the next national team manager. Because, really, it is never too early to talk about the next, latest greatest soccer brain, the diviner who will finally lead us mercifully from beyond global soccer’s middle class.
I started thinking about this while watching Sporting Kansas City over the weekend, hitting the road to take apart Toronto FC, never mind that Sporting KC was missing three top men: Dom Dwyer (suspended), Graham Zusi (injury) and Roger Espinoza (injury).
Sure enough, Peter Vermes looks more and more like next leading candidate for the country’s top soccer coaching gig.
None of this is to suggest that Jurgen Klinsmann is going anywhere anytime soon. He’s safe and sound with that big, fat U.S. Soccer contract wrapped around him like a baby’s favorite woobie. (I’m on the record on Klinsmann and his job status; I’ve written about it before.)
While there’s no reason for a change now, it seems highly unlikely that Klinsmann will still be managing three years from now. Most national team managers don’t get a second World Cup cycle; a third is practically unheard of in the modern game.
And right now, Vermes is emerging as a big player in the talk about who will inherit the big chair.
A couple of things: First, it’s easy to see U.S. Soccer moving back to an American for the position. That’s how it was with the previous three managers before Klinsmann (Steve Sampson, Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley). It’s just how these things go, here and often abroad.
It makes sense to select a countryman who shares and understands your own players’ particular sensibilities. But then the wanderlust sets in and something a little more exotic starts sounding pretty good. In the U.S. Soccer case, that was clearly Klinsmann, who wasn’t just foreign and different, but progressive in pretty much every way.