USA soccer coaching candidates: With Gregg Berhalter out, could Jurgen Klopp step in as USMNT manager?

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After being knocked out of Copa America in the group stage of the tournament, the United States Soccer Federation is moving on from coach Gregg Berhalter, according to Fox Sports. This creates an opportunity for U.S. Soccer technical director Matt Crocker to determine what the future holds for the United States men’s national team ahead of the 2026 World Cup.

After previously bringing in one of the best coaches in the world, Emma Hayes, to lead the women’s squad, U.S. Soccer has shown that the best managers can be attracted to America. Still, there are questions about whether the men’s job is as attractive of a role even with a World Cup on home soil in 2026.

With so much regarding USMNT up in the air, let’s take a look at the top managerial candidates to take over for Berhalter. We’ll start with a dream option before moving into perhaps more realistic targets.

Ideal choice

Jurgen Klopp, former Liverpool manager: While Klopp stepped down from Liverpool and plans to take time away from management, U.S. Soccer wouldn’t be doing their due diligence if they didn’t call him and see if there was a chance that he’d like to lead the USMNT during the 2026 World Cup. There’s no bigger name available on the market right now, and Klopp’s drive and style are things that would suit the side to take this group of players to the next level. While unlikely, why not call and see what happens? He also coached Christian Pulisic at Borussia Dortmund and seems fond of the player. 

Proven international coaches

Joachim Low, former Germany manager: A World Cup winner with Germany, Low’s attacking style would be a stark departure from Berhalter’s principles in a good way. This team needs to find its way as an attacking force to lean into the fact that most of the best players are on the attacking side of the pitch. Having coached some of the world’s best, Low is someone who could come in and immediately demand respect while restoring excitement ahead of the 2026 World Cup.

Herve Renard, France women’s manager: Architect of one of the biggest World Cup upsets ever as Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina at the 2022 World Cup, the current manager of the French women’s international side is set to depart following the Olympics. International sides have improved under Renard as he has now led Zambia, Angola, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and now France, so could he add another international side?

Gareth Southgate, England manager: Alright, so there could be a situation where Southgate wins Euros and rides off into the sunset departing England. While he was linked to Manchester United, they’ve opted to keep Ten Hag creating another situation of why not call when the worst that you’d hear is no? And if you are mocking him as being called proven, just remember he’s gotten to a World Cup semifinal and a Euro final before Euro 2024. 

Experience coaching the big boys

Mauricio Pochettino, former Chelsea manager: Pochettino has a wealth of experience while also being well-liked by most of his players. But when you’re on the outs with Pochettino, he has been someone not afraid to address it, demanding more from his teams. The accountability factor and proven track record with improving young players are things that could be important for helping this group grow. Like Klopp, attainability could be the issue as Pochettino will still be in the mix for club jobs and could also be a suitor for the England job if it were to open.

Frank Lampard, former Chelsea manager: Reportedly being in the running for the Canada job before Jesse Marsch was brought in, Lampard is someone who has had a middling time managing in club soccer with Chelsea but being a good club manager doesn’t always mean that someone will be a good national team manager. This is in no way advocating for Lampard to get the role but when considering who could end up on a list for U.S. Soccer, Lampard could come up in discussions. 

Zinedine Zidane, former Real Madrid manager: No one knows what the former Real Madrid manager wants to do next as he could be waiting for the France job to open but it’s another situation where it doesn’t hurt to make the call. Both a legend himself and with experience managing other legends of the game, Zidane could bring a perspective to the USMNT that these players have never experienced which is something that could help push them to the next level.

Max Allegri, former Juventus manager: Having managed Tim Weah and Weston McKennie, there’s already a sense of familiarity with the USMNT for the former Juventus boss. Someone with plenty of experience in his career, Allegri has finished as a runner-up for Champions League twice while winning Serie A six times. Allegri could have quite a few suitors for his services but a shift to the United States could make sense.

Thomas Tuchel, former Bayern Munich manager: With Erik ten Hag staying at Manchester United, Tuchel is still without a job after departing Bayern Munich. Like Klopp, the United States getting Tuchel would probably be a pipe dream but with his attacking ideas and familiarity with Pulisic, there are few managers who could get more out of the USMNT attack in a short period of time. 

Marcelo Gallardo, former Al-Ittihad manager: Gallardo has had quite a ride since departing River Plate. It seemed like he was destined for a top European role but it just hasn’t materialized. If a job like the United States were to open, Gallardo does have pedigree and an attacking style which could suit the team. He’s also familiar with the United States having played for D.C. United. 

Graham Potter, former Chelsea manager: After departing Chelsea in 2023, Potter has been a free agent since. Linked to Ajax, nothing ended up coming together for the Englishman but similarly to Julian Nagelsmann, a short term move to international management could be what the doctor ordered. 

