UPDATE: US Soccer has confirmed that Jurgen Klinsmann is the new head coach of the MNT.
US Men's National Team Coach Bob Bradley has been "relieved of his duties", according to a statement from the US Soccer Federation -- a statement that will leave many US soccer fans themselves relieved. While Bradley's performance is open to plenty of debate, it would be hard for anyone to argue that he hadn't taken this team as far as he could, and when that's the case, usually it's the coach, rather than anybody else, that has to face the music.
I, for one, won't be too sad to see him go. Despite the protestations of his little brother, Bradley's achievements haven't been all that great. Reaching the final of the Gold Cup shouldn't be a key metric for the US -- it's sort of like feeling really good about yourself because you remembered to put pants on before you left the house. The 2010 World Cup was a disappointment, particularly in light of the way the team played at the 2009 Confederations Cup, and this year's Gold Cup performance was pretty dismal. Indeed, it was probably the loss to Panama and unconvincing wins over regional minnows that sealed Bradley's fate.
The federation says it will have a "further announcement" tomorrow, making it sound as if they waited to get a candidate lined up before giving Bob the heave-ho. Most of the speculation is focusing on Jurgen Klinsmann as Bradley's replacement, with several other names popping up. Here's a quick rundown on the possibilities:
Jurgen Klinsmann -- Klinsmann, who lives in California, was close to taking the job before Bradley in 2006, but the deal repeatedly broke down because USSF boss Sunil Gulati balked at giving the German as much control over development and other matters as he wanted. Klinsmann has been pretty vocal in his criticism of development in the US, and it would be a little surprising to see Gulati willing to bend to his demands.
Marcello Lippi - Andres Cantor (Mr. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!) tweeted that there es un rumor fuerte linking the former Italy and Juventus coach to the job. He's been out of work for a year since stepping down as Italy coach, and while I think it would be pretty interesting for him to take charge given his history of success, I have a hard time seeing it.
Sigi Schmid - the Seattle Sounders (in the MLS) coach has been one of the most successful domestic coaches for a long time, has coached the national under-20 team before, and is known for finding and working with young talent. He doesn't sound very interested, though, and I don't see him getting the call at this point.
Jason Kreis - another MLS manager, from Real Salt Lake, and a former USMNT player. He's doing good things at RSL, but his lack of experience should preclude him from the national team job, though it could be one he gets down the line.
Marco Bielsa - currently at Athletic Bilbao in Spain, but previously coach of Chile and Argentina. His name keeps popping up around this job, and I'm not sure why, apart from him having international pedigree and the fact that he's currently at a "small" club. Sven Goran Eriksson, anybody?
Guus Hiddink - currently in charge of Turkey, who's in the middle of a European Championship qualification campaign, and depending on who you believe, resisted overtures from Chelsea to rejoin them this summer. Have a hard time seeing this happen, too.
Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez, Louis van Gaal - Famous European manager! Currently unemployed! Little or no international experience or success!
Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl has a quote from an "insider" saying that we "won't be surprised" by the name of the new coach. That's fueling the Klinsmann thoughts, but it could be interpreted in a lot of ways... such as the return of Bruce Arena.
Out of all of these names, I'm not sure exactly who I'd prefer. It's a tough role to fill with a lot of demands that differ significantly from an established soccer power, so I'm not certain that signing a big name like Lippi or Hiddink will offer the level of improvement that many will expect. That said, I think going to the other end of the spectrum to somebody like Jason Kreis isn't the solution either. I guess we'll find out tomorrow, but for now, my money is on Klinsmann.