The 5 Best Options for USMNT Head Coach Ahead of the 2026 World Cup

Alex WindleyJanuary 25, 2023

The 5 Best Options for USMNT Head Coach Ahead of the 2026 World Cup

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    DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 03: Gregg Berhalter, Head Coach of United States, attends the post match press conference after the 1-3 loss during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at Khalifa International Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Patrick Smith - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
    Patrick Smith - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

    The United States men's national team is in transition.

    Coming off a 3-1 round of 16 loss to the Netherlands at the FIFA Men's World Cup, the Stars and Stripes are putting that result behind them and pivoting toward 2026.

    A new era also means that a coaching change should be imminent.

    Gregg Berhalter's tenure as manager had highs and lows, from the team winning the Gold Cup and Nations League in 2021 to his getting into a public controversy with the parents of Gio Reyna.

    No matter how one feels about Berhalter, it wouldn't be wise to have him continue under these circumstances.

    As the Americans begin their January slate of friendlies, here are five potential replacements for Berhalter ahead of the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Marcelo Bielsa

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    LEEDS, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Marcelo Bielsa the head coach / manager of Leeds United during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur at Elland Road on February 26, 2022 in Leeds, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
    Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

    Marcelo Bielsa is no stranger to being linked to the USMNT.

    "El Loco" would bring a refreshing change from the managerial style of Berhalter.

    His detailed and intense approach to coaching and overseeing every aspect of football would take the United States Soccer Federation to the next level.

    Bielsa is a possession-based, pressing type of manager; technically gifted players such as Reyna, Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah would thrive under his high-octane style.

    With Everton and reportedly Mexico showing interest, the USSF needs to act quickly if it wants his services.

    Should the U.S. appoint Bielsa as manager, it would show that the federation is serious about getting past the round of 16 at the World Cup for the first time since 2002.

Pellegrino Matarazzo

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    MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 10: head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo of VfB Stuttgart gestures prior to the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern München and VfB Stuttgart at Allianz Arena on September 10, 2022 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
    Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

    Pellegrino Matarazzo may not be well-known, but he could be an intriguing choice for the USMNT.

    Born in New Jersey to Italian parents, Matarazzo moved to Germany in 2000 to continue his playing career.

    He started coaching in 2011, serving as an assistant for FC Nürnberg's U23 team. In October, he was let go by VfB Stuttgart after nearly three years at the helm.

    Though it's a long shot Matarazzo will be hired, his brand of football would be fascinating with the U.S. player pool.

    The 43-year-old sets up his teams in a flexible 3-5-2, and they play attractive, high-tempo soccer.

    With Antonee Robinson and Sergiño Dest available as potential attacking wing-backs, switching to a fluid back three could let the U.S. play a quicker style compared to the possession-based buildup seen under Berhalter.

Jesse Marsch

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 13: Jesse Marsch, Manager of Leeds United applauds the fans after the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Leeds United at Villa Park on January 13, 2023 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Jesse Marsch feels like the natural successor to Berhalter.

    Though he's contracted to Leeds United until 2025, managing in the Premier League can be fickle, and a bad run of form could see him out sooner rather than later.

    CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ @CBSSportsGolazo

    Leeds United have not won a Premier League match since November 5, 2022. 😬<br><br>They sit in 15th place, one point above the relegation zone after their third draw in four matches. Is Jesse Marsch on the hot seat as manager? 🤔 <a href=""></a>

    If he gets sacked, it will open the chance for him to become the USMNT manager.

    Marsch is a disciple of the Red Bull academy of coaches. Like other managers on this list, he implements a counter-pressing, high-intensity style that requires stamina and tactical awareness.

    The USMNT has the personnel to thrive in this system. Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, Weston McKennie and many other players have the technical and physical ability to play the type of football required.

    With Marsch, it feels like it's a matter of when and not if he will get the job.

Jim Curtin

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    FOXBOROUGH, MA - MAY 28: Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin  before a match between the New England Revolution and the Philadelphia Union on May 28, 2022, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Jim Curtin is one of the best managers in MLS.

    Under his guidance, the Philadelphia Union have put together an impressive run, winning a Supporters' Shield and making three trips to the U.S. Open Cup final and one MLS Cup final appearance.

    PhilaUnion @PhilaUnion

    TWO <a href="">@MLS</a> CUP GOALS FOR JACK ELLIOTT!<a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LAFCvPHI</a> 3-3 | <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DOOP</a> <a href=""></a>

    The Union play an expansive brand of soccer.

    Curtin has them well-drilled defensively, and they are clinical on the offensive end. With this style, Philadelphia conceded the fewest goals and scored the most in MLS in 2022.

    The 43-year-old, however, is amid contract renegotiations and may not want to move on quite yet.

José Mourinho

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    REGGIO NELL'EMILIA, ITALY - NOVEMBER 09: Jose Mourinho, Manager of AS Roma looks on during the Serie A match between US Sassuolo and AS Roma at Mapei Stadium - Citta' del Tricolore on November 09, 2022 in Reggio nell'Emilia, Italy. (Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Ciancaphoto Studio/Getty Images)
    Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Ciancaphoto Studio/Getty Images

    José Mourinho would be a standout acquisition for the USSF.

    The federation has shown in the past that it is willing to contact world-class managers with the hopes of hiring them, and Mourinho should be no different.

    Not only has he won trophies in every league he's coached in, but the 59-year-old also has the innate ability to instill a winning mentality in any squad he's given.

    He has mentioned how much he admires several players on the USMNT as well.


    Jose Mourinho says the USMNT has the players to have a 'very interesting national team' 👀 <a href=""></a>

    If there is any possibility that Mourinho is available, the USSF needs to seriously think about appointing him as head coach.

    Tactically, he would have the USMNT play tough and strong. And—unlike Berhalter—he would put his best players in positions to succeed.

    His experience, tactical acumen and news conference shenanigans should push him to the top of the list.