U.S. Under-20 National Team

Rongen out as U.S. U-20 coach


Photo by Omar Martinez/ISIphotos.com

For Thomas Rongen, the failure to guide the United States Under-20 national team to World Cup qualification has cost him his job as head coach.

Rongen has been relieved of his head coaching duties for the U-20s, sources told SBI on Thursday. The U.S. Soccer Federation confirmed that while he is no longer coach of the team, Rongen is still under contract with U.S. Soccer and could still work with the federation in another capacity.

Rongen, who has drawn praise for his ability to locate and attract multi-national players with American eligibility, is ultimately the fall guy for the U-20s' inability to get through CONCACAF qualifying. The team lost to qualifying host Guatemala, 2-1, in last month's do-or-die regional quarterfinal with a group deemed by many to be the deepest, most talented U-20 team the country has ever had. The United States had qualified for the last seven U-20 World Cups and last missed out on the international event in 1995.

Rongen had been at the helm of the U-20s since 2001. Tab Ramos will guide the team on its upcoming trip to France, but he has not been named an interim coach. The USSF will conduct a search for Rongen's replacement.

What do you think about this development? Who do you think should be the next U.S. U-20 coach?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Felix

    Subotic was playing for us until Rongen’s stupid insensitive comments pushed him out.

    To me that was Rongen’s biggest error.


  • Primoone

    That was my line of reasoning jonk…however, wasn’t it Wilmer that was upset that Joe and Renkin departed from the U-17 because they chose to be developed by Hoffenhiem as opposed to Bradenton? As a result they were pretty much excommunicated from the U-17s? However, Gyau is clearly ahead of the curve in development with respect to tactical awareness, first touch and overall football IQ.

    Yeah, your right…we need more vindictive coaches in the USSF to discourage our young and talented players from going over-seas at a young age and developing an elite player.


  • Paul Lorinczi

    You are correct.

    He just published his vision for US Soccer. Quite interesting body of work that mimics Brazil more than Europe (Yay!)

    (Interesting, it compares to the Brazilian curriculum of Tadeo Gonsalves of Bfut in Boca Raton)

    It is available at US Soccer.

    If you are a coach, check it out. He is advocating a 4-4-2 with a diamond. The emphasis on offense and ball movement.


  • Nick

    I don’t think that was the situation with Gyau and Renken. Renken had two major knee injuries during that time and Gyau had a bit of an attitude problem when he was younger.


  • Oranje

    Hahaha so someone can hashtag #fail but I can’t point out how that person failed? Interesting moderation system you guys have going on.


  • MC Pharaoh

    its interesting because I know him personally, but I have never really thought he was the right man for that job. He didnt qualify the team for the next world cup, missed a player like subotic, & botched a few chances to win the u-20 world cup… he is an intelligent guy but hes had the job 10 years i believe. since he lost the job, he will probly be back to Florida soon & I will see him (;


  • soccerroo

    Why? What makes you think that one of them will do as good or a better job then Rongen? I thought maybe some like Oscar Pareja, He is FC Dallas Academy and reserve team coach. He worked with Wilmer Cabrera at the U-17 level. Or some one like that.


  • Josh D

    Disagree. The u-17 coach has been doing quite well and has them playing very nice soccer.

    But u20 and Bradley – agree.


  • Thorpinski

    It as eiter a week or two later that Subotic was invited to the NT and turned them down. I mean reallywhat more do you need to know about his motives.


  • Thorpinski

    lol… at least your post shows that it was removed by the moderator. My post was completely removed as if it was never posted,(as if the Navy Seal Team 6 were called into action to monitored my responses)


  • M

    Good, maybe now we can field teams that look homogeneous like Spain and Italy instead of low IQ African mercenaries


  • AJ

    I wasn’t suggesting a specific role as much as retaining him in an off the field role. I might have to check out Reyna’s report though, sounds interesting.


  • Buckwheat

    He was bad when he was the coach for DC United. The only reason DC went played well was because Dave Sarachan was still in charge of the training; and the carry over from when Arena was coach. When Sarachan left to follow Arena, the team stunk for several years.


  • Zoti

    Excellent idea. Finally we can have the perfect “homogeneous melting pot” team.


  • Juan from L.A.

