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Stewart, Cordeiro defend lengthy USMNT coaching search

It certainly took a long, long time for U.S. Soccer to search for its new Men’s National Team head coach. Well, they finally have their man in Gregg Berhalter more than a year after Bruce Arena stepped down following the World Cup qualifying failure.

The length of the search has been a main target of criticism from fans and media alike. Many wondered why the USMNT had to spend such a vast amount of time under an interim boss and whether or not the lack of a permanent coach was beginning to affect the long term future of the team.

General manager Earnie Stewart and U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro didn’t wait long to defend their patience in Tuesday’s press conference introducing Berhalter. Both men got right to that in their opening statements.

“Earnie started work on August 1st, just over three months ago. He hit the ground running and over the three months that he was there, that he’s been with us, he’s led a very clear, thorough, professional search,” Cordeiro said. “In fact, with Earnie looking at an initial field of more than 30 candidates, it’s probably been the most inclusive and comprehensive search for a coach in our history.”

Stewart, too, went into some detail to defend the length of the search and talked about how thorough that process actually was. He did his homework, for the most part, as he narrowed down that vast initial field to Berhalter when all was said and done.

“The way I went about my business was to make sure that we set the profile of what a head coach would look like,” he said. “Style of play was important because when I sat with candidates and was able to sit down with Gregg it explains kind of like where we’re going and what we’re trying to do.”

Once he established a profile on what sort of guy he was looking for, he set out to finding candidates. Stewart originally had a shortlist of 33 names from around the world as possibilities. He and his committee were able to narrow that down to 11 candidates. After another broad sweep of the established requirements, that field was further narrowed to five names, but three of those stood out from the rest.

“I felt very comfortable going forward and having the big conversations about the technical aspects of the U.S. Men’s National Team and what it is to be head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team and try to find even more about those candidates.”

Stewart didn’t name any names, but he did mention one of his finalists not being available due to taking another job opportunity. Stewart, along with Cordeiro and CEO Dan Flynn, proceeded to meet with both remaining candidates. After what Stewart called a “short period of time,” he officially recommended Berhalter and the choice was unanimously approved by the U.S. Soccer board.

Although, he looked far and wide for the right head coach, Stewart and his team didn’t personally speak to every one of those original ideas. He instead resorted to the eye test for many of them, simply eliminating them based on how they coached in their current jobs.

“I’d like to say there’s a lot of coaches that I spoke to,” he said, “I’d say within MLS, there were also some international candidates, two candidates from Holland, that I did not necessarily need to speak with. Because you see them on the playground every single day. You see what they’re doing with their team, you see how they’re trying to implement their style of play. I didn’t feel it was necessary in the first part to get a score on that.”

There were still some key details left out. Stewart didn’t explain how long anything actually took from the moment he got hired in August. Cordeiro did put emphasis that the board only approved the decision this past Saturday, but the federation likely had to wait until the Columbus Crew finished their season to truly open up negotiations with Berhalter. No details were shared about when he was actually chosen.

Regardless of the length of his search, Stewart certainly convinced Cordeiro and the rest of U.S. Soccer leadership that Berhalter was the right man to lead the USMNT into the future.

“Gregg isn’t just the right choice, Gregg is the best choice,” Cordeiro said to conclude his opening statement. “He will push our Men’s Team forward and with an identity and approach that will be uniquely and fiercely American.”

Comments

  1. Hearing the echo chamber that is our fan base piss and moan about the “process” and “transparency” is disappointing. What a bunch of weenies. We’ve got a coach. We didn’t need a coach before now — in fact, we have a coach before our main rivals do. There are years to implement whatever he wants to implement. There are several reasons this hire wasn’t made earlier. The tone of our fan base is one of a whining, entitled, and delusional.

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    • Nice try, your intentions are too obvious that the only shocking thing is that you did not put as your title. “SUM/MLS/USSF” members only.

