The U.S. men's national team coaching search had a curveball thrown its way, while Christian Pulisic's suitors are located both near and far.

By Grant Wahl
November 20, 2018

The long saga to name the U.S. men’s national team coach is almost over. Columbus Crew manager and sporting director Gregg Berhalter is still the odds-on favorite to become the next USMNT coach, with an announcement potentially coming by the end of next week. Meanwhile, a source with firsthand knowledge says that Julen Lopetegui, who coached Real Madrid and Spain this year, recently approached U.S. Soccer through an intermediary to express interest in the U.S. job.

U.S. Soccer, the source said, replied that it was too far down the line in its process to entertain the interest of Lopetegui, who was undefeated in 20 matches (14-0-6) across two years as the Spain coach. U.S. Soccer offered no comment when asked for a response.

Lopetegui was fired on the eve of the World Cup for having arranged his move to Real Madrid without properly communicating with the Spanish federation, and he was then subsequently fired from Real Madrid after just 14 matches, with a 5-1 loss to Barcelona in El Clasico the final blow.

Elsewhere in U.S. Soccer news:

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Bayern Munich eyes Pulisic

On Monday, Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said U.S. star Christian Pulisic would stay with the club for the remainder of this season, meaning he will not be sold in the January transfer window. SI.com can confirm reports that Chelsea has emerged as the top contender in England for Pulisic, but a source close to top Bayern Munich officials says that club also now has significant interest in buying Pulisic from Dortmund.

Bayern has a history of poaching Dortmund’s top players–Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze and Mats Hummels among them–and it also is looking for replacements for the aging Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben, even after adding Alphonso Davies from the Vancouver Whitecaps in a record outgoing transfer for an MLS player.

The Bavarian club has also made a big effort to build its brand in the U.S., and Pulisic would certainly help on that front. Keep in mind, too, that Chelsea may face a transfer ban starting next summer due to an investigation into its alleged purchase of underage players, which could rule the Blues out of any race for the 20-year-old Pennsylvania native.

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