U.S. Soccer’s overhaul of its youth national team coaching ranks has been a slow process, but Earnie Stewart has begun filling roles, and is set to turn to a familiar face in American youth development to fill one of the more prominent positions.
Sources tell SBI that Larry Sunderland is the leading candidate to become the next U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team coach. Sunderland would replace Raphael Wicky, who recently left the job to take over as head coach of the Chicago Fire.
Sunderland is currently FC Cincinnati’s Director of Player Development, a position he filled last May. Prior to joining FC Cincinnati, Sunderland served as youth technical director for the Portland Timbers for four years. Before Portland, Sunderland served as director of player development and academy director for the Chicago Fire.
According to a FC Cincinnati spokesperson, Sunderland is under contract with FC Cincinnati and there have been no discussions about him leaving to take a full-time position with U.S. Soccer.
Sunderland has previous experience in the U.S. youth national team ranks, having previously spent time as head coach of the U.S. Under-16 team last May, prior to joining FC Cincinnati.
Sunderland would be taking over a program that has had plenty of turnover in the past year. Wicky took charge of the position last March, filling the vacancy left when John Hackworth left the job to become head coach of USL side Louisville City.
Wicky helped the U.S. Under-17s qualify for the Under-17 World Cup, but the Americans lost all three group matches at the World Cup in Brazil in October in a thoroughly disappointing performance.
U.S. Soccer announced the hiring of Anthony Hudson as U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team coach on Wednesday. U.S. Men’s Under-19, Under-18 and Under-16 vacancies have yet to be filled, but are expected to be filled in the coming weeks.
Filling those vacancies hasn’t been easy for Stewart as he tries to entice candidates to take positions that require them to live in Chicago (that requirement wouldn’t serve as a deterrent to Sunderland, who has strong ties to Chicago). Sources tell SBI that D.C. United assistant coach Nolan Sheldon turned down the U-20 post eventually filled by Hudson, and North Texas SC coach Eric Quill turned down the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team job.