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    • I think we shouldn’t be looking toward Mexico as a benchmark for a Federation and how it handles it NATs coaching situation. They can also afford to be a dysfunctional mess because they are clearly the best and most talented team in Concacaf and will have no trouble qualifying. Image that! And also, I don’t actually care that much about transparency if I thought these people were highly competent and had a track record of success. We all have good reason not to trust such an insular group of lackeys and lightweights. Therefore, transparency matters more.

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    • “We didn’t need a coach before now — in fact, we have a coach before our main rivals do.”

      Funny old thing is our rivals went to the World Cup. I’d say the circumstances and degree of need/crisis isn’t exactly comparable.

      It’s not just the fans. Former players, other coaches, pundits, journalists, and pretty much everyone else with half a brain has commented that the process and time spent have been less than optimal. It’s not entitlement to not want to waste an entire year after the worst qualification campaign in most of our lifetimes.

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      • This year was wasted when we failed to qualify for the World Cup. There was nothing, outside of giving young players experience, that could have made this year meaningful. The fan base has gone mad and lost all perspective…

  2. It took over 4 months not 3, nitpicking because who was the panel of people USSF used besides Cordeiro, Ernie and Dan Flynn to search for our coach? So much for transparency. I am not against Berhalter but damn it let’s act like professionals and as well you owe the public who supports the USMNT with time and money. This would never have flown in a serious soccer/futbol nation. The powers that be operate without much scrutiny even though more media like Twellman point out the issues like timing and rightfully so. It’s called accountability something most of our leaders seem to lack. Hope this works out

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    • I noticed the time span too but one wonders if it was a Freudian slip of sorts. Was this in fact decided c. Nov. 1 and then they sat on it while MLS finished and the friendlies were played, in order to start fresh next year. Essentially favored aesthetics of timing — the ability to draw a line under the year and excuse it — over getting to work on the team an international date sooner.

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  3. I have serious concerns with Stewart and Cordiero using “style of play” as a key factor. Do we trust them to determine the US’s best style of play? I’d rather an experienced coach do that based off the player pool and realistic expectations given the competition. What have Stewart and Cordiero accomplished? Seriously. Stewart has some lightweight executive roles but unclear how successful and meaningful they were. And while I wish Berhalter the best, his experience and achievements are limited. And yes, Columbus might play a nice style for the MLS, but does the NATs team have an Higuain? No.

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  4. I get the sense that USSF really wanted a manager that would do 4-5 things: Would have a clear plan for each match with actionable expectations on how the team was going to play (range of movement, how they’d break down lines, how they’d defend, speed of passing, etc.) down to all 11 players on the pitch. Would be able to cultivate some of the young talent and give them real structure and team identity going forward that created a healthy locker room culture around the squad. Would have a foot both in MLS and leagues abroad. Would be essential to establishing the link between youth squads that play incredibly but don’t produce playing pros once they age out of the program.

    I don’t like how this process was handled, and it’s clear that they only interviewed 2 people because Gregg was the top choice all along – that’s all fine – but man, losing out on 14 months of potential development of chemistry and implementation of the coach’s agenda is what makes this hire so frustrating. It’s maddening that it took so long to get a guy they could have nabbed months after Arena was sacked.

    I’m hopeful Gregg will succeed, and maybe he is the best man for the job, but the Federation will be in hot water if things don’t turn around quickly.

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  5. I think they confused “checks boxes” with “excels in those areas.” A mediocre coach could check boxes of english speaking, experienced, etc., without being excellent in any area. When I was on a scholarship committee, we didn’t just do a checklist, you scored the candidates 1-10 on a list of areas. That way some sort of relative value for the checkboxes is made. You wonder on someone like Martino if his ok english gets him a 5 as opposed to they play some on-off switch game and literally toss his application in the trash.

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  6. Berhalter was hired 4 mos. 1 day after Stewart took his job, not 3 months. And that’s leaving aside “14 months,” the overall elapsed time. If you’re not transparent about who was considered then it’s just numbers to claim you were busy.

