Who will be the next USMNT coach? Berhalter, Marsch, Zidane and the leading candidates

Berhalter Zidane Marsch split USMNT
Gregg Berhalter's future has been thrown further into doubt by the current scandal engulfing American soccer, meaning he could be replaced...

If the U.S. men's national team's coaching search wasn't difficult before, it sure is now. U.S. Soccer faces a massive decision when it comes to choosing who will lead the USMNT into the 2026 World Cup, a tournament set to be held on home soil that is expected to vault American soccer into a new stratosphere.

The next three-and-a-half years are perhaps the most important in American soccer history, with a series of friendlies, CONCACAF tournaments and a Copa America all serving as test runs for a pivotal World Cup.

Picking the coach to lead that run is a key decision, one that U.S. Soccer leadership isn't rushing. The federation named Anthony Hudson as interim coach for the annual January camp, which saw a loss and a draw against Serbia and Colombia, respectively.

Gregg Berhalter, by all accounts, remains in the mix to stay on, but bringing him back is now even more complicated amid revelations about his past and a feud with the Reyna family.

An ugly domestic violence incident from 30 years ago has been dragged up, creating a bitter feud between Berhalter and the Reynas that has thrown the U.S. into turmoil.

Adding to the chaotic nature of all of this is the departures of sporting director Earnie Stewart and general manager Brian McBride, the men who were expected to lead the coaching search. Now, U.S. Soccer will need to fill their jobs before deciding on a coach and, as a result, the new USMNT boss may not be confirmed until summer.

Is all of this enough to officially end Berhalter's tenure? It's too soon to truly say, although it isn't looking great for him. If the U.S. does move on, there are plenty of intriguing options to lead the team towards the 2026 World Cup.

GOAL looks at the leading candidates below...

  1. Gregg Berhalter
    Getty Images

    Gregg Berhalter

    A few months ago, the road to Berhalter staying looked a bit clearer.

    But after the recent revelations and controversies, it remains to be seen if either side will want to continue this partnership.

    Stewart said that Berhalter was still in consideration, but that was before his own departure was revealed. Stewart's exit may just be the end of Berhalter's hopes, as a new sporting director will likely want to point the program in a new direction.

    Those at the federation are generally happy with how the U.S. performed at the World Cup and several players in the USMNT squad have stated that they'd be glad to keep playing under Berhalter going forward.

    However, there are always questions about a two-cycle coach and the U.S. has seen those questions quickly turn into full-blown disasters in the 2014 and 2018 World Cup cycles. There's a circle out there that believes that Berhalter has taken this team as far as he can and that it's time for a fresh voice and fresh ideas.

    And let's not forget about Berhalter's own desires. There's a chance that he, too, is ready to move on for a club job elsewhere, especially given how toxic the team has become since the World Cup ended.

  2. Jesse Marsch
    Getty Images

    Jesse Marsch

    Marsch is on the market following his departure from Leeds, paving the way for this potential match made in heaven.

    Marsch has been linked with the USMNT job for years, and he's been asked about coaching the U.S. in the 2026 World Cup plenty of times before. Each of those times, he pointed to his ambitions in Europe, which very well could have changed in recent days after being dismissed by Leeds.

    Is Marsch willing to give up his European dream to lead the U.S. into a World Cup on home soil? Is Marsch even the right fit, or is he just being linked to this job because of his nationality? Could U.S. Soccer and Marsch work together to build on the foundation laid out by Berhalter?

    Those are the big questions that need to be answered by a coach that has suddenly become the clear front-runner.

  3. Jim Curtin

    Jim Curtin

    The Philadelphia Union manager could be the next to take the leap from MLS to the USMNT.

    Curtin has worked wonders with the Union, building the club into a powerhouse with an endless army of homegrown studs. Throughout his tenure, Curtin has developed a reputation for getting the best out of young players and helping them prepare for the next step in their careers.

    The USMNT, though, might be past that point in its development, as many of the team's stars will be entering their prime by the time 2026 rolls around.

    Curtin may have been a good fit for the young U.S. building towards 2022, but there's an argument to be made that the U.S. will need someone with a bit more high-level experience on the road to the next World Cup.

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  4. Marcelo Bielsa

    Marcelo Bielsa

    What a wild ride this would be!

    Bielsa is a legitimate coaching legend, having influenced many of the world's top managers with his relentless work ethic and tactical genius. The Argentine has worked all over the world, forging a reputation as one of the most influential managers in the club and international game.

    However, he's not known as El Loco for nothing. Bielsa is all-controlling and obsessive, which has led to plenty of arguments with his employers. He'd no doubt be prepared to take on the USMNT job due to his obsessive preparation, but would the U.S. be prepared to handle everything that comes with hiring Bielsa?

    There's also U.S. Soccer's prior insistence that the candidate speaks fluent English and live in Chicago, which may prove a massive, massive hurdle when it comes to several top candidates, Bielsa included.

    Mexico, too, are interested in the Argentinian icon, which could lead to a battle between the two CONCACAF titans. Bielsa always makes things interesting, that's for sure, and adding his brand of chaos to CONACACF would certainly be fun for anyone watching on.

  5. Hugo Perez

    Hugo Perez

    You cannot deny the miracles that Perez has worked with El Salvador, as the ex-USMNT midfielder has completely reinvented a program that should be a CONCACAF minnow.

    You also can't deny the influence Perez has had on the USMNT's young stars, having worked so hard to redefine the development pathway during his time as a youth coach in the U.S. system.

    His work didn't always align with U.S. Soccer's own vision, but history has shown just how vital Perez's methods were to developing a generation of young stars.

    Perez has earned this chance, but is he a big enough name to satisfy the public?

  6. Zinedine Zidane

    Zinedine Zidane

    It was always too good to be true.

    GOAL can confirm that U.S. Soccer did reach out to Zinedine Zidane, as did Portugal and Brazil. But the former Real Madrid man turned down the advances, as he is seemingly content to wait for the France job to open up.

    It was a big swing from U.S. Soccer, even if it did miss. And, while Zidane won't be the USMNT manager, it did show that the federation is ready to pursue some of the biggest names the sport has to offer.

    Whether they can pull in a coach of Zidane's caliber is anyone's guess, but it does show plenty of ambition from U.S. Soccer when it comes to making a splash to start the 2026 cycle.

  7. The experienced international managers

    The experienced international managers

    With the 2022 World Cup now behind us, there are plenty of experienced international managers on the market.

    They include Tite and Luis Enrique, both of whom stepped down after falling short with Brazil and Spain, respectively.

    Joachim Low is still out there, and he's a World Cup winner. Ricardo Gareca is also a good shout, having done fantastic work while in charge of Peru.

    All have experience winning on the international stage, but all are relatively unconnected to the American game. They'll also have plenty of suitors at club and international level, meaning the U.S. will need to do some hard work in pitching them on the job.

  8. The elite club managers

    The elite club managers

    There are some sections of the USMNT fandom that believe that U.S. Soccer should target those of the same standing as Zidane.

    Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Mauricio Pochettino, Carlo Ancelotti... all names that many would love to see take over the national team.

    Most of those, though, are little more than pipedreams. The prospect of managing the U.S. on home soil is enticing, sure, but not enticing enough to draw some of the game's elite club managers.

    Managing at club level is very different to managing on the international stage, with different skillsets and styles required.

    That's not to say the above wouldn't thrive in the role, but they will all likely have something else to be doing over the next four years.

    Perhaps U.S. Soccer's current situation will prove advantageous here, though, as they may be forced to wait until summer to make a hire, which would, theoretically, open the door for plenty of club managers to join the race.