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US Soccer bids farewell to Dave Sarachan

USMNT no longer has an interim head coach. This would suggest US Soccer is finally ready to appoint the next non-interim USMNT head coach.

England Press Conference Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

On the day before Thanksgiving, US Soccer announced Dave Sarachan’s tenure as US Men’s National Team head coach is over.

Thank You Dave: Sarachan lays groundwork for future USMNT success” reads the headline of US Soccer’s official farewell to the man it burdened with the seemingly interminable task of coaching USMNT in the interim between Bruce Arena’s exit (after the USA’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup) and the yet-to-be-announced appointment of new coach to lead the team into the next World Cup qualifying cycle.

It’s not always the case that an outgoing head coach gets a thank-you letter from his employer, but US Soccer is clearly feeling a little apologetic about the position it put Sarachan in. The official statement on his departure is at pains to provide context to a string of friendlies in which the US Men’s National Team was effectively driven by the same philosophy as New York Red Bulls II:

Knowing the experiences provided to young players early in the cycle were more important than results, the Rochester, N.Y. native’s tenure has largely been defined by laying the early groundwork for the Men’s National Team program as it approaches the rest of the cycle.

US Soccer acknowledged Sarachan had “no easy task” and thanked him for doing his job with “grace, class and the overriding goal of setting up the program for future success”.

It is a thanks that is well-deserved. Sarachan’s apparent instruction - keep the engine turning over, swap out a few parts, but please for the love of God don’t try to drive it anywhere meaningful - must have been as frustrating for him to follow as it was for fans to watch.

But it’s over now. A relief to all concerned, no doubt.

US Soccer’s next task is to get its new USMNT head coach announced. The longer the Federation prolongs its inexplicable dawdling over appointing a coach to lead its highest-profile men’s team, the more we can expect the rumor mill to do its best to provide some rhyme or reason to the increasingly puzzling difficulty US Soccer appears to be having in making a routine hire.

Indeed, since US Soccer still hasn’t got around to announcing near-prohibitive favorite Gregg Berhalter as the new USMNT head coach, the rumor mill has already started gently amplifying a proposed explanation for the lack of a “Berhalter to coach USMNT to 2022 World Cup” official statement:

Sarachan’s formal departure from the seat he was keeping warm for the next USMNT head coach would suggest US Soccer is ready to announce the next USMNT head coach. Perhaps after Thanksgiving, perhaps after MLS Cup (December 8) - but sometime soon. An announcement in January would give the appearance of a hasty appointment for USMNT’s January training camp - and raise the question why Sarachan was let go, since USMNT’s January camp usually has the sort of scouting and development priorities that defined Sarachan’s entire tenure.

So expect US Soccer is finally ready to tell us something about USMNT’s next head coach. And for that we can surely be thankful.