Who will be the next manager of the USA? We run down the candidates.

If you assume, like I do, that Bob Bradley’s contract with US Soccer won’t be renewed in December, then you have to start thinking about who the USSF would hire to replace him. Here is my very early and admittedly speculative effort at naming the candidates.

The favorites:

Jurgen Klinsmann. This pick isn’t even about Klinsmann’s merits as much as whether Sunil Gulati feels that he needs to sign him as some sort of act of redemption to diehard US supporters. The reality is, Klinsmann has not won anything as a manager. In 2006, he rode the coattails of a veteran Germany team to the World Cup finals on home turf. Since then, he’s stunk out the joint in Munich and then hung around doing not much of anything. I maintain that we can do better.

Dominic Kinnear. In Houston, he has created as close to a dynasty as the modern MLS will allow. He’s helped develop lots of American talent including Stuart Holden, Brian Ching, and erm.. Ricardo Clark. Does he have the international chops after single seasons playing in Mexico and Scotland? That’s a good question, but I think he’s definitely someone Gulati will interview.

Sigi Schmid. It’s awfully hard to argue with his record in MLS but is that enough to warrant the US job. Does it hurt that he’s never played or coached outside the United States? I suspect, in this process, it might. That said, I think he’d be a good, if safe, pick, and has been at Seattle long enough for it not to be a crime if he leaves.

Peter Nowak. Now, I love this pick, but only if US Soccer commits to going young. He’s not the greatest of manager of older players and he can be staggeringly stubborn sometimes, but I can’t help thinking he’d make US Soccer a better place. Would he bail on the Union so quickly if the USSF came for him? That’s harder to say.

Outsiders US Soccer might talk to:

Fabio Capello. If England cans Capello, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Gulati at least feigns an interview with Fabio, if only to show fans the seriousness of the search process. He’s contacted Capello before, but I can’t imagine the Italian coming to the US in the wake of a firing by England. (That said, Capello won’t necessarily need that much money from the US, if England are forced to pay him off.)

Gerard Houllier. He’s available, having left Lyon in 2007 and not managed anyone since. I can see his sales points. He would bring all the best French youth development practices to America. That said, his brief record as an international manager was brief for a reason. Remember how France didn’t qualify for World Cup 94? Houllier was in charge then and responsible for icing out stars Eric Cantona and David Ginola before “leading” France to consecutive home losses to Israel and Bulgaria. And, ask any Liverpool fan, the only thing harder to watch than his teams are his press conferences.

People the USSF should talk to, but won’t:

Steve Nicol. You want to fix the defense? Stevie Nicol will fix the defense. Now, his appointment and the subsequent unwatchable US matches would probably set back the popularity of American soccer 15 years, but I suspect they’d get results. He’s got plenty of international experience with Liverpool and Scotland and speaks English about as well as you could hope for a Scot.

Joachim Löw. It’s hard to imagine he’d stick around after coaching Germany in Euro 2008 and this World Cup. If he comes available, I’d make a big, big push after him. He’s like Jurgen Klinsmann only with Moe Howard‘s haircut and an actual record of success. Must admit, I don’t know if he speaks English. If so, I’d love to see him come here.

Raddy Antic. A bit of a flyer pick here. He’s currently the manager of his native country Serbia, but Antic is a hugely experienced manager with stints at Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid and fluent in English after his time at Luton Town. He would be enormous experience and savvy to the US program. That said, he lives in Spain and it might be hard to wedge him out of a comfy situation to come to the US.

Luis Filipe Scolari. Currently managing Palmeiras in Brazil, would he be willing to come north to take over the US? I don’t know, but I think it’d be worth asking. He managed Brazil to a World Cup and after stints in Kuwait, Japan, and Turkey, clearly appreciates a challenge and check that clears.

Javier Aguirre. Other than simply screaming, “BUT HE’S MEXICAN!” can you give me one reason why he wouldn’t be worth at least talking to?

Right for the job, might even say yes under other circumstances, but probably tied up with a better gig:

Roberto Martinez. Spectacularly introduced himself to American soccer fans with his outstanding performance as an ESPN pundit. His performance at Wigan hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, but with a budget as limited as Wigan’s is, I don’t know how much to read into it. I really like the fact that he’s young and familiar with some very different soccer cultures including his native Spain but also with less sophisticated areas like England and Scotland. I think he might not be the right manager for the US this time around, but I would love to see him here after another 10 years under his belt

Roy Hodgson. Would be perfect for the US just as he’d be perfect for about a dozen other possible places including England if they whack Capello or Liverpool. Has managed and succeeded all over the world but I think he’ll be tied up with either Liverpool or England by the time Gulati would want to come calling.