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  7. i have now watched the q&a portion after the speeches.
    ~
    ives galarcep and franco panizo were there (in new york).
    ~
    [34:50] ives asked about gb being ready now. (apparently 1 yr ago, he said he wasn’t.) he said emphatically yes now he’s ready.
    ~
    [39:50] franco asked what is success and when was gb first contacted. earnie said if our style is what fans like, qualify for ’22 and do well in ’22. gb said late august/early sept.
    ~
    my notes:
    ~
    HIRING PROCESS: cordeiro said ussoccer had a very busy year. they really couldn’t have gone any faster. earnie said he could not start work until august 1. and reaching out to every us player with xx caps takes time, he basically said he couldn’t have gone any faster, either.
    LOSING OPPORTUNITIES: during this lengthy process, some candidates dropped out. earnie basically said that’s life, we just move on.
    JAY NEXT CEO? flynn and cordeiro spoke. cordeiro basically said sure, we always have a succession plan and sure flynn will retire one day and sure jay berhalter could be a candidate, so could many others, they will also use a headhunter firm to find outside candidates, too.
    JAY/GREGG CONFLICT OF INTEREST? cordeiro said no conflict of interest. sure jay was on a board led by carlos bocanegra last spring to search for gm, jay was one of 5-6 people, boca was the chair of committee, jay was just a member of the committee. cordeiro said earnie did the hiring, jay was not involved. and obviously, they foresaw that gregg would be a likely candidate so they deliberately made sure jay was not involved in the hiring since the beginning. finally, put yourself in their shoes, why discriminate against gregg just because jay is in the organization already.
    STYLE OF PLAY: gregg said it’s a fluid style of play based on simple principles, primarily “ball circulation breaking lines creating scoring opportunities”. the same as in columbus is my understanding of what he meant.
    SHORT LENGTH OF CAMP TIME: gregg wants to try to deliver training to our usa players where ever they are via innovative methods such as webinars. give them as much info/training as possible before they ever even arrive to camp.
    BRINGING OLDER PLAYERS BACK: gregg mentioned right away that yes he plans to bring older players back.
    ~
    my two cents: i am very pleased with all of the q&a. i found cordeiro, earnie, gregg and flynn to be personable and professional. i found their answers to be very knowledgeable and clear. i think that A) there is no nepotism going on here. B) the process could not have gone any faster due primarily to joing 2026 wc bid. C) earnie’s profile method is the right way to do a coach hiring search. and it couldn’t have been done any faster. D) gregg is indeed the right man for the job, because of who he is and his abilities, and not because of his brother jay. E) i’m so damn excited, i can’t wait to see what our team looks like out there on the field after they have some time to learn his system. and i realize that will be a process, too. F) the only real criticism i think that applies here is transparency – they had a great process going on, they just needed to provide a little more communication with the outside/media/fans along the way.

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      • Gary – It appears that you just want to be pissed off. Did you even try to comprehend what he wrote, or were you too busy making sure it didn’t mess up your pissy mood and ruin the narrative that you already made up based being angry and convinced that US Soccer screwed up without any real perspective on the matter?

  8. sorry for some word that I misspell or were used incorrect. I meant to say from the Beginning and along. not beggin or alone. LOL plus if you find some more I didn’t have an autocorrection set up LMAO.

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  9. One of the reason they waited for the MLS season to be over was 1st. Because they did not want to pay for termination of Greg B. Contract to Columbus Crew, Remember that GB was his last season. Really Really I don’t know why the don’t tell the truth, That they wanted an American Coach from the begging is not like they were going to get sue for discrimination only cause they wanted an American coach. It was just simple they had their guy all alone. Every body of the Media and USA Fan all across knew that GB was mention all the time and that he was the main guy to become the Coach. 33 from 11 and then 6 to a 3 but only talk to two. this sound like American Idol or the Voice show. each was getting eliminated until you get the big winner. Ernie you Suck. Cordeiro you just a Puppet still for the SUM and we know who still president of the company Mr. Gulati. Greg is the big winner and I have to support him and I hope he does well, please do.