Stefano Pioli, former Milan manager: Of the current free agents, Pioli could be the one who makes the most sense for the USMNT. Getting the best out of Pulisic for Milan despite the club struggling as a whole, Pioli has had links to clubs like Marseille but they haven’t led to the Italian finding a role. Flexible in his style, could the USMNT be that next step?

David Moyes, former West Ham manager: In a similar boat to Pioli, Moyes departed West Ham United at the end of the season. With the Hammers, Moyes has been able to do more with less winning the Europa Conference League for the club’s first major trophy since 1980. At 61, there could be a chance that Moyes would want to take a step back from the game for a little but his experience is well-suited.

Rudi Garcia, former Napoli manager: Another manager with experience in Saudi Arabia who could be looking for a new role, Garcia has plenty of experience having coached at Lille, Napoli, Roma, and Marseille. It was a disappointing spell at Napoli after they won the Scudetto but that isn’t all down to what Garcia did with the club.

Best of the MLS

Wilfried Nancy, Columbus Crew manager: The best coach currently in Major League Soccer, Nancy has been linked to European roles and may find one of those to be more attractive than taking a role with the USMNT, but he’s another manager where in doing due diligence, he needs to be called and offered an interview. Employing different tactical styles with the Columbus Crew and also playing on the front foot, Nancy is someone who would endear himself to USMNT fans quickly. 

Jim Curtin, Philadelphia Union manager: A former United States international who got into coaching through MLS, there are similarities between Berhalter and the current Philadelphia Union boss but that’s where they end. Season after season, Curtin has done more with less in Philadelphia while turning the team into one where everyone knows how they should play. Also known for improving young players and having coached current members of the U.S. setup, Curtin is someone who would likely be looked at if the role is open.

Steve Cherundolo, Los Angeles FC manager: An extremely accomplished player, Cherundolo cut his teeth in Germany with Hannover 96 and has found success coming stateside with Los Angeles FC. Playing attractive soccer and also managing stars with the Black and Gold, his star is quickly rising in the coaching ranks, but the only question would be does he have enough experience for the role? Being a former international, that likely wouldn’t matter, however, as those ties to the U.S. are always worth something. 

Pat Noonan, FC Cincinnati manager: While similar to Curtin in MLS play, the attack of Noonan’s FC Cincinnati side is something to behold. Even after losing Brandon Vazquez to Monterrey, they’re atop the Eastern Conference with one of the best goal differences in MLS. Cincinnati’s system has been one that leads to goals and it could suit the USMNT setup as well, especially if his star becomes a U.S. citizen.

Gary Smith, former Nashville SC manager: Smith had an impressive run with Nashville SC as their first coach ever but that has come to an end leaving him as a free agent. Another coach who has done more with less, Smith has coached Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore while also managing Canadian international Jacob Shaffleburg. Smith’s attention to detail would translate well to the international game but there are questions of if the lack of attacking punch in his Nashville sides were because of players or his style. 

Other American coaches

David Wagner, former Norwich manager: If you can’t get Klopp, there are worse ideas than calling someone who worked under him. This is where we get into more attainable options even if they may not be as attractive as some of the non-domestic names. Wagner has done good things with Huddersfield Town but also had his fair share of managerial disappointments which could detract from him becoming a serious contender for the role.

Pelligrino Matarazzo, Hoffenheim manager: Out of the American coaches, Matazzaro is one who could have the least interest in a role with the United States due to being in a strong role currently with Hoffenheim. Joining in February of 2023, Matarazzo led them to a Europa League spot so it’d be down to — is the USMNT job a bigger role than managing a European contender in Europe?

Bruce Arena, former USMNT manager: Spell three of Arena with the USMNT feels like one too many but the 72-year-old is still interested in being a manager even after his dismissal from the New England Revolution for discriminatory remarks. An appointment with Arena would need to come with some transparency of why he was dismissed but when he has been one of the most successful USMNT managers ever and was the person who the federation turned to with the 2018 World Cup on the line, there are reasons why he could be an emergency hire ahead of 2026, though highly unlikely. 

Crocker connections

Ruben Selles, Reading manager: While Selles hasn’t had much top-level managerial experience, this is where experience with Crocker comes into play. Selles has twice been the caretaker manager of Southampton during Crocker’s time at the club and has been in management since age 23, gaining experience all over the world at such a young age. While it hasn’t led to a top role yet, it could be putting Selles on the road to international management.   

Ralph Hasenhuttl, Wolfsburg manager: Keeping with managers who have worked under Crocker, Hasenhuttl is another unlikely name to coach the USMNT but his style would work well. Pressing and being aggressive are when the USMNT are at their best and it’s something that he would have the team doing while utilizing their wing backs to create space and strengthen the midfield. 

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