Roberto Donadoni. Another figure with both international management experience and links to the US. He’s currently in charge of Napoli, if they were struggling come December, would be bail on them to come to the USA? I doubt it, but still at only 46, a name to remember.

Slaven Bilic. Was being lauded as one of the best young managers around especially after he led Croatia to a comfortable qualification in Euro 2008 despite having England and Russia in the same group. That said, once in the Alps, he was responsible in part for one of the great late game chokes of all time as Croatia fell to Turkey despite an apparent 119th minute winning goal. I’ll admit, he’s even less experienced than Klinsmann, but a 71% win percentage is nothing to shake your head at. At only 41, he might be another name to remember for the future.

Steve McClaren. If I told you that “Manager X” had managed to win sliverware with two different “small unfancied” clubs (in two different countries) after serving as an assistant on a massive club that won a Champions League, FA Cup and three league titles, you’d want to talk to that guy, right? Here’s the problem, that guy is Steve McClaren and the bigger problem is that he just accepted the coaching post at Wolfsburg and unless things go very ugly there, very quickly, won’t be around for Gulati to choose. In the wake of the three weeks, his lack of success with England is starting to look a bit more excusable. Is England to McClaren what the Red Bulls are to almost everyone in American coaching?

People whom the USSF shouldn’t talk to under any circumstances… block their phone #s if required

Sven Goran Eriksson. No one whores themselves out for jobs quite like Eriksson and I hope and pray his name doesn’t at least lurk as a possibility if Gulati wants to go foreign.

Carlos Queiroz. Responsible for much of the USSF’s old Project 2010 program, Queiroz at least has a decent understanding of American soccer. That said, as a head coach, hasn’t won anywhere. His Portugal team only just barely qualified for the 2010 World Cup and he was run out of Real Madrid on the proverbial rail after only one season. I think there may be a role for him in American soccer, but I’d rather it be as the high level development “big thinker” rather than the one actually coaching the national team.

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69 thoughts on “Who will be the next manager of the USA? We run down the candidates.

  1. I’m surprised you left Jose Pekerman off the list, considering many thought he was even more in the running than Klinsmann.

    But I think I might have to slash my wrists if Gulati hired Nowak. That would be worse than hiring Onalfo in my opinion. We need a coach with an open mind. As good a player as Nowak was, nothing in his coaching resume indicates that he has a clue how to mold a team.

  2. Another idea……….

    Marcelo Bielsa. He’s been absolutely great for Chile. Is he going to leave that post? Who knows. Does he speak English? Who knows……….partner him with an assistant that’s bilingual to start with.

  3. If we wanted to go safe and homegrown, I’d want USSF to pick Kinnear. He knows our players and our system and has experience on the national team, abroad, and in MLS.

    If we go foreign, I’m interested in Aguirre. He took Mexico to the next level, mixed in youth with experience (something that will be big for us this next cycle), and made Mexicans believe in their team again. Plus, how big will it be to see Aguirre on OUR bench in Azteca?

  4. This line: is worth the price of admission all by itself.

    BTW, if the goal is to move beyond being a tactically naive side that is seen as getting results by out-hustling its opposition, then Nowak is not the answer.

  5. Bonus with Aguirre – he can kick opposing players on the sideline and get away with it! He’s like Woody Hayes, w/o the, you know, consequences!

  6. Guus Hiddink? Marco van Basten? Like Soccerglue, I’d like to see the USSF talk to a Dutch coach to see what their interest is.

  7. I didn’t include Hiddink because he starts a contract with Turkey on Aug. 1. So that ruled him out as an option to me.

    Van Basten is different, he appears to be out of a job after leaving Ajax. Not a bad idea there.

  8. +1. I’d wipe out a village of farmers to make this happen.

    What about Dunga? He’s going to be fed up with Brazil after this round, and God knows we need more defense.

  9. Tell me again why you aren’t on the front page with Archer and Loney?

    Awesome breakdown. Thanks.

    EDIT: Sorry. The Klinsi talk seems to be in a different comments thread.

