If Jürgen Klopp is available, Jim Curtin says no others need be interviewed by US Soccer

Jim Curtin thinks the search for Gregg Berhalter’s successor as U.S. coach doesn’t need to be complicated.

“If Jürgen Klopp is available to do it and wants to do it, you don’t need an interview process for that. That’s the guy,” the Philadelphia Union coach said Thursday. “But the reality is I don’t know how serious that is.”

Klopp retired from Liverpool this spring after nine seasons that included Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League titles and appears to be the fan favorite to replace Berhalter, who was fired Wednesday following the Americans’ first-round exit at the Copa America.

Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Marcelo Bielsa also are among those being speculated about as candidates to lead the Americans into the 2026 World Cup, along with Curtin, Steve Cherundolo, Jesse Marsch, Hugo Pérez, Pellegrino Matarazzo, David Wagner, Massimiliano Allegri and Mauricio Pochettino.

“I think you need a bold, brash personality, someone that walks into that room and tells everyone that they’re on a clean slate, and they’ve got to figure out who they want to be going into that World Cup,” said Apple TV lead analyst Taylor Twellman, a former national team forward.

”Right now this group of players has heard far too long that they’re the golden generation of player, yet they haven’t really had that significant win,” Twellman added, “so I would if I’m running the organization say, hang on a minute, I’m going to take the attention away from players. I’m going to put someone in front of the camera, someone that takes all the eyeballs, all the attention off of them and puts all the pressure on themselves.”

USSF sporting director Matt Crocker is leading the search for the coach, who will have his full player pool available for just nine one-week training periods before the team gathers in the weeks ahead of the Americans’ World Cup opener on June 12, 2026.

“They should talk to people that know something about the job and the qualities of the person and the experience that they need to have for that job,” said Bruce Arena, the winningest coach in the U.S. national team’s history. “Naturally, they name some of the elite coaches in the world, but it’s a different job than coaching a club, and that needs to be understood — and obviously knowing the culture of the sport in our country and the players that we have.”

The U.S. has four friendlies upcoming, against Canada on Sept. 7, New Zealand three days later, Panama on Oct. 12 and an opponent to be determined on Oct. 15. The next competitive matches are a two-leg CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal in November.

Berhalter’s successor will have the shortest preparation time for a U.S. World Cup appearance since Bob Gansler replaced Lothar Osiander in January 1989, less than 17 months before the tournament. The coach will inherit the weakest goalkeeper pool in 35 years and a lack of top central defense prospects from the under-23 team.

Berhalter was hired by the USSF after he coached Columbus for five seasons. Curtin, in his 11th season in charge of Philadelphia and Major League Soccer’s second-longest-tenured coach, suggested Berhalter’s lack of success in his second term boosted the appeal of foreign coaches because of “the stigma of the MLS coach.”

“There’s great candidates that are in MLS,” Curtin said. “However, people associated with our league right now because of the past maybe aren’t going to get the same consideration or get the same positivity around them moving forward. That doesn’t mean an MLS coach can’t go in there and do a great job, but the perception will be negative if that is where it lands.”

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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