Rongen Out, But Who's In?

Friday, May 06, 2011 | View Comments
- Ben McCormick

Yesterday, word came down that the USSF has decided not to renew Thomas Rongen’s contract, which expires at the end of the year. Tab Ramos takes the helm of the U-20s for their trip to France next month, though he hasn't officially named interim coach. With that in mind, here is a quick rundown of some of the possible domestic candidates to take over as U-20 National Team steward:

Tab Ramos: The man picked to lead the U-23 team in their trip to France this month has to be considered a candidate. He cut his teeth as a coach by playing a big role in the foundation of the Sporting Kansas City youth academy, especially in getting the team approved to play in the Development Academy. Ramos’ playing career has taken him far beyond the borders of the US, giving the USSF a versatile candidate knowledgeable about youth development within the US, and without. The major concern is the USSF’s reluctance to even give Ramos the title of Interim Manager, perhaps indicative of just how temporary this position is for him.

Mike Sorber: The current US National Team assistant coached at prestigious St. Louis University, and has been a US assistant since 2007. He started his playing career south of the border at UNAM Pumas before playing five years in MLS. His familiarity with Mexico gives him an edge with the huge number of talented Mexican-Americans plying their trades north and south of the Rio Grande. His major downfall is he is yet to hold a managerial position.

Oscar Pareja: FC Dallas has signed more youth players than any other MLS team, and it’s all because of Pareja. After serving as an assistant for the US U-17 team, Pareja moved onto run the FCD youth academy, and the results speak for themselves. The FCD U18 team just defeated a Barcelona youth squad at the Dallas Cup. Pareja’s Colombian upbringing combined with American players would result in an interesting style of soccer, and his coaching abilities at the youth level are unquestioned. His biggest knock is unfamiliarity with Europe, where many US-eligible players ply their trade.

Caleb Porter: This is a dream if there ever was one. Widely considered the best manager in the college ranks, Porter would be the ideal candidate for this position. Porter would never leave his Akron gig for this, but it is more than possible for him to juggle both simultaneously, especially because they overlap so well. Year in and year out his Akron teams dominate and he has an eye for talent. Like Pareja, his in-game coaching is no concern.

A number of people will be considered for this position, both inside of the US and out. Some ex-players with some managerial potential are Jesse Marsch, already an assistant for the full national team, Brian McBride and Dave Van den Berg, who have each coached the U-20s on a ad hoc basis at various camps. The USSF may prefer a candidate from outside US Soccer, which wouldn’t be surprising since the position seems to become more high-profile with every cycle. Look for the USSF to hire a coach who favors the 4-3-3 formation. The USSF would not release its official youth coaching curriculum demanding a 4-3-3 only to have the pinnacle of its youth program play something else.

There is no known timetable as of yet to find a new U-20 manager, so it could be quite awhile before an official one is announced.

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