  10. Klinsmann is out. I have very close sources with USSF, Klinsmann wanted total control of the program, and therefore is no longer in consideration for the job. Although his name resurfaces all the time, he is not an option at this point.

    If randy lerner screws the pooch at Aston Villa, cant spend and loses his bright young talent, and somehow United finds a replacement for Fergie…. I LOVE MARTIN O’NEIL, what a coach, and is a master of the long ball (bless his heart) which fits the USA’s counter style. This guy can coach, and my club (Aston Villa) is about to lose one of the best coaches in the EPL.

  11. I like the Sigi Schmid pick myself. A good manager who knows tactics and how to man-manage, plus he was the experience of being the US U-20 coach, while isn’t the same as managing senior international football, still gave him international experience.
    Even though his brand of football is terribly boring, I do like the Steve Nicol pick as well. He’s fantastic at squeezing everything out of his players plus he’s very familiar with the US system but brings his years of experience of playing in Scotland and England.
    The other international names would be “sexy” picks but I think would turn out to be our version of Sven-Goran Erikkson. The US system here is unique and does take someone with knowledge of it and the ability to use it to their advantage. I can see alot of top-class managers coming in and looking at the system here and completely scratching their heads at it and fruitlessly try to change it.

  12. Donadoni hasn’t been at Napoli since Oct 09. His name was in the mix for the vacant Milan job, but he is currently unemployed.

    As for the Klinsi issue, I don’t know which of the “big” int’l guys will want to come here w/o some level of control beyond just picking teams, holding camps and then managing games every other month. It’s a gamble, but if the USSF wants to truly move forward, they need a complete overhaul and this would be the way to do it.

  13. Next level? I’m not sure I’d go that far. I’d say he ‘righted the ship’ and got Mexico to play to the expected level.

  14. How about Maradona? He’s done a great job and with Bill Clinton and Mick Jaggar on the US soccer bandwagon, can you imagine those victory parties in Brazil in 2014?!?!

  15. he can go all whacko on you after a while. Changing formation in 2002 against the U.S. due to the first goal. Insisting on using Franco, Conejo Perez and Bofo while at the World Cup. Yanking Guardado when he was playing decent and not letting him participate in other matches…

    Aguirre did a great job in the qualifiers (twice), but he went absolutely crazy once he made it to the World Cup (twice).

    he is not a bad manager, but sometimes he can make you ask: WTF?

  16. Boy it’d be nice if Sunil could hire a world class defense and striker or two to go along with that new coach.

  17. For all his track record, the guy has been quite unsuccessful as of late… went nowhere with England, almost drove Mexico to the cliff and then had the gaul to say he had a better team with Ivory Coast, just to see them disqualified in the first round.

  18. Guus Hiddink has a job.

    van Basten? He might be available.

    This is going to sound crazy to some people, but a guy who knows CONCACAF, is Dutch, and probably available is Leo Beenhakker. He’s coached club football at the highest levels (Ajax, Feyenoord, Real Madrid), as well as the Dutch and T&T national teams (among other jobs). He’s also served as the technical director at both Ajax and Feyenoord (which I think is his current job).

    He’s in his late 60’s now, so maybe he’s past the point of wanting the job……………

    The other drawback is that he looks remarkably like Skeletor.

  19. It could be said of just about every single country in CONCACAF, and just about one of those countries always believes that a great coach will eventually make the country’s soccer great or at least much better. I have yet to see that happen.

    A coach at this level will not, can not, develop players that will be able to execute what he wants on the field. I’ts like buying a brand new shiny 45 and using 22s to fire it. Arena said it very well, “we just don’t have the players.”

    Just saying, you can’t have one without the other.

  20. He is another one of those “hot and cold” coaches though. I remember his time in Mexico… he made América into a very spectacular team his first time around (they were defeating most of the competition by a margin of at least 2 goals, and scored in bunches as well), but with Chivas and later on in his second stint in America he didn’t do well at all.

  21. Our problems are not fixable in this four year cycle. Even if our defense becomes as stingy as the Galaxy’s defense, we still lack the quality in our first touch. No coach is going to change that at the senior level.

    We need the kind of coach who knows how to get the most out of what he has. One coach who was able to do that in recent memory was Phillipe Troussier. He was brought to prominence in the fútbol world by coaching an unfancied Senegal in 2002 to a place in the quarterfinals.

    I’m not saying he should be hired, but we need a coach like him, and I’m in agreement that it should be a Dutch coach not named Van Basten, Rijkaard, or Gullit.

