Now that Bruce Arena has signed on to manage the U.S. Men’s National Team, what does this mean for the future of the team? All we know is that Arena has been signed on through the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Whether or not Arena stays on after will be decided at that time.
But now that we know who is leading the team through 2018, who could it be after that? Whether they are realistic or improbable candidates, here are five (more than five) possibilities to manage the USMNT after the 2018 World Cup
Bruce Arena will be the current USMNT manager in 2018 so it’s natural to look at him to keep the job into 2022. While USSF President Sunil Gulati and Arena haven’t discussed anything past 2018. If the United States doesn’t qualify for the World Cup, Arena is not going to remain manager. There will also be the unknowns of what Arena will do to the squad and whether or not he’ll play dual-national players in favor of American-born and MLS players.
But let’s assume Arena gets the United States into the World Cup and have a respectable run in Russia. And Gulati is satisfied that Arena is choosing the best players for the team regardless of where they come from. If he remains on, Arena will be dedicating six years to the USMNT. While he refuted his age being a factor, Arena will be 67 in 2018 and 71 by Qatar 2022. Arena still has it in him to devote six years to the National Team but will he want to?
Along the lines of Bruce Arena, U.S. Soccer could look within for their manager but in a different direction. Tab Ramos is currently the assistant manager and former U-20 manager. He is also the youth technical director and until a replacement is named, is interim technical director.
Ramos’ coaching career with the youth teams has been shaky at times but he does have a Quarterfinal berth in the 2015 U-20 World Cup, losing in penalties to eventual champion Serbia. Despite that, I can see Ramos as a candidate but there are better options out there.
The collection of MLS coaches
Caleb Porter, Gregg Berhalter, Jesse Marsch, Peter Vermes, Pablo Mastroeni and Oscar Pareja are just some of the MLS names floating around as possibilities to take over the USMNT. Each have their own qualities and bring something to the table. The most likely possibility is Sporting KC’s Peter Vermes, who along with Arena, was reportedly contacted about taking over the USMNT over the past year.
As a player, Vermes was one of the early 90’s American players to go to Europe and play professionally. He seems to believe in a healthy mix of players from MLS as well as international leagues. He has been known to scout and find future players as he did with guys like Graham Zusi, Matt Besler and Dom Dwyer among others. And the one thing that Vermes does that Klinsmann didn’t do, Vermes sticks with a formation (almost to a fault). Sometimes that can cause issues but at least the players know where they will be playing.
Someone on the radar of many people’s minds has been former Argentina and Chile manager Marcelo Bielsa. Many see Bielsa as the guy to come in and take the team to the next level in hopes to win the World Cup. But wasn’t that what we said about Jurgen Klinsmann in 2011? I sure said that at the time just like many other people and look how that turned out.
I’m not saying Bielsa is going to go down the same road as Klinsmann but he will probably want to be technical director as well and many people saw Klinsmann’s tenure as evidence that the manager and technical director roles should go to different people. I’m just saying that we should have learned the lesson of hiring a “big name” and automatically assuming that everything is going to magically improve.
Frank de Boer
Frank de Boer hasn’t been linked at all with the USMNT job so this is more of a fantasy choice but if U.S. Soccer wants to improve the senior team as well as youth development, De Boer is a suitable candidate.
As youth coach of Ajax, an assistant for the Netherlands during their 2010 World Cup Final run and then manager of Ajax, De Boer was recently fired as manager of Inter. In all honesty, while he would be a great manager, I would rather have De Boer as technical director and focus on shifting youth development to a more modern and European system.