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Who are the key contenders for USMNT job?

Toronto FC v Columbus Crew SC - Eastern Conference Finals - Leg 1

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 21: Head Coach Gregg Berhalter of the Columbus Crew SC watches as his players take on the Toronto FC during the match at MAPFRE Stadium on November 21, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus tied Toronto 0-0. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

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Fresh from the news that USMNT GM Earnie Stewart has begun interviewing candidates for the vacant managerial position, plenty of names are being thrown around regarding the favorite to land the gig.

Gregg Berhalter seems to be the overwhelming favorite to become the next permanent manager of the U.S. men’s national team, with the current Columbus Crew coach working wonders in Ohio in tough circumstances over the past few years.

He reportedly gave a “no comment” response when asked if he has been interviewed by his former USMNT teammate Stewart but with the Crew’s potential relocation to Austin, Texas, Berhalter has a natural break in his current job which could suit the USMNT. However, the LA Galaxy not having a current permanent head coach could suggest that Berhalter may head back to his former team. He is a man in demand.

Who are the other main contenders?

It appears the decision has been delayed until now (much to the annoyance of most USMNT fans) due to many MLS coaches being under consideration, with Peter Vermes, Greg Vanney and Gerardo Martino all said to be candidates.

Current interim head coach Dave Sarachan, who has held that role since last October when Bruce Arena resigned, will also be among the contenders but it is likely he will take up a coaching role within U.S. Soccer rather than the main gig.

Another contender is Jesse Marsch who took a slightly bizarre decision to leave the New York Red Bulls earlier this season and head to their sister club, RB Leipzig, in the Bundesliga to become an assistant coach for the 2018-19 campaign. Marsch, like Berhalter, worked miracles with the Red Bulls and his ability to nurture young U.S. talent will no doubt have him high on this list of candidates.

Both Berhalter and Marsch are former USMNT stars and know the program inside out, with Marsch Bob Bradley’s assistant coach in the past. And for fellow former USMNT players Vermes and Vanney, well, they both have plumb jobs with two of MLS’ most successful franchises in recent years. Despite TFC’s downturn in 2018, Vanney still seems to be in a safe position for now. As for Tata Martino, his lack of English suggests he will not be in the running even though his time at Atlanta United is reportedly coming to an end.

There is also a list of what we call “fantasy appointments” with Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and David Moyes all included. The latter has been seen at recent USMNT games but the last thing the U.S. need right now is to hire a coach who is detached from the American game and will take 6-12 months to get to know the playing squad. They’ve stood still for too long in this search and a coach from within the domestic game would be the smart move.

Former Portland Timbers boss Caleb Porter and current U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos are also said to be among the more serious contenders, but when it comes to where the USMNT want to be in the future it appears two coaches stand out above the rest.

Berhalter and Marsch.

Both have turned their MLS clubs into hard-working, successful units where young U.S. players have been nurtured and turned into international caliber players. Both are passionate about the American game and both are in situations where they’d be able to head to the USMNT job quickly, which is needed after 12 months of stagnation.

Stewart is cracking on with his job to find a USMNT coach who will give young players a chance and give this team a much-needed identity in the coming months and years as they build towards qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. The U.S. must cast the net far and wide but Berhalter and Marsch are the most viable options if the USMNT’s talented youngsters are to reach their full potential.

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