Mourinho - and other crazy suggestions - for USMNT's next coach


Mourinho - and other crazy suggestions - for USMNT's next coach

The American soccer community is a divided one. But whatever your opinion on Jurgen Klinsmann, he won’t be U.S. Soccer’s head coach forever. The national team’s next leader will receive more media coverage and heavier fan scrutiny than any of their predecessors. Basically, not only does Klinsmann’s theoretical successor have to be good, but they also have to be interesting.

And with that in mind, here’s a list of fun - and totally improbable - names to be U.S. Soccer’s next leading man (or woman):

1 - Jose Mourinho

With his underperforming Chelsea side just one point away from the Premier League’s relegation zone, Mourinho was relieved of his duties Thursday morning. 

Meanwhile, the 'Special One’ has recently acknowledged following the American game, and says he knows both Klinsmann & Bob Bradley "very, very well." 

Mourinho’s tactical acumen and track record of tangible results would likely help get the most out of the current U.S. team, but his impact could go far beyond on-field performance. Between his goal celebrations, sideline antics and general willingness to put hands on other managers, Mourinho would be a huge hit with American media. He gets attention, U.S. Soccer gets attention. 

While Mourinho’s words will get lots of ink, they’ll also create drama. He’s actually described the U.S. team as "obviously not [having] incredible talent" — but in the end, that statement is exactly why he’s a natural fit. In the last twenty years, Mourinho is the only coach to guide a club from beyond Europe’s ‘Big 4 leagues' to a Champions League title. Is asking a World Cup semifinal for the U.S. THAT much different than taking Porto to a Champions League final?

2 - Landon Donovan

He’s the biggest name in American soccer, and Donovan’s recent TV work with both ESPN and Fox should have him well-trained to make the most of that name with the press. He claims "it’s TBD" on a future in coaching, but it seems like the itch is there.

Already this year, Donovan coached the domestic entry at this summer’s MLS Chipotle Homegrown game, and traveled with the U.S. Under-20 team this year. Playing stints under Bruce Arena, Bob Bradley, Frank Yallop and David Moyes have exposed him to some great managerial minds.

While there’s no track record to go on, it’s hard to imagine a Donovan-led team that didn’t prioritize attacking soccer. Plus, LD will still be in his 30’s for the next two World Cup qualifying campaigns, so a player-manager clause might be worth drawing up if scoring REALLY becomes an issue.

3 - Arsene Wenger

Committed to attractive soccer, Wenger — and his dynamic Arsenal team — already has a large American following. The Frenchman is a favorite target of European media, so U.S. Soccer would get way more international coverage than ever before.

There’s also a narrative - one which the current national team hasn’t done much to dispel - that America doesn’t produce enough technical, attacking players. I think that narrative is a flawed one, and imagine guys like Benny Feilhaber, Lee Nguyen and Ethan Finley getting plenty of opportunities under Wenger. 

Not nearly as inflammatory as Mourinho, Wenger is still far from boring. He can come across a bit whiny, but Wenger’s often defiant tone with the English press speaks to a confidence — in himself and his methods — that U.S. Soccer might stand to benefit from.

4 - Diego Maradona

The last time Maradona qualified a team for the World Cup, he announced that his critics could "S**k it and keep on s***ing it" at the postgame press conference. For that reason alone, nightly sports shows probably won’t take Maradona’s media availabilities live — but they’ll definitely be paying attention.

On a more serious note, Maradona’s impact on recruiting could be huge. Anybody who watched the U.S. team at the recent Under-17 World Cup, noticed that half the squad had Hispanic surnames. Countries like Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala will eventually look to pull some of those kids back into their programs, but having Maradona — who is beloved most everywhere from Brownsville to Buenos Aires — might help keep that talent in red, white and blue.

Truthfully, Maradona is a terrible manager. His most successful club gig (Al-Wasl F.C. in United Arab Emirates) ended with a fight in the stands and a winning percentage around 30 percent. American sports fans do love a good train wreck though, and 'El Pibe de Oro’ is supremely qualified in that area. 

5 - Jill Ellis

We may well have a female president in 2016, so putting a woman in charge of the Men’s National Team is no big deal. More important than her gender, no other name on this list has coached a team to a World Cup title — as Ellis did in 2015.

