Dave Sarachan, Bruce Arena’s top assistant on the failed U.S. World Cup qualifying campaign, was named interim head coach of the men’s national team and will oversee the Nov. 14 friendly against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal.
After Arena’s departure two weeks ago, Sarachan and the rest of Arena’s staff — Pat Noonan, Matt Reis and Kenny Arena — remained under contract until the end of the year. The U.S. Soccer Federation is not expected to retain them once a permanent replacement is hired.
The coaching search isn’t likely to conclude anytime soon.
“As this is the start of a five-year project to qualify for the 2022 World Cup and grow the national team, we want to give ourselves the best opportunity to find the right coach to lead the program,” the USSF said in a written statement. “As such, there is no specific timetable. We are developing a strategic approach to selecting the next head coach, and we will be thorough and methodical.”
The United States will not play in major competition until the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Americans were in prime position to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia, but with a 2-1 defeat against last-place Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 10, finished fifth in a six-team regional group and missed soccer’s quadrennial tournament for the first time since 1986.
Sarachan, 63, assisted Arena with the University of Virginia (1984-87), D.C. United (1997-98), U.S. squad (1999-2002), Los Angeles Galaxy (2008-16) and the U.S. team again this year. He was the Chicago Fire’s head coach from 2003 until the middle of the 2007 MLS season.
The away match against Portugal, to be played in the city of Leiria, will conclude the U.S. team’s 2017 schedule. Sarachan is expected to invite a mix of regulars and newcomers to face the reigning European champions, who are ranked No. 3 in the world and feature Ronaldo, the Real Madrid superstar who on Monday was named FIFA player of the year for the fifth time.
The match falls in an official FIFA window, allowing coaches to summon whomever they please. For the U.S. program, it’s a good opportunity to introduce some new players.
Because the period falls amid the MLS playoffs, Sarachan is likely to choose only those league players from teams that have been eliminated.
From the European player pool, candidates include Huddersfield Town midfielder Danny Williams; Sheffield United defender Cameron Carter-Vickers (age 19); Sunderland midfielder Lynden Gooch; Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie (19); Werder Bremen forward Isiah Young (19); Vitesse defender Matt Miazga; Paris Saint-Germain forward Tim Weah (17); and Brugge goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.
Young holdovers, such as Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic and Newcastle’s DeAndre Yedlin, are also in the mix.
From the Mexican circuit, Monterrey midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez (18) is making a case for himself as a creative attacker.
The roster will be announced sometime after North American and European league matches Nov. 4-5.
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