Gregg Berhalter and the United States men’s national team (USMNT) crashed out of the 2024 Copa America on Monday. Following the shocking loss against Panama last week, the United States needed a positive result against Uruguay. That did not materialize. Despite the promise of a “golden generation,” the USMNT is out. It is an unmitigated disaster on home soil for the Americans.

The main culprit is Gregg Berhalter, who – in seven years in the job – failed to get a single win over a Top 25 side in FIFA’s rankings outside Concacaf. In all likelihood, Berhalter is on the way out as head coach. That immediately turns the discussion to who could come in and replace him. Officially, Berhalter is under contract through the 2026 World Cup. Yet, that should not stop US Soccer from seeking a new head of the nation’s men’s team.

Top candidates to replace Gregg Berhalter on the USMNT

When US Soccer rehired Gregg Berhalter after the 2022 World Cup, it said it conducted an extensive process. Obviously, that process was a flawed plan by US Soccer Technical Director Matt Crocker, so US Soccer can’t afford to get it wrong this time.

There are several candidates the United States could go after if they are to make a splash in preparation for the World Cup 2026, which is also on home soil. The leading candidates are as follows:

Jesse Marsch

The top coach that could have taken over for Berhalter in early 2023 was Jesse Marsch. At the time, Marsch was out of a job following his dismissal from Leeds in the 2022/23 campaign. Marsch showed some promise with RB Salzburg. Additionally, he has an understanding of US Soccer and how it operates following his time as a player and coach in MLS. That has long been an unofficial qualification for hiring a USMNT head coach.

US Soccer interviewed Marsch for the position but strangely decided to re-hire Berhalter instead. Marsch passed on several job offers from clubs around Europe and eventually selected the Canada national team as his next job.

With the neighbors to the north, Marsch has had a small sample size of games to rate his progress, but growth is evident. Granted, Canada has scored just one goal in Marsch’s five games as a coach. That is still enough to pull out a draw against France, the No. 2 team in the FIFA World Rankings, in Bordeaux. Canada defeated Peru in the Copa America group stage while drawing against Chile.

Unlike the United States, Canada is through to the knockout stage of the Copa America. Yes, Canada has several top players like Alphonso Davies or Jonathan David. Yet, as a whole, the United States has a better crop of talent. He should, once again, be the leader among candidates to replace Gregg Berhalter as the USMNT head coach.

Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry, like Marsch, has had a mixed bag of results as a coach. His first senior managerial post was with Monaco, which did not go according to plan. He showed more success with Montreal in MLS, including a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs with a weaker team.

France’s performance in the upcoming Paris Olympics will be fascinating for US Soccer. Thierry Henry has expressed interest in the USMNT job, but US Soccer looked the other way.

At the same time, Thierry Henry has reportedly been in talks with Wales to become its next head coach. If Wales is close to hiring Henry, why can’t the United States? After all, Henry would be a guiding voice with his experience to impose on the Americans.

Marcelo Bielsa

One of the more qualified candidates in the running for the USMNT job before Gregg Berhalter arrived as the head coach was Marcelo Bielsa. The Argentine eventually went to Leeds United, where he guided the side back to the Premier League. Over the years since then, Bielsa was hired by the Uruguay national team. In a bit of poeticism, Bielsa was the one to deliver the finishing blow on Berhalter’s time as the USMNT head coach.

The only issue is courting Bielsa away from Uruguay. One of the hurdles is salary. US Soccer has been hesitant to pay coaches well, with Emma Hayes of the USWNT signaling a change in that policy. Hayes left the Chelsea women’s team to take on the highest salary for any coach of a women’s team. US Soccer would likely have to take another drastic step if it is to bring on Bielsa, who is the highest-paid coach at the 2024 Copa America.

However, you get what you pay for. And among coaches, Bielsa is regarded as one of the most scholarly coaches worldwide.

Pellegrino Matarazzo

If US Soccer wants to stick with an American, Pellegrino Matarazzo is arguably the most qualified of the coaches hailing from the United States. Matarazzo is currently the head coach at TSG Hoffenheim, where he has had immense success turning the Bundesliga side around. At the beginning of his stint with Hoffenheim, the club was a relegation candidate. Yet, in the most recent campaign, Matarazzo helped the side into the Europa League. Pellegrino Matarazzo has not spent any time in the American soccer scene, at least professionally. Yet, his qualifications are clear.

Matarazzo previously said he has an interest in the USMNT job. Admittedly passive, Matarazzo said he would want to return to the United States at some point as a coach. The USMNT would be a sensible spot for Matarazzo with ample European experience as a player and coach. He can connect to those who came through the ranks in Germany like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, the leaders in the squad.


Copa América 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Copa!
Copa América Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Copa games live in 2024
Key Dates: Learn All the important dates to mark on your calendar
Copa (United States of) América: South America's biggest tournament comes back to the USA
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer