U.S. Soccer not close to naming USMNT coach

Clubs

U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Matt Crocker said that his aim remains to have a new manager for the U.S. men’s national team in place by the end of summer, with interim coach Anthony Hudson set to remain in charge for this summer’s Concacaf Nations League finals and Gold Cup.

In a Q&A conducted by the USSF, Crocker said his two primary objectives have been to support the U.S. women’s national team ahead of this summer’s World Cup, and to begin the process of finding the next USMNT manager.

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In terms of the latter goal, Crocker indicated that the USSF is some ways away from making a hire.

“We think this decision is critical not only for the next three years but also for the legacy that this coach will leave on the future of the program,” he said about the hiring process.

“We intend to be thoughtful and thorough in our evaluation and our selection.”

Crocker said his plan is to conduct a series of interviews in June and narrow the list of candidates. From there, he and the USSF will conduct another round of interviews in the middle of July.

“Our aim is to have our new coach in place by the end of summer, although it’s possible that club circumstances could impact the timeline,” he said.

The timeline spelled out by Crocker indicates that the hire won’t be made before the Nations League or the Gold Cup. The final rounds of the Nations League will be held in mid-June, with the Gold Cup beginning shortly thereafter and ending with the final on July 16. That means Hudson will continue in his role as interim manager through the conclusion of the Gold Cup.

“I think Anthony Hudson, [assistant coach] B.J. Callaghan and the rest of the staff have done a fantastic job keeping the program moving forward,” Crocker said.

“There has been no drop in standard, and as you’ve seen several players who had a choice to represent more than one country have chosen the United States during their tenure and Anthony and his staff deserve tremendous credit for that. That speaks to the work they have done, and we are confident in their ability to lead this group in the tournaments this summer.”

The U.S. men have been without a manager since Gregg Berhalter’s contract was allowed to expire at the end of 2022 in the midst of an investigation into a domestic violence incident from 1992 that involved him and his now-wife Rosalind.

The incident was divulged to U.S. Soccer by Danielle Reyna, mother of USMNT forward Gio Reyna, in response to Berhalter’s comments at a leadership conference in which he referenced how an unnamed player — later identified as Gio Reyna — was nearly sent home from the tournament for reacting poorly to his lack of playing time in Qatar.

A subsequent investigation by U.S. Soccer found that Gregg and Rosalind Berhalter accurately portrayed the incident, and that Gregg Berhalter was free to be hired by the USSF. Federation president Cindy Parlow Cone said in January that Berhalter remains a candidate for the coaching position.

A U.S. Soccer spokesperson confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday that “nothing has changed” as it relates to Berhalter’s candidacy.

Crocker was appointed to his current position last month, though his official start date isn’t until Aug. 2. That said he has already begun engaging with staff, including recently appointed VP of sporting Oguchi Onyewu. He recently visited Chicago, where the USSF is headquartered, for the first time in a bid to get acclimated to the city and sort out living arrangements for him and his family.

On the women’s side, Crocker said he had spoken to USWNT general manager Kate Markgraf and manager Vlatko Andonovski, as well as players Lindsey Horan and Becky Sauerbrunn.

“I’m here to support their work in any way I can as they finalize their preparations for the camp in July before heading to Auckland to start the World Cup. Vlatko has some tough decisions on the final roster, and I know he and Kate are following all of the players in NWSL closely. We’ll continue to keep in touch as much as possible in the coming two months.”

In terms of the process for hiring the next men’s manager, Crocker said that with the approval of USSF president Cone and CEO JT Batson, there is a strategy in place that includes “having a diverse set of voices.” Crocker has also identified traits he thinks are necessary for the next manager — which were not disclosed in the Q&A — and has begun having initial conversations with candidates.

“What we have is a list of candidates who based on our initial research we think will fit the profile,” he said. “We already have had a number of conversations with some of the candidates. In some instances a candidate may hold a current position, in which case we must be very respectful to their clubs and always make sure any communication begins with them. Our next steps will be to conduct more thorough interviews and continue what we have outlined as a robust evaluation process.”

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