US Soccer has decided to delay a future renewal deal for Gregg Berhalter. Instead, the US Soccer Federation has appointed temporary coach Anthony Hudson to oversee the January camp.
A final decision on whether to renew Berhalter’s deal for two or four years has not been finalized yet. That decision is pending an investigation of blackmail claims by Berhalter. Plus US Soccer Sporting Director Earnie Stewart is conducting a review of Berhalter’s tenure to determine if he’s the best fit for the US moving forward.
Now that we know that the US Soccer has delayed its final decision, it’s certainly time to evaluate other candidates for the position. After all, the United States is co-hosting the 2026 World Cup on home soil. And if this country ever wants a serious chance at making a deep run in a tournament, 2026 is it.
It’s important now more than ever that US makes a bold decision by hiring a coach who can develop the squad over the next three years to be the best it can be. There’s no time for settling.
Time to look at other coaches after US Soccer Berhalter deal is delayed
The following list are suitable candidates that should be on the radar for US Soccer. Essentially, they are world-class coaches out of a job with incredible experience that would serve the US well.
1. Thomas Tuchel
The former Chelsea, PSG, Borussia Dortmund and Mainz manager most recently oversaw Christian Pulisic. On surface level, the two had rapport. And Pulisic, one of the side’s most important players, could adapt easily to a Tuchel system. Of course, the two had issues. It may have not been anything personal, even if Pulisic’s father voiced concerns, but Pulisic had limited playing time under the German.
Still, Tuchel is a gifted coach. He led PSG to the Champions League Final for the first time in 2020. Then, a year later, he won the competition as the 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 ‘Coach of the Year’ accolades in 2021.
His system showed success in cup competitions. The patented back three Tuchel uses allows for easy transition from a hefty defense into a rapid offense. Reece James thrived and became a premier full back. Same goes for Ben Chilwell, who dealt with a major knee injury, also thrived under Tuchel. Sergiño Dest, one of the bright young prospects in the USMNT camp, could develop rapidly under Tuchel. Plus, Dest already has a knack for offensive prowess.
Tuchel still has no experience in the international game, but he poised an interesting possibility.
2. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane may not have coached international soccer, either. However, few managers rival the success of the legend in his short stints with Real Madrid. See, that is the only team he has coached. He has two spells that yielded remarkable success. Three Champions League titles, a pair of LaLiga crowns, two each of Club World Cups and UEFA Super Cups then two more Supercopa de España wins. Remember, he only had three full seasons in charge, then two more abbreviated stints.
His best trait is man management. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and more. It seems as if anyone could coach a team with that depth and talent to success. Yet, for whatever reason, Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari could simply not do it.
As US Soccer gives Gregg Berhalter a new deal, fans wanted to see the tournament ability of Zidane applied to an international side that, even though it as talented as Real Madrid, is a young and promising batch of players. Also, it would 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. Therefore, he likely never considered the USMNT job. However, in terms of available names, Martinez is perhaps among the more practical choices.
The Spaniard coached Belgium for a relatively long stretch. Martinez took over the Red Devils back in 2016 after the side crashed out of the European Championship to Wales. With Martinez in charge, Belgium did not have much success. A third place finish in the 2018 World Cup was certainly the highlight. However, a quarterfinals exit at Euro 2020 preceded a shocking 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 Finals.
The key problem was the fact that Belgium was among the most talented teams in the world, but failed to accomplish anything of note. Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens were all in their prime during Martinez’s time in charge. Still, Belgium failed to make too much noise.
If US Soccer decided not to give Gregg Berhalter a new contract, Martinez could have provided invaluable experience. His time at two World Cups showed what to do right and, just as important, what not to do.
4. Luis Enrique
Another manager out of a job following the 2022 World Cup, Luis Enrique was acclaimed as a top manager. He had Spain humming along, playing beautiful soccer. That was, at least, after the opening game of the tournament. The next three games at the World Cup, a draw, loss and elimination on penalties, showed the flaws in Enrique’s system. If a team can win possession off Enrique’s team, they are vulnerable.
Still, Enrique has the experience and the knowledge to develop a young American team. Berhalter attempted to dominate in possession. In fact, the United States had a huge share of possession in three of its four World Cup games. The only one it did not was against Iran, a game the side clung to a 1-0 lead. Even then, the USMNT had 49% possession.
Therefore, Enrique could easily sift into the possession-based system Berhalter employed. However, he would incorporate the quick passing and clinical finishing the United States lacked at times against the Netherlands. Yet, like Martinez, Enrique wants to return to club play. He does not bring the tiki-taka and passing style to Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie.
5. Mauricio Pochettino
Not long ago, Mauricio Pochettino was the hottest commodity among coaches. He led Tottenham Hotspur into its most successful moments of the most recent decades. A Premier League battle came up short against Leicester City. Several years later, Tottenham played in its first UEFA Champions League Final. Dramatic second legs against Manchester City and Ajax perhaps 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 the winter of 2021, replacing the outgoing Thomas Tuchel. Despite defeating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the knockout stages, PSG fell to Manchester City, losing in both legs of that semifinal tie. The Argentine manager then had all the expectation in the world for his second season, as the club acquired Lionel Messi. However, it was a relative disaster for the Parisians. PSG won the league, but that was its only trophy. It was the first time since 2012/13 campaign that PSG only won one trophy. PSG swapped managers, with Christophe Galtier coming in.
Pochettino remains unemployed, but a familiar name in the potential market for jobs across Europe. The United States was one of those jobs, albeit it is not the familiarity of club management in Europe. Gregg Berhalter remains the coach with a new US Soccer deal, but Pochettino brings an air of desire and commitment. He showed immense growth at PSG and Southampton, bringing those clubs to new heights. He could have done the same with the United States.
Berhalter’s time is done
Under Berhalter’s tenure, the United States did more than just reach 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 of those, Berhalter used largely different squads to defeat Mexico in the final game. In CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, the United States finished third. It was three points behind both Mexico and Canada.
However, not everything about Berhalter’s time in charge of the United States has been a success. Controversy regarding the handling of Giovanni Reyna’s use at the World Cup was an embarrassing look for the coach. Berhalter said Reyna did not play due to injury. Yet, he later revealed on a panel that Reyna did not play due to off-the-field issues, including lack of commitment in training.
Others complained over Berhalter’s team selection. He left Jordan Pefok off the World Cup squad, instead opting for MLS-based talent such as Jordan Morris.
At World Cup 2022, his side reached the round of 16 at the World Cup. There, the USA lost to the Netherlands, 3-1. Focusing on the game itself, he got out-coached by Louis Van Gaal, who didn’t consider the US much of a threat.
Most recently, Berhalter disclosed an incident of domestic violence between him and his girlfriend (now wife). Although it happened more than 30 years ago, it’s not a good look for a US Soccer coach leading a team into the next World Cup.
The time is now for US Soccer to act.
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