  22. Can’t judge Dunga by how Brasil does. It’s like judging Maradona by how Argentina does. Not a very wise move. Besides, Dunga is very viceral in his coaching style and it’s gonna clash with the collegiate egos here in the States.

    Carlos Alberto Parreira has a history with MLS and many world cups under his belt and he’s not gonna stick around SA. Queiroz may want to try his luck with the Nats now that Portugal is eliminated and is familiar with US footy.

  23. Please explain to me how you can keep stating that Klinsmann stunk up the joint at Bayern!?! They were in 3rd place when he was fired….THIRD PLACE!! That is hardly “stinking” in my opinion. Bayern may not like that because of the fact that they are Bayern but again, they were not stinking as you like to put it.

    Honestly, everytime you write something about Klinsmann, it comes across as very biased. Did he run over your dog or what?

  24. Third place for Bayern is utter failure.

    I’m not suggesting it and I don’t support it, but the question has to be asked:

    Why not Bruce Arena?

    Compare his CV and anyone listed above and Arena wins easily.

  25. Well Bayern basically has all the best players in the Bundesliga and buys players from the other top teams just to sit on their bench. They are basically in a Rangers/Celtic position where either you win or you messed up.

    The problem with Klinnsman at Bayern was that the Bayern heirarchy complained about him the entire time he was coaching the national team until he had his World Cup run (which btw, I’m pretty sure the US would have at least gotten to the match against Argentina with the draw Germany got and home field, AND if Pekerman coached as poorly against the US as he did against Germany we might have beaten them on PKs too). So I think as much as anything they were looking for a chance to either have Klinnsman bring glory to Bayern or to bury him.

    Let’s look at our coaching carousel

    1990 Gansler
    1994 Bora
    1998 Sampson
    2002 Arena
    2006 Arena
    2010 Bradley

    I think its time to go outside the USSF just to get some fresh ideas. I’d actually like to see us get a successful eastern European coach that grew up playing high pressure, turn over, counter attack with organized defense.

  26. You trash on Klinsmann, who really wasn’t given enough time at Bayern, for getting fired while being in what third place or whatever? Third place in one of the best leagues in the europe. You trash on Klinsmann for taking a “veteran” Germany to third in the world cup? Did you not see how freaking bad Germany was in 2004? He helped completely revamp their style into one that is seen 2010. You probably want to give Low all the credit for that, too, right?

    Yet you pimp Nowak who has not done any better at any level in his life as a player or a coach when compared to Klinsmann.

    Just wow.

  27. my picks from what we know to impossible in the order i’d prefer i suppose

    budget – bradley – can’t do better for the money. never been a big fan, but then i expected a little more than i got out of the team this year. thing is we should be a top 16 team, on the cusp of the top ten, given the right conditions.

    ultimate pragmatist – otto rehhagel – abyssmal football, pretty good results

    likely – klinsmann – not sure that he can make the difference or that he’s a defensive tactician that the job will absolutely require

    less likely – stevie nicol, sigi – they’re probably too good for the ussf to pick them

    unthinkable – arena – a better coach than bradley, just seemed to get a little stuck on ex-uva players. i’d probably rather have stevie or sigi.

    doesn’t seem possible – low – master tactician and who cares if he can or can’t speak english. hodgson – a defensive specialist who can get the most out of his players.

    just not going to happen – hiddink – who we should’ve signed on before even going to wc 06. probably the best international manager ever.

    total fantasy – arsene wenger, jose mourinho – quite simply the best managers on the planet, and i’m not a big fergie fan

    damn the time continuum – brian clough

  28. I still want Ricardo LaVolpe just so we can get camera shots of him chain smoking on the sidelines. He’s available too.

  29. “Roberto Donadoni. Another figure with both international management experience and links to the US. He’s currently in charge of Napoli”

    He is not. Napoli fired him after two~three months. The coach at Napoli is Mazzarri. But I agree that he could be a good candidate.

  30. Well for practicality purposes, I believe Kinnear is the right domestic guy for the job if only because he’s familiar/coached some of our NAT players.
    Guys like Holden, Donovan,Clark.
    Plus guys like Cameron who could help shore up our defense.
    Just being realistic here.We have some serious holes to fill.

    On the foreign front I want to do more research as to who might be available after the Cup.

    If Martinez wasn’t tied to Wigan, I’d bring him in.
    He’s young,dynamic and a good judge of talent.

    Laughed at someone mentioning Aguirre.
    You guys do realize that as a youngster he played for the Los Angeles Aztecs(old NASL) before they folded.

  31. Actually, you posted that you were disappointed we didn’t get him, but preferred an American manager. Not being a dick, just pointing it out for clarity’s sake. And to be a dick, but that’s secondary.

  32. That’s fair. I flipped on Klinsmann after I found out the extent to which he wanted control of the entire USSF and the way in which he arrived at Bayern talking a very big game and left with his tail firmly between his legs. If the USSF wanted to hire him as a “big technical director” kind of thing fine, but I don’t want one German, only qualified to be a baker or soccer player, to be running the entire USSF.

  33. Yes… he still has the pornstache. Lavolpe is one of those guys that make me realize how old I am. I remember watching him goalkeeping live in the Aztec Stadium in the final between Atlante and Tigres back in the day (when Tigres was still a good team). He certainly was a good goalkeeper. He would be an event better coach if he didn’t feel the need to antagonize with everyone.

    I have to wonder why his wife has not left him… bitter, bitter man.

  34. I remember there being a bit of a debate over Klinsmann before Bradley took over, and that he was passed over because he wanted “too much control” over the goings-on at the USSF. I dunno, maybe that would be a good thing if there was someone who could come in with new ideas and change the mentality here. I don’t know exactly what “control” Klinsi wanted and what the USSF considered the deal-breaker, but as a general rule, it shouldn’t disqualify him.

    Now if it is a foreign, know-it-all manager with the work ethic of Ruud Gullit, the tactics of Steve Sampson, the modesty of Bruce Arena, well, that’s another story!

    As for Nicol, he is an interesting option, but wouldn’t it be a massive, massive conflict of interest for him to even be considered for the Nats job? He coaches the Revs and in order to secretly negotiate for a better job on a higher level, he’d need to talk to USSF president Sunil Gulati. I hope Sunil can keep his mouth shut and not spill the beans to the guy who is the director of Kraft Soccer Inc., some guy named Sunil Gulati.

    How can you justify poaching talent from one of your jobs to fill an opening at another? Of course, the Revs would be hosed if Nicol leaves, but I suppose things can’t get much worse than they are now, can they?

    If that doesn’t work out, maybe Gulati can let Nicol teach a few courses in the Economics dept. at Columbia U. I can see it now… “Rate, thessis hoe it works. Ye gut thess begg fockin pale-a mooney oover here, and a wee li-ul one oover there, and then ye com-bane them ta make an even beggar fockin pale a mooney…”

  35. Hey, not a bad idea.
    But then again he also hit the wall in a very winnable game against Austria at the U20 Cup.
    I believe the reason was that he ran the team to the ground.
    Sound familiar

  36. Klinsmann should be taken off the list, because unless US Soccer allows him to run the whole thing from U10’s to National senior side, he ain’t coming.

    Leo Beenhakker, Steve Nicol, Sigi Shimid & Dominic Kinnear are the four clear cut choices. Steve McLaren is a nice mention.

  37. Aguirre is not gonna happen. US fans won’t like it, but more important the Mexican public would hate him for it. Same goes for any Mexican who cares about his reputation.

  38. JK deserves a lot of credit you are not giving him for changing the way Germany plays and approaches the game.

    More emphasis on passing and movement, and on fitness. Low is reaping the benefits.

  39. I think Sigi is a better choice look what he did with LA then he went to Columbus and rebuilt that team to winner, Then he went to Seattle where they won they US open Cup and Made the playoffs all in the first year. Kinnear just took over Houston a MLS cup winning team never had to take over a losing team.

  40. No hate, man. Just looking at the guys without a job who have had success on a global stage. Personally I want Klinnsman.

  41. Steve Nicol would fix the defense, eh?

    I believe that as of this morning, the Revolution are dead last in MLS in Goals Against.

  42. Klinnsman is the man for the job, he should have been the head coach but hey we all make mistakes right? Lets just hope that Sunil Gulati make the right move this time. Klinnsman is a proven coach he has won a world cup winners medal and almost took a young german team to the final, he coached Bayern to the 2007 league title in case anyone forgot. So he had a bad 2008 season it happens to every coach one season your on top of the world the next season your at the bottom of the food chain. I am all for Klinnsman and Klinnsman only.

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