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7 better choices than Gregg Berhalter for USMNT manager

Thursday 15th November 2018

It's coming up on 400 days since Bruce Arena resigned as the United States Men's National Team manager. U21 boss Dave Sarachan minds the store in the interim. This international break features field trips to Wembley for Wayne Rooney's Three Lions testimonial and Genk, Belgium, to face Italy. Back home, the USSF is understood to be poised to hire his permanent replacement. 

Following Arena's abdication, the federation took its time beginning a managerial search. First, they held elections for a new president. Outgoing boss Sunil Gulati's second, Carlos Cordeiro, won. Not what you would call a shocker from the insular, business-oriented federation. Cordeiro announced a general manager would be appointed to oversee the team and choose its coach since the executives within the USSF could no longer paper over their football naivete. Former USMNT standout Earnie Stewart was hired. Then crickets. 

Noises were made about a diligent, thorough search but no confirmations or denial of interest in various available candidates was forthcoming. We already know the most qualified person for the job was blatantly ignored. 

At long last, Columbus Crew boss Gregg Berhalter was named as the "clear frontrunner." The question is why?

Berhalter has made the MLS playoffs in four of his six seasons in Ohio. In each, at least nine other managers joined him. So, nothing special. For his entire MLS managerial career and during his two seasons with Swedish club Hammarby, Berhalter won exactly zero trophies. Columbus hosted the MLS Cup Final in 2015 but lost to Portland Timbers. He has no international experience. 

The former defender's most impressive feat might be making the playoffs this season. The Crew risked distraction and dissent within the ranks due to their owner's rigorous attempt to move the franchise to Austin, Texas. A consistently competitive side wasn't easy to conjure in that environment. Doing so proved Berhalter can communicate with his players but also that he's a reliable company man.

That shouldn't be enough to make a candidate the "clear frontrunner" to ramrod the national side. Along with solid man-management skills, such a boss must display tactical nous, competitive fire and at least a partially filled trophy cabinet. The understated Berhalter offers none of those attributes. Here are seven alternatives who a] do and b] Earnie Stewart should have pursued.

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Martin Palazzotto

The former editor of World Football Columns, Martin authored the short story collection strange bOUnce. He appeared in several other blogs which no longer exist. Old, he likes to bring out defunct. If outdated sport and pop-cultural references intrude on his meanderings for It's Round and It's White, don't be alarmed. He's harmless.

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