Ellis’ management of the U.S. Women at this summer’s World Cup was nothing short of spectacular. She coached around critical suspensions early in the knockout phase and had her team beyond prepared for make-or-break matches with Germany and Japan. Ellis also expertly navigated Abby Wambach’s move from starting lineup to bench without unsettling the rest of the squad.

In the current set-up, Jurgen Klinsmann oversees all facets of the U.S. program and while it's unlikely his successor would be given that kind of power, Ellis actually has ideal experience for just such a role. She’s taken charge of a variety of youth national teams, understands the college game, and - in addition to her current duties as USWNT Head Coach - also serves as USSF Development Director.

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

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Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

The Washington Spirit, one of nine teams in the National Women's Soccer League, will pay a visit to Audi Field later this summer.

The game versus the Portland Thorns FC is scheduled for August 25 at 8 pm. Tickets can be purchased online via Ticketmaster and start at $31, but will also be available at the door. 

If you're looking for where to watch the Spirit take on the Thorns from the comfort of your own couch, the game will be broadcast on ESPNews starting at 7:38 pm. Dalen Cuff is set to host the pregame show, with USA Women's National Team alumnus Aly Wagner commentating alongside Jenn Hildreth, in her second season of NWSL coverage.

Considering the recent addition of the legendary Wayne Rooney and their move to the new facility, DC United has a lot to celebrate.

Audi Field, which opened in Washington D.C.'s Buzzard Point on July 9, seats 20,000 spectators. For DC United, who previously played at RFK Stadium, the capacity is a step down from the almost 46,000 seats at RFK. But for the Spirit, who call Germantown's Maryland Soccerplex their home, the audience will hopefully far outnumber the Plex's usual 3,000 to 4,000 spectators.

The Spirit have struggled this season, with an unusually high amound of draws and more losses than wins. Though fan favorite and star forward Mallory Pugh is still sidelined with a PCL sprain, the team hopes to improve their ability to close one-goal deficits and gain a sustained offensive advantage. 

Aside from the Audi Field game, the Spirit will host two more home games this season. Utah Royals FC will visit the Soccerplex on Wednesday, August 22, and Sky Blue FC will close out the Spirit's home season on Saturday, September 1. Tickets for either game at their usual field can be purchased through the Washington Spirit's website or upon entry. 

If you haven't paid attention to women's soccer since the USWNT's 2015 World Cup victory, no worries. There's no better time than the present to support women's pro sports. Regardless of the end result, Portland vs. Washington will be a great match-up to watch, and the event has already made DC sports history.


Wayne Rooney stuns D.C. soccer fans with surprise appearance during World Cup viewing

Wayne Rooney stuns D.C. soccer fans with surprise appearance during World Cup viewing

Washington Dulles International Airport was flooded by soccer fans alike Thursday afternoon awaiting the arrival of one specific person inside the international arrivals terminal: England's all-time goalscorer Wayne Rooney. 

Over 100 fans packed the halls as the 32-year-old made his way out of the airport while posing for pictures and signing autographs. 

Rooney penned a two-and-a-half year guaranteed contract worth about $13 million, which makes him the highest-paid player in D.C. United history. 

He officially becomes available to play for the club beginning July 10, after the transfer window opens. This means his first game could potentially be against Vancouver inside the brand new Audi Field July 10. 

After greeting fans at the airport, Rooney and his camp piled into two blacks SUVs en route to Northeast D.C. 

Little did World Cup fans taking in the England-Belgium match at Wunder Garten know that they were about to be surprised by Wayne Rooney himself. 

In an appearance that lasted just over seven minutes and included a slew of selfies, short conversations and one television interview, Rooney's presence dazzled fans and left others stunned. 

One England native who is now a D.C. resident told me: "We grew up watching him (Rooney) score in the World Cup and that was really important to us. It's hard to believe he just walked through here."

As you would imagine, management at Wunder Garten was thrilled, too.  

"It was great for us because it put us on the map. For someone as famous as Wayne Rooney to come through our establishment, shake hands and hang out, that means a lot. We loved having him here and would love to have him back," said Michael Keller, a member of the bar's management staff. 

 The Englishman will have his hands full as he attempts to put D.C. United back on the map this season. 

Follow Rooney on Twitter and Instagram @WayneRooney.