U.S. Soccer finally ended the Gregg Berhalter era on Wednesday night.

The federation really had no choice but to fire him after dropping out of the Copa America group stage at home.

I could make a strong argument that Berhalter shouldn’t have been brought back after the 2022 World Cup in the first place, but that’s an article for another day.

The focus now is on the future and how U.S. Soccer can get the best possible result for the 2026 World Cup on home soil.

Former Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp should be the center of the coaching search.

Klopp is currently a free agent after he spent the last decade reviving Liverpool back to an English Premier League power. He won the EPL and the UEFA Champions League. He’s also a two-time Bundesliga champion with Borussia Dortmund.

Klopp is widely acclaimed as one of the best managers in the world, and if U.S. Soccer is willing to back up the Brinks truck for him, it’s worth a healthy pursuit.

By retaining Berhalter for a year-and-a-half after the last World Cup, U.S. Soccer put itself in a dangerous situation. It absolutely has to get the hire right, have that person in place by the next set of friendlies in September and have that manager implement his style and culture on the team immediately.

A year and a half is not a lot of landing strip for an international manager, especially one for a World Cup host nation. The USMNT won’t be playing a ton of quality opponents for a while because everyone will be involved in the World Cup qualification, while the Americans are already qualified as the host.

That’s why the Copa America was such a big deal, and now that program-building opportunity has been wasted and the USMNT is back at square one.

The good news on the Klopp front is that U.S. Soccer just went out and paid big money to hire Emma Hayes for the USWNT job. Hayes is widely regarded as the best women’s soccer manager in the world. So if they’re willing to land the best target on the women’s side, they should do the same thing for the men’s team.

The idea of Klopp is fascinating because of how his Liverpool teams played and the success he achieved there, but if there’s one knock on him, it’s that he hasn’t coached at the international level.

At the club level, Klopp is around his players every single day for 10 months and can implement everything he wants, whereas at the international level, he’ll have around 12-15 windows to have the full group together to fine-tune what he wants done on the field.

Forget what the USMNT needs for a second, there could also be a part of Klopp that just doesn’t want the job. He could kick back in whatever European resort town for the next year or two and wait for the perfect club job to come around. Why would he want the most high-pressure men’s international opening available and put his reputation on the line?

Well, it’s that last point that may convince him to be the guy. If he revamps the USMNT and takes them on a run to the semifinals at a home World Cup, he’d be a legend over here. No one expects the Americans to win the World Cup, but if they even get remotely close to that goal while playing attractive soccer, it will be a success.

U.S. Soccer also has to have backup plans in place if Klopp turns down the job.

I don’t think anyone wants to see another MLS-based manager take over. That path is too tainted by Berhalter at the moment, plus there aren’t many qualified candidates in the MLS coaching pool yet.

LAFC’s Steve Cherundolo is arguably the most underrated player to ever put on the U.S. shirt. He earned 87 caps for the U.S. and played in two World Cups at the underappreciated left back position.

Cherundolo is well aware of American expectations and what the team should achieve at the World Cup, but he’s only three years into his MLS coaching career. It would be asking a lot of him to take over the USMNT and turn it around on a short-term basis. But he should absolutely be considered for the 2030 World Cup cycle.

Jim Curtin’s window to be the USMNT boss has passed. He was mentioned in the post-World Cup conversations, but the Philadelphia Union’s drop off this season will be attached to him, whether that’s fair or not.

Wilfried Nancy just led the Columbus Crew to MLS Cup and is widely regarded as one of the rising stars of the profession, but U.S. Soccer isn’t in a position to land a rising star right now. They need to land an established veteran with a long track record.

That brings me to the dark horse candidate. Herve Renard is currently France’s women’s coach. His contract runs out after the Olympics, which he could very well win on French soil.

Renard mostly managed in Africa and Asia, but he’s found success with much less than the U.S. has to work with. He won the African Cup of Nations with Zambia in 2012 and with Ivory Coast in 2015. He took Morocco to the 2018 World Cup, a team tied Spain in its final group game and played Portugal to a 1-0 loss. That’s two competitive games against potential World Cup favorites in 2026.

Renard also led Saudi Arabia to the 2022 World Cup, where they famously beat eventual champion Argentina in the first group stage game.

I’d kill for the USMNT to be competitive with Argentina or Spain at the World Cup, so someone with that track record should absolutely get a phone call.

England boss Gareth Southgate is out of contract after the Euros, and if England wins on Sunday, his job will be completed. He could look for another challenge, but if not, I could see him staying with England for 2026. Former Germany manager Joachim Low is worth a look as well. He won the 2014 World Cup during his 15-year stint as Germany boss.

There are plenty of international candidates at this level to call before U.S. Soccer reverts back to the pool of candidates from MLS.

If Klopp rejects U.S. Soccer, it isn’t the end of the world, but the federation better land someone worthy of leading the USMNT to a deep run at a home World Cup.

Kinkead: oh no –