EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — When asked whether he still expects to be the U.S. Men’s National Team coach for the team’s November friendlies in Europe, Dave Sarachan made it clear that, at present, he has no reason to believe otherwise.
If Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Peru does wind up being Sarachan’s final match as USMNT coach, his stint as caretaker coach will likely be remembered for beginning to establish the next generation of players.
U.S. Soccer general manager Earnie Stewart has said he hopes to have selected the next USMNT head coach by Nov. 1, and it seems a foregone conclusion that it will not be Sarachan who is appointed.
Nonetheless, Sarachan thinks he will be at the helm of the USMNT’s final two friendlies of the year, against England and Italy in a month’s time.
“Yeah. Until they tell me I’m not, I’m full bore man,” said Sarachan when asked if he expects to still be in charge in November. “Keep going. This is too much fun.”
A plausible scenario that could keep Sarachan in charge a little while longer is U.S. Soccer hiring its next permanent head coach next month but not having that person run the November camp. After all, planning for that camp, including selecting a roster, has to begin well before the first match against England on Nov. 15.
The federation could, however, begin the process of making the change in the next couple of weeks. If it does, Sarachan’s tenure as U.S. boss would end with a 3-3-4 record that includes a win over Mexico, tie with France, and a loss to Ireland.
More important than the results, Sarachan will have begun the transition of moving away from the old guard that painfully failed to reach the 2018 World Cup and into the promising but very green next generation of players. Sarachan went almost exclusively with up-and-coming youngsters like Tim Weah, Zack Steffen, and Matt Miazga since his first match in charge last November, and a foundation has been laid for the future that the next head coach could very well tap into.
“I think each set of games over the past 10 months, we’ve progressed from one set of games to the next,” said Sarachan. “We’ve established an identity of competing, playing aggressively, coming together, understanding each other, building a camaraderie on the field and off the field.
“I think the progress from camp to camp and games to games is moving in the right direction and I feel that there’s a real good hope with a lot of these young guys and with this group.”
While Sarachan did do a good job of looking at plenty of new faces during the past year, there is a wide belief from fans and media that he was limited tactically. Sarachan did not seem to have a detailed plan for how the U.S. should attack to break down opposing teams, as evidenced by the fact that eight of his 10 games as coach ended with the Americans scoring one goal or less.
“I think the U.S. definitely still needs an identity of how we want to play,” said teenage forward Josh Sargent when asked what the U.S. can get better at.
Still, Sarachan was not brought in to do a thorough revamp of the entire program. That will be the job of the permanent manager that should be named in the coming weeks.
Sarachan’s job was to start building towards the future, and he looks to have done that that even if the results, performances, and tactics were not always overwhelmingly positive or convincing.
“I think as an interim, it’s always a tricky position,” said midfielder Wil Trapp. “In many respects, he could have mailed it in and he never did that. From the first game in Portugal last year to tonight, he’s always put out a lineup that he’s confident in and he’s always given the group a plan.
“I can’t say enough good things about how he’s approached this situation and the way he’s brought this group along.”