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A comprehensive list of coaches the USMNT could target

It’s anyone’s guess what Sunil Gulati and his colleagues are thinking, so let’s take a look at anyone who might be on the radar.

Germany U20 v USA U20 - International Match Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images

Bruce Arena was hired as a stopgap to turn the United States around after the struggles of Jürgen Klinsmann. He was always going to struggle to earn a contract renewal without a spectacular World Cup run, and will now almost certainly find himself out of a job after failing to qualify for the World Cup entirely.

UPDATE: Arena has now resigned as the USMNT coach.

Despite Sunil Gulati’s statement that he won’t blow up the system, he is going to have to conduct a coaching search. He might already have a preferred candidate in mind, but following the debacle that was the Hex, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on him to broaden his horizons and cast his net as far and wide as possible.

For that reason, here is a list of all types of potential USMNT coaching candidates, grouped according to how likely they are to be considered and how likely they are to get the job.

The top candidates

These are the coaches that we expect U.S. Soccer to have near the top of their list for potential replacements. They may not be your favorites, but they’ll be discussed a lot in the coming weeks.

Tab Ramos — United States men’s Under-20

Ramos debuted for the USMNT in 1988 and has been a fixture in American soccer ever since. He was hired to manage the Under-20 men’s national team in 2011 and recently signed a new contract to continue in his jobs as U-20 coach and youth technical director, so he’s clearly valued by U.S. Soccer. Thanks to his successes with the U-20s, guiding them to the knockout stages of the last two Under-20 World Cups, Stars and Stripes FC speculated he might be in line to replace Arena before Tuesday’s disaster.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup Final-New York Red Bulls at Sporting KC Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Peter Vermes — Sporting Kansas City

Another former USMNT player, Vermes has been in charge of Sporting Kansas City since 2009. He’s won MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup with the team and Americans like Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber, and Dom Dwyer have improved under Vermes. He’s a popular pick for having an established style of play — a 4-3-3 formation with high pressure and a lot of possession. Sporting KC ranks No. 1 in MLS in average possession and passing percentage this season, and is regularly near the top of those lists.

Caleb Porter — Portland Timbers

Porter is also noted for having his teams keep possession with the ball on the ground, though his Timbers have usually done so in a 4-2-3-1 formation that functions a bit differently from Vermes’, with a true No. 10 in an advanced playmaking role and without a dedicated true defensive midfielder. Porter won a national title at Akron and regularly made deep runs in the College Cup with a style dubbed “death by 1,000 passes.” He carried that to his current job with the Timbers, where he’s won an MLS Cup. Notably, Porter also oversaw the USMNT Under-23’s disastrous failed 2012 Olympics qualifying campaign.

The dream hires

If the USMNT hires any of these coaches, it’s an incredible coup. They are unlikely to hire any of these coaches.

Huddersfield Town v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

David Wagner — Huddersfield

The German-American former USMNT player got his start working under Jürgen Klopp, then took his high-octane, counter-pressing methods to Huddersfield, whom he guided to Premier League promotion. Huddersfield looks capable of staying up and Wagner has been linked to Bundesliga jobs, so this isn’t happening. He has better job prospects.

Luis Enrique — Unattached

Following a mostly successful stint with Barcelona, Enrique is waiting for the perfect opportunity. The USMNT might be that if he’s looking for a change of pace and less stress. But if he wants a big European job, he’ll get one pretty soon. This is a complete pipe dream with no basis in reality.

Thomas Tuchel — Unattached

I could copy-paste all of the above, but just swap out Barcelona for Borussia Dortmund.

Gerardo Martino — Atlanta United

The Argentine manager has an expansion Atlanta side playing prettier soccer than anyone thought an MLS team was capable of. Martino’s stints with Argentina and Barcelona weren’t great, but they weren’t disastrous either. And he worked miracles before that, with both Paraguay and Newell’s Old Boys. He’d be a great hire, but Atlanta’s got deep pockets, and there’s no indication he’s looking to leave his current gig.

Sure, why not?

These managers shouldn’t be at the top of U.S. Soccer’s list, but don’t get upset if they get hired. They’ve all done good things and would be deserving of a bigger job.

MLS: FC Dallas at Minnesota United FC Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Oscar Pareja — FC Dallas

Once among the favorites for the USMNT job, his stock has dropped considerably as FC Dallas has slid down the standings in MLS. But he’s still overseen the integration of young American talent into a pro side successfully, won a Shield-Cup double in 2016, and worked miracles with a Colorado Rapids team that didn’t have much talent. He can’t be written off because of one bad year.

Greg Vanney — Toronto FC

Sure, he has the most talented roster in MLS helping him out, but Vanney still deserves credit for doing what no Toronto FC coach before him could do. Not only did he make the playoffs, but he won two playoff series last season, too. This season, TFC is running away with the Supporters’ Shield. And the cherry on top — Vanney’s preferred 3-5-2 formation suits the USMNT’s player pool well.

Jesse Marsch — New York Red Bulls

Despite ownership not spending like they did for his predecessors and his sporting directors making some questionable moves, Marsch has kept the Red Bulls playing consistently good soccer, winning the Shield in 2015 and guiding them to another first-place finish in the East last season. He’s shown some tactical flexibility, setting up his team successfully in 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 variants.

Patrick Vieira — New York City FC

It seems more likely that Vieira’s next move is to Europe rather than the USMNT, but he’s had NYCFC playing excellent soccer over the last two seasons. His team plays a very aggressive high-pressure style and puts together the most spectacular highlight plays of anyone in MLS. Unfortunately, NYCFC gets a bit too aggressive at times and gives up silly goals, too.

Out there, but good ideas

No one expects these coaches to be real candidates, but they’d make for great hires.

Mexico v El Salvador: Group C - 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Miguel Herrera — Club America

Herrera, the former Mexico manager who engineered a turnaround after El Tri’s disastrous 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, has repeatedly stated that he’s open to an offer from U.S. Soccer. He’s gotten results consistently with Mexico, America, and Tijuana. His up-tempo, attacking back-three setups both suit the player pool well and would be entertaining. U.S. Soccer should call him.

Carlo Ancelotti — Unattached

An expensive safe hire, if he’s interested. Ancelotti just got fired by Bayern Munich because his players found his training methods to be too simple post-Guardiola, but that’s fine at the international level. Tactics have to be kept simple when players don’t train together every day. Ancelotti is one of the best in-game tacticians in the sport and would instantly make the USMNT better. But he might not be the slightest bit interested.

Out there, and bad ideas

These names get brought up a lot, but should not be considered.

Atalanta BC v LOSC Lille - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Marcelo Bielsa — Lille

Salts the earth everywhere he goes. Ruins careers. One of the game’s most brilliant theorists, but in practice, he’s been very bad for the last three teams that hired him.

Louis van Gaal — Unattached

His stars dragged him to results with the Netherlands. His Man United teams were unwatchable. He did a bad job at Bayern, too. Avoid at all costs.

Guus Hiddink — Unattached

Last successful permanent job was Australia over 10 years ago.

Roberto Martinez — Belgium

Sounds very smart on television. In practice, he makes strange player selections and his teams leak like a sieve defensively.

Arsene Wenger — Arsenal

He’s a bad coach.

These are names we are contractually obligated to list

Sigi Schmid — LA Galaxy

Jason Kreis — Orlando City

Gregg Berhalter — Columbus Crew

Bob Bradley — Los Angeles FC

These are names that always get mentioned. But if any of these men get the call, either a half-dozen candidates have rejected U.S. Soccer or something is horribly wrong with the decision-makers at Soccer Towers.