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  10. I don’t have problems with much of the process. However, the Federation dropped the ball on transparency and keeping the public informed of progress in the coaching search. I like the approach of specifically defining what you are looking for and then casting a wide net which then applies those characteristics as a filter. What I don’t like is assuming what I think I know about an individual without actually talking to them. In that sense apparently talking to only 2 of those final 3 candidates is questionable.

    I also think that the Federation needs to further define Stewart’s role in assembling the pool of players for Berhalter to select his final team and the link between the US Youth Teams and the full National Team.

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    • I think if everyone is being honest with themselves the main problem we have is the length of time to name a coach. I really don’t have a huge issue with Berhalter being the final decision since I have no idea who was available other than Pareja. I don’t see any conspiracy here to get Jay’s brother to be the coach, but from all reports Gregg was the #1 from before Earnie even took over. Thats where the real question is for me. Why did it take 4 months to name a manager when it seems like the GM knew very well who he wanted to hire? Was it really about a process or about pretending there was a process? Was this all about accounting and letting coaches run down their contracts? Most likely they just decided to let Berhalter finish the MLS season before naming him, but it would make everyone feel a lot better if they would be honest about it.

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      • Agree with all of this. It’s the lack of transparency that is alienating the fans. Like everyone else, I figure they had decided on Berhalter long ago. And that’s fine. The USSF probably didn’t want to sign him yet because they were still paying buyouts from both Arena and JK (if I’m not mistaken). Sarachan was already on the payroll, so it made financial sense to let him finish out the year, then sign Berhalter. I, at least, would have been fine with that if there would have been some kind of acknowledgment by USSF that was the plan. They could even have spun the fall friendlies into something palatable by announcing it was a new era, we have the chance to try new young players, no biggie if we lose, blah blah. Instead, they put out this charade of a coaching search and now have a hard time defending their timeline, plan, and the Jay Berhalter connection. All things that could have been avoided or mitigated by a little honesty. Let’s hope Stewart and Berhalter are better at the soccer than they are at the politics.

    • I agree that I’d want to interview more people formally and I would also want to treat the process not just as a hiring search but also to pick the brains of smart coaches about how they saw my team.

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    • I also agree that a process where one creates a checklist from talking to USSF stakeholders and that only formally interviews a short list of people is more likely to replicate internal conventional wisdom and not see unique ideas or blindspots. Personally with Martino it seems like they used the checklist as much as a shield as a tool. Put differently, I am a little leery of a checklist that results in odd choices emerging.

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    • A lot of people here are saying that it’s just the process and lack of transparency.Baloney. Does anyone really think Berhalter was the best coach we could have gotten? Just in MLS, Martino, Vermes and Bradley are better coaches. Also you have Jesse Marsch now in Germany, plus Tab Ramos, all of whom I would pick ahead of Berhalter. Berhalter may turn out to be a fine coach; I hope so. But the best available? No way. What we need to see is a comprehensive plan on how the US is going to get better results. So far all we have is happy talk, attaboys, and meaningless bromides as USSF officials pat each other on their backs and try to defend what they have done–which is to waste a lot of time on someone they feel comfortable with who is also the brother of a top USSF official. You can try and put lipstick on this pig, but the USSF can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, to mix metaphors.

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      • I think there is a difference between the “best” coach and the “right” coach for the USMNT. Some of the very best coaches in the world may not be suitable for the USMNT. By that I mean the very top tier coaches are used to working with a different caliber of player and with a different soccer culture. GB’s challenge is to assemble a team of good but not great players into a functioning team that is greater than the sum of its parts. That coach also has to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the American player to leverage their strengths and hide the weaknesses within a tactical framework that can be both attractive where possible and effective.