    Who is the best assistant coach in MLS? Or up and coming guy…my vote would be for Curt Onalfo and/or Octavio Zambrano. Onalfo is younger but both are experienced, know American style of soccer and would be a good fit in the US program.

    In regards to Rongen I saw it coming. I emailed Sunil and luckily got an email back (which was surprising) and he said I’ll wait til the storm is settle to analyze and then act in such manner. Good way of thought. Wouldn’t mind if he stayed in some capacity to oversee the scouting talent program and aid both the U-20 and U-17 program in that manner only. But definitely the guy as a coach sucks.


  • Juan from L.A.

    Also I don’t see it for the calling of Porter. For God’s sake one good season in college soccer. Need I remind you guys that college soccer is overrated with the unlimited substitutions and timeouts. C’mon now, this job as U-20 should go to a proven coach in professional environment. Look up and I have put out names of assistants out there who can be given a call.


  • MensreaJim

    Am I somehow misreading this, or is this the craziest comment ever?


  • Hermano

    This is a horrible development. It’s a knee jerk reaction spurred on by the instant-gratification, fast food culture that pervades everything about US Soccer. Rongen was instrumental in identifying and cultivating talent that would’ve slipped through the cracks. Timothy Chandler – he’s Rongen’s guy. Abossomunde? Rongen. The list goes on and on…


  • Robinswood

    and it’s utterly unlikely that someone…. anyone might have a similar ability to identify and draw that same talent? Rongen didn’t do this alone, there was an entire team of scouts and administrators who are a part of this process. He’s served us well, mostly, but it’s definitely time for some new blood.


  • Hermano

    Klinsmann wouldn’t take the full USMNT job – how on earth is he going to be interested by the U20 position???


  • RangerSG

    Klinsmann didn’t take the full Nats because idiot Gulati wouldn’t give full control to the guy who would take the fall for the results.

    But no, his ego won’t let him go to the U-20. It’s full Nats, on his terms, or nothing.


  • jpc

    to be fair though, what do you know of his tactics? really? sometimes tactics loses you games, most times its talent and desire.


  • marco

    If you read his assessment of Subotic, and look at the players he said were better, you must question his ability to evaluate talent. When he imposes loyalty standards that exceed FIFA requirements, you must question his fairness.


  • bottlcaps

    Rongen was not a good match for a U-20 environment. Although he apparently has an outstanding ability to identify talent, and a somewhat good but limited tactical sense, he failed to match a players ability to sound strategic organization.

    The US thoroughly outplayed Guatamala, but failed to convert their opportunities, as there was insufficient attacking midfield support. More often than not the players made many mistakes in not waiting for support, but rather decided to take on players one-on-one. Rongen also must have decided to not let any defensive midfielders or backs come up in attack on any consistent basis.

    In short it was an inadequate strategy.

    He should have been gone years before, when the U-20’s were let out early in other WC endeavors.

    I would really like to see a foreign coach with no ties to the USSF or MLS take the reigns. They are out there but I doubt the Gulati & the USSF will look very Hard.

    Klinsmann was right on target when he refused to take the USMNT job without getting control of the youth infrastructure. Maybe now the USSF will dismiss Bradley and bring him in.


  • Skywalker1023

    Hermano, I think you just made the point most people are making. Rongen is an excellent scout of talent, and I fully agree he should be kept on in a similar capacity. It seems the US is taking the German way of thinking where they pressure their youth teams to win so they develop that winning attitude and adjust to the pressure prior to getting to the full mens team. Rongen was not getting results and the fact he had strong teams means its easier to change the coach than the team.


  • Matt C in Tampa

    A. Because they are American. B. Because they didn’t play like the traditional American…ie…running fast everywhere. C. they are not part of the establishment/re-treads. D. They’ve been there. E. Their games were based on skill, possession, calmness on the ball and attacking.


  • knolljus

    It seems that you don’t pay much attention to college soccer, the substitions are limited by the fact that you cannot re-enter the game in the same half. Caleb Porter has made Akron into a powerhouse, and has been there since 06 after studying under Jerry Yeagley at his alma mater. Look at the production that Houston is getting from Will Bruin, across the MLS there are a ton of young ex-college players that are making an early impact.


  • Goalscorer24

    Remember the quote from Gale Agbossoumonde on what Rognen had told them during U20 qualification. “The toughest team you will play will be our b team.”

    Just for that he should have been fired. You never underestimate the opponent!


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