The search for a permanent head coach for the United States Men’s National Team has had some questionable decisions over the past 13 months, but we may have found the winning entry. Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl reported after the USMNT’s 1-0 defeat to Italy that Julen Lopetegui, the former Real Madrid and Spain coach, approached U.S. Soccer recently to express his interest in the USMNT head coaching position. U.S. Soccer informed Lopetegui that it was “too far down the line in its process to entertain” his interest in the job, turning down his interview request.
Now, it’s widely assumed that U.S. Soccer has settled on Gregg Berhalter as their next coach, and they have inexplicably gone through this long process without interviewing some logical candidates for the position. However, Lopetegui is arguably the most high-profile candidate who was interested in the position but was turned down for an interview.
New insider: Bayern Munich wants Christian Pulisic. Meanwhile, Julen Lopetegui, former Spain and Real Madrid coach, approached US Soccer with interest in USMNT job. US Soccer said no thanks. https://t.co/JPWlGyq2qE— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) November 20, 2018
Julen Lopetegui has had a tumultuous 2018. In June 2018, just days before the beginning of the 2018 World Cup, he was fired as Spain’s head coach, despite a 14-0-6 record in 2 years, because he had arranged a post-World Cup move to Real Madrid without informing the Spanish Football Federation. He then moved to Real Madrid, where he amassed a .500 record in 14 matches and was fired after an embarassing 5-1 loss to Barcelona.
Still, despite all this, Lopetegui has amassed a 119-34-40 record in 15 years with Rayo Vallecano, Real Madrid B, Spain U-19s, Spain U-20s, Spain U-21s, FC Porto, Spain, and Real Madrid. An unbeaten record with a perennial international soccer power over 2 years is something that no other coach who has been interviewed or expressed interest can say. To not even talk with a coach of that caliber will leave USMNT fans throwing up their arms and quoting Taylor Twellman: “What are we doing?! What are we doing?!”
Hopefully, U.S. Soccer knows what it’s doing (Narrator: they don’t), but add Julen Lopetegui to the list of possible head coaching candidates that never were.