The rumors about who could possibly become the next United States Men’s National Team coach are starting to come in bunches. Today, a report by Mundo Albiceleste, citing a TYC Sports report, claims that Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has received offers from U.S. Soccer, Mexico and Costa Rica to take over their head coaching positions.
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has reportedly received offers to coach the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica. https://t.co/rkZnaQe8l4— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) July 8, 2018
Now, we can easily dismiss this as a rumor, one that carries no legs for several reasons. Sampaoli is still the Argentina coach and while people expect him and Argentina to part ways, it hasn’t happened yet. Mexico still has their coach as well, with Juan Carlos Osorio also expected to leave but still holds the coaching position. New USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart doesn’t officially assume the role full-time until August 1st, and he is supposed to be responsible for all MNT coaching hires. But really, the main reason we should dismiss this rumor is simple: Jorge Sampaoli would be a disaster for the USMNT.
For one, the baggage he carries is immense. Since he won the 2015 Copa America with Chile, he flamed out at Sevilla and took over an Argentine squad that was struggling in World Cup qualifying. While they eventually qualified thanks to some Lionel Messi heroics, they underperformed throughout his tenure. When they arrived at the 2018 World Cup, they did so as heavy favorites despite a pre-World Cup tour that saw them get smoked by Spain and have a friendly against Israel canceled over political protests.
Then, there was the actual performance at the World Cup. Their 1-1 draw to Iceland and a 3-0 loss to Croatia in the group stage had his team on the verge of mutiny ahead of its final group stage match against Nigeria. His tactics were erratic, his substitutions were puzzling, and his decision-making was frustrating. Still, they somehow made it out of the group by the skin of their teeth.
Argentina eventually met their end in the Round of 16 against France, a 4-3 defeat that was probably more lopsided than the final score. With the exception of just a few minutes of luck and brilliance on the part of the players, Argentina was no match for a French squad that dazzled from start to finish. La Albiceleste were out, a disappointing finish for the team who were the 2014 World Cup runners-up and runners-up in the 2015 Copa America and 2016 Copa America Centenario and were expected to at least return to the semifinals in this World Cup.
Those don’t fare well for a stint with the USMNT. He’d also have to figure out a way to continue the development of the younger guys in the player pool, something he wasn’t the best at with Argentina. There, he took a golden generation of sorts and rode them until the wheels fell off...and fall off they did. The Argentine federation is in disarray, and many important players are now considering retirement. Sound familiar?
When it comes to Jorge Sampaoli, of course he may have a decent resume coaching some big-time South American teams. But, the baggage he carries and his tendencies to have tenures built around turmoil rather than teamwork is something that should not be brought into a situation with the USMNT. There are other qualified candidates out there without the baggage, but as agents try to jockey their clients into prominent positions, know that these rumors will get people talking. But, for the USMNT’s sake, let’s hope Jorge Sampaoli becomes some other team’s problem and Earnie Stewart and U.S. Soccer say to his candidacy: