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Why potential Gregg Berhalter replacements would (and wouldn’t) fit as USMNT manager

Here's why your favorite pick to fill Berhalter's shoes is a smart one. And why it's not.

10 min read

The Gregg Berhalter era is over for the U.S. men’s national team.

After an early exit at this summer’s Copa America, U.S. Soccer fired Berhalter. The official announcement came on Wednesday, formally kicking off another search for a USMNT manager just over a year since the last one — that resulted in Crocker re-hiring Berhalter — concluded.

“I want to thank Gregg for his hard work and dedication to U.S. Soccer and our Men’s National Team,” said U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement. “We are now focused on working with our Sporting Director Matt Crocker and leveraging his experience at the highest levels of the sport to ensure we find the right person to lead the USMNT into a new era of on-field success.” 

The USMNT’s failure in the group stage this summer wasn’t all on Berhalter, of course. But after years of predictable results, the United States’ Copa America exit provided a natural break point for the team and its coach. While Berhalter did many things well during his time on the sidelines, it seemed clear that he was unlikely to meaningfully elevate the team moving forward.

The USMNT has stagnated under Gregg Berhalter — it’s time to find a new manager
After years of predictable results, the United States’ Copa America exit provides a natural break point for the team and its coach.

Will the perfect manager with just the right blend of experience, pedigree, charisma, energy, and tactical knowledge emerge to shepherd the United States towards World Cup glory when the tournament kicks off on home soil in two years?

It’s not impossible, but it sure is doubtful. Many are happy to chock up U.S. Soccer’s decision to rehire Berhalter last summer to the federation’s poor decision-making. In reality, that decision serves as a reminder that the role of USMNT manager isn’t as appealing as one might think.

Still, looking around at a list of potential replacements, there’s another manager out there who could help guide the United States to more expected results. There’s also a chance, however slight, that a replacement could add real value to the USMNT in the form of a new voice, a tactical tweak, varied personnel, or something else entirely. When you’re outside of the global elite, any little thing that could help close the competitive gap is worth pursuing.

“Our immediate focus is on finding a coach who can maximize our potential as we continue to prepare for the 2026 World Cup, and we have already begun our search process,” Crocker said.

Today, I’m running through a list of theoretical candidates to fill Berhalter’s shoes. More than that, I’m examining what makes each coach a snug fit for the U.S. and what could serve as a snag for their appointment. It’s far from an exhaustive list of names, but, hey, you gotta start somewhere.


The MLS candidates

Steve Cherundolo, LAFC

Why he would fit: If there’s a coaching candidate who can relate to the current crop of U.S. players — and maybe squeeze a bit more focus out of them ahead of big and small games alike — it’s Cherundolo. The longtime USMNT fullback has been in their shoes and has begun diversifying LAFC’s attacking gameplan this season. 

Why he wouldn’t: Cherundolo has had tons of success with LAFC since he took over in 2022. But looking at their roster, it’s not like he’s had to be anything close to a miracle worker. He’s had an excellent collection of players in every season and his LAFC squad has performed accordingly.

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