Analysis

Five potential replacements for Jurgen Klinsmann as USMNT coach

Jurgen Klinsmann is on thin ice, with many U.S. fans and most journalists calling for his ousting. Would Bruce Arena step in again? Or maybe an old foe from Mexico? Paul Tenorio explores potential candidates:

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Ron Scheffler-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Scheffler-USA TODAY Sports

The United States men's national team sits last in the six-team table of the final round of World Cup qualifying following a pair of losses over the past week.

A 2-1 loss to Mexico last Friday marked the first U.S. loss on home soil in qualifying since 2001, and it ended the famous "Dos a Cero" run -- four straight World Cup qualifers in Columbus, Ohio, in which the U.S. beat Mexico, 2-0. But it also looked even worse as U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann rolled out an ill-advised 3-5-2 formation that only lasted about 25 minutes before being abandoned. 

And then came Tuesday: An embarrassing, 4-0 defeat on the road against Costa Rica in which the Americans were tactically a mess and, more alarmingly, appeared to quit.

Klinsmann's job is now ostensibly in the balance, and with no more qualifying matches until March, the time is now to make a change. But U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati is traditionally pragmatic, and as recently as Friday he noted that the U.S. hasn't ever changed coaches in the middle of the final round of qualifying, and he doesn't expect to change that now.

Did the two losses that followed change his mind? They should have. If Klinsmann is shown the door, Gulati will have already devised a plan for his replacement. Five candidates are clear fits for the job, although one might surprise you:

Bruce Arena

LA Galaxy head coach

The current LA Galaxy boss would be a return to the coach who led the U.S. to its most successful World Cup performance in the modern era: a quarterfinals appearance in 2002.

Arena is arguably the most successful and influential coach in American soccer history. He’s won at every level at which he’s coached – college, pros and international – and his ability as a man-manager would work well in an ever-changing U.S. pool. Arena is out of contract with the Galaxy right now, but some egos would have to be pushed aside for the 65-year-old to step back into the top job in U.S. men’s soccer.  

If there is a pick that checks all the boxes, though, it’s this one, and Arena’s experience with the U.S. for two cycles in the past would allow him to easily transition into the job in the middle of the Hex.

NEXT: An ex-USMNT player who knows the ropes

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