  11. This makes no sense ,if you eliminate people based on the way their teams play they should not have even been considered in the first place. This was waiting for his MLS season to be over and then figuring out how much to pay him. I wish him well but please stop the horsehockey Smellometer says 10 out of 10.

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    • I think there is an intellectual arrogance about focusing solely on coaches who will play a certain way that the GM predetermines. You’re almost having the GM coach the team, and it puts a lot of pressure on has the GM evaluated correctly like a coach. Also, if only the coaches meeting the predetermined style are advanced, then you concrete in any blindspot by eliminating contrary voices. I’d want to know what the coaches say and let them try to convince me what I need. They are after all who will coach. What do they think we need? You then use that practical learning to further educate yourself about your team, and narrow down to the desired style from an informed rather than pre-determined perspective. Personally my first cut would not be on style, it would be on proven excellence. I then want those good coaches, better at coaching than me, to sell me on what my team needs.

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      • I agree with your checklist perspective and also first focusing on “excellence” as you put it. However, I feel like we are being given the company line so to speak. I’m not sure there ever was a real checklist, or thorough evaluation of 33 candidates. Berhalter seems to have been the first choice from the start. The other guys were backup options in case things fell through and to show that they considered other options.
        I really don’t have a huge problem with Berhalter being hired. I have a problem with the timeline and being fed these BS lines about the process. Just say we love Gregg and think he is a strong up and coming manager. He was our first choice, and we’re so glad to have him etc….Basically tell the truth

  12. my two cents: euro snobs cry ‘nepotism’. but people who actually listen to what earnie has been saying hear something very different. earnie talks about our soccer values, culture and style. i guess eurosnobs don’t like to hear this but that eliminates (no disrespect meant) jose mourinho and probably virtually all of the big name coaches at big name clubs in europe, yes? if you actually listen to what earnie has been saying, then who fits the profile? probably an american coach. well who might that be? probably berhalter or marsch or vermes or perhaps pareja.
    ~
    i can’t believe i’m going to say this but guys, there’s no conspiracy here. berhalter was just the best candidate for the job. my two cents.

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  13. I’m reminded of how Dick Cheney became Vice President. George W. Bush asked Cheney to do a search for him to find the best candidate for running mate. Cheney pretended to search and, after a couple of weeks, announced to Bush that he, Dick Cheney, was the best candidate. Nothing unusual here, move along. Consider me skeptical and unconvinced when this supposedly long and thorough search just happens to find the best candidate is the brother of a top USSF official who was right in front of them all along. What a coincidence!! You believe this and I have a bridge to sell you, real cheap..

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    • It’s kind of like when pols used to set up a committee to consider whether they would run. Rather than admit straight out what you’re doing, they create a fake intermediate state where they can walk away having tried but never publicly committed.

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  14. I don’t have a problem with Berhalter being the coach. Judging from his time in Columbus he seems to be a good coach respected by his players. Plus it’s good to see some former players in charge of the team. The program needs a lot of hard work by everyone involved and especially the young players. USA!

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  15. Must be nice working in a job you can start when you want and have no deadlines. These three goofs couldn’t hold a job at McDonalds. Why doesn’t anyone in the media call them out. Pathetic

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    • hernando peralta, you’re just mad because they didn’t let a euro candidate use ussoccer to build his investment portfolio for four years, half-heartedly, and then leave us for the job he really wanted in europe. instead we have a coach we can be proud of and who is proud to be our coach. he’s not just here for the money.

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  16. They’re just a bunch of crooks. Yeah they have 33 candidates but all of those candidates with only one name : Greg Berhalter.

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  17. Earnie keeps on talking about this “profile” method of his. Someone needs to tell him that he’s a GM looking for a coach, not an FBI agent looking for a serial killer. The guy thinks he re-inventing the wheel here.

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  18. LOL. 3 months of pretending to do a search, just so Jay berhalter’s brother can land the job with a little bit more plausibility. Most of the soccer fan base is not dumb.

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