The man who will start the rebuilding process for U.S. Soccer is Dave Sarachan, who was named interim USMNT coach for the team’s final match of 2017, a November friendly against Portugal. That the press release from U.S. Soccer mentioned Sarachan exactly once in six paragraphs tells you all you need to know about the new coach.
Sarachan is a long-time assistant under Bruce Arena, who resigned earlier this month after the U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati gave a timeline of “seven to 10 days” to name an interim replacement and then took 11 days to announce Sarachan, who was already on the payroll as Arena’s assistant and will be joined by the remainder of Arena’s technical staff.
While Sarachan isn’t expected to be a long-term choice, it isn’t quite clear how long he and the rest of Arena’s former staff will stick around. For sure he will coach the team for the Nov. 14 friendly against Portugal and it’s possible the coaches will hold the annual January camp. It’s looking more likely that the next USMNT coach will be chosen after the USSF presidential election in February. It would make sense for a full replacement to be chosen after the World Cup, when more qualified candidates will become available.
Sarachan, a 63-year-old native New Yorker, has been an assistant for much of his career, mostly under Arena. He has had two head coaching jobs: for 11 years at his alma mater Cornell University and five years with the Chicago Fire. He was an assistant for Arena during the United States’ run to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, which included a 2-0 win over Mexico.
The Portugal match will be played at Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa in Leiria, which is near the recent outbreak of wildfires in Portugal. All proceeds from the match (and Saudi Arabia’s visit to face the 2016 European champions on Nov. 10) will go to those affected. Gulati originally said the U.S. would play two friendlies during the international break but it appears there will now just be the one.
Sarachan will likely choose a young squad for that match but it’s unlikely to reveal too much about the Americans’ long-term plans to rebuild after the shocking World Cup fiasco. The squad will also depend upon which teams are still going in the MLS playoffs. Given that the match is in Europe, a number of European-based players are likely to be called in for the FIFA-sanctioned date. Now would be a prime opportunity to see Germany-based youngsters like Weston McKennie, Haji Wright and Caleb Stanko brought into the fold.