With the U.S. men's national team and Mexico national jobs both currently in caretaker mode and at least a pair of plum MLS gigs set to open up, the next couple of months figure to be significant ones on multiple fronts.
The coaching carousel always gets kicked into overdrive around this time of year in North America, but this year is significantly different.
With the U.S. men's national team and Mexico national jobs both currently in caretaker mode and at least a pair of plum MLS gigs set to open up, the next couple of months figure to be significant ones on multiple fronts. There's already been some movement, with presumed Mexico frontrunner and former Chivas manager Matias Almeyda taking the San Jose Earthquakes job, but plenty more is in the offing–and soon.
With Tata Marino set to leave Atlanta United, that should set off a domino effect among clubs and countries, so let's take a closer look at who appears to be in the crosshairs–not necessarily who should be–and how things may shake out in the next few weeks and months:
THE KEY PLAYERS
Gerardo "Tata" Martino
With the rumors of his Atlanta United departure now confirmed, the only question left to answer is what's next? All signs point to the Mexico national team, with the U.S. Soccer Federation apparently not considering Martino at all. According to ESPNFC, Martino will take the Mexico job after MLS Cup on Dec. 8. Whether it's because English isn't Martino's first language–as USMNT GM Earnie Stewart has stipulated is a factor–or for other reasons entirely, it's a bit mystifying that a coach with Martino's track record doesn't appear to be on the USA's radar whatsoever. That he has been quite accessible to U.S. Soccer and his technical director, Carlos Bocanegra, co-chairs the federation's technical development committee, makes it even more surprising that he wouldn't at the very least be approached for introductory talks. That he could wind up coaching the USA's rival opens the door for the federation to have even more egg on its face in the coming years.
The supposed frontrunner for the U.S. job will appear to have some options. According to SI's Grant Wahl, he's on the LA Galaxy's wishlist. With the Columbus Crew seemingly staying put, though, perhaps he'd like to see out what he's built in Ohio. And then there's the issue of this season with the Crew. Columbus is barely holding onto playoff positioning, and it could miss the postseason with the wrong set of results in Sunday's season finales. Would an inability to guide an MLS team to the playoffs, even given all of the distraction around the team, be a disqualifying factor for U.S. Soccer, regardless of Berhalter's other credentials? It's doubtful, but it'd take a strong set of spin to sell on the fanbase that's had to wait over a year for a resolution.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto
The 2008 MLS MVP (Columbus) has led Boca Juniors to great heights as a manager but is widely expected to leave at the end of this season. He's been connected to the LA Galaxy and Atlanta United, and given his rising coaching profile, his knowledge of MLS (at least what it used to be) and ability to relate to and attract young, South American talent, it's easy to see why he'd be a chief candidate for either ambitious club.
This one's simple. When his time as Mexico's interim coach is over, he'll focus fully on Tigres UANL, where he's been since 2010.
Onice his replacement is hired, what will be the next stop for the USMNT's extended caretaker? It's long been assumed that Sarachan has little chance at turning his interim role into a permanent one, a la Bob Bradley in 2007, but he's drawn plenty of praise from inside the USA's youth-filled locker room. Would that convince those in charge at U.S. Soccer to keep him, albeit in a different role? Or would his connection to the failed World Cup qualifying effort outweigh the pros of his groundwork with the up-and-coming generation? The U-23 team that will look to qualify for the 2020 Olympics would need a leader.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Ramos is still coach of the U.S. Under-20 national team but is widely reported to want the full men's national team job. That he hasn't been hired yet, despite being a part of the federation this whole time, should be an indication that he's not a chief candidate, unless the powers that be are waiting until after U-20 World Cup qualifying in November. If they go another way, where does that leave him? Is he content at the youth level? Would he entertain being an assistant, should the incoming coach want his presence? Would he look to take on a club to gain the first-team experience he's criticized for lacking?
Porter took the year off and talked with the San Jose Earthquakes before the MLS side went and hired Almeyda. He's had his ups (winning 2015 MLS Cup with Portland) and his downs (failing to lead the U.S. U-23s to the 2012 Olympics), but is a strong-willed, talented and young (43) coach with plenty to offer. He's not just going to come back from a sabbatical for any job, though.
The FC Dallas manager shot down reports that he'd spoken to U.S. Soccer about the men's national team job, though he would certainly figure to tick off a lot of boxes for the position. He may well stay put in Dallas, where he has built a strong culture that, aside from last season, has won plenty in the regular season and claimed a U.S. Open Cup title. This postseason will be a big one for him and the narrative surrounding his side.
If the LA Galaxy job is to open, then Kinnear is going to have to make way. He's fared well in replacing Sigi Schmid and has the club on the cusp of a playoff berth. His pedigree is well known, and his resume needs no boosting in MLS circles, but he may not be the forward-thinking mind the Galaxy have envisioned for the role. But then again, was Schmid? Given the direction of the league, it'd be interesting to see where he winds up–if anywhere at all.
El Piojo has had his name batted around for a return to the Mexico national team, but he's remained at Club America nonetheless. If the FMF doesn't come calling again, would an MLS team take a swing at landing the mercurial, energetic and successful manager?
Vermes has been outspoken about U.S. Soccer and his love for what he's doing at Sporting Kansas City and doesn't appear to be a candidate for the national team job. He divulged that he had casual talks with reportedly outgoing U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn at the new national training center in Kansas City but none of the interview nature.