Who is USMNT coach? BJ Callaghan new men’s USA soccer national team manager for Nations League, Gold Cup
On May 30, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced that USMNT interim head coach Anthony Hudson had departed the position, replaced by assistant BJ Callaghan.
Most U.S. fans will not be familiar with the new man in charge, who has kept a low-profile during his career thus far.
Additionally, the news caught many off guard, as Hudson had become a likable figure in the role with both players and fans, and his sudden departure was a surprising turn of events.
The Sporting News brings you all the necessary information to get caught up on the coaching change, and the current state of the search for a permanent manager.
Who is new USMNT coach BJ Callaghan?
B.J. Callaghan joined U.S. Soccer in 2019, coming over from the Philadelphia Union where he served first as an academy coach before being elevated to an assistant role under Jim Curtin.
He first began with U.S. Soccer as a strategy analyst, but was promoted to assistant coach prior to the summer of 2021 when the USMNT captured both the Nations League and Gold Cup titles. He was also on staff with the U.S. senior side at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where the Americans reached the Round of 16.
“I understand the responsibility of the job and am honored to have the opportunity to build upon the progress this group has made the last four years,” Callaghan said in a statement upon his elevation to interim head coach. “Together, we have built a strong culture and a great understanding of how we want to play, and we expect to continue to build on that progress. Our goal is clear: defend both of our CONCACAF titles.”
Callaghan will take charge for this summer’s CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup tournaments, U.S. Soccer confirmed, unless a permanent hire is made before then, which is believed to be unlikely.
Interestingly for those from the Philadelphia area where Callaghan hails, he is the grandson of Villanova basketball legend Jack Kraft.
Prior to his role with the Union, Callaghan worked for Villanova as an assistant coach, following a stint at St. John’s, and a playing career as a student at Ursinus College.
Callaghan’s first match in charge will be a big one — he will take on Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals on June 15. He will be the 11th U.S. head coach to make his debut against Mexico, and first since Jurgen Klinsmann in 2011. Only one emerged victorious — David Gould in 1934 World Cup qualifying.
1976 – B.J. Callaghan’s first match in charge will be in the Concacaf Nations League vs. Mexico.
— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) May 30, 2023
What happened to Anthony Hudson?
In the official release on May 30, U.S. Soccer confirmed that interim head coach Anthony Hudson would be “departing for a new opportunity,” which necessitated the change.
It was not immediately known what job Anthony Hudson was departing U.S. Soccer for, as the official press release did not state it, nor did any reporting in the immediate aftermath of the coaching change. Reports by Michele Giannone, Keith Costigan of Fox and MLS and Paul Tenorio of The Athletic all pointed Hudson in the direction of the Middle East, but it was not known whether he would be hired by a club or national team.
Eventually, it was announced that Hudson had joined Qatari club Al-Markhiya as its new manager, signing a two-year deal. The club finished seventh in the top flight last year and features a largely Qatari roster with only a few imports in the squad.
Hudson, who was reportedly under contract through August 1, had received overwhelming praise from both media and fans during his six months leading the national team, having initially been tabbed as interim head coach in the aftermath of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which saw then coach Gregg Berhalter’s contract expire.
The 42-year-old Hudson was successful both on and off the field, earning key results in the CONCACAF Nations League in March 2023, as well as overseeing a draw in the Continental Clasico friendly against Mexico.
Leading the team at the start of a new World Cup cycle, Hudson ushered in multiple young players who impressed during his time in charge.
However, Hudson’s larger successes came off the pitch, as he kept a locker room together during a time of significant upheaval and confusion, with much uncertainty around the leadership of the program. Additionally, during Hudson’s time, the U.S. secured the international commitment of several key dual national players, including Folarin Balogun and Alejandro Zendejas, though his role in that recruitment is not clear.
In fact, Hudson was so successful during a time fraught with pitfalls that many fans had argued he should be a candidate for the permanent job, to the point where he was asked multiple times about his candidacy for the position during press conferences — questions which he repeatedly deflected.
Hudson’s quality job while in charge of the USMNT likely led to his increased profile elsewhere, and thus his eventual departure.
— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) May 30, 2023
When will the USMNT hire a permanent head coach?
New U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker has been adamant that this summer is the target date for the permanent hire of a new U.S. national team head coach.
Because they are still sticking to this timeline, the appointment of a new interim head coach was required to take charge of the summer’s competitive fixtures.
As U.S. Soccer is publicly stating that Callaghan will be at the helm for this summer’s CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup matches, which will be played in late June and early July, it’s likely that the hire will come sometime either during those competitions or immediately after.
France and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has been rumored as a potential candidate, though much of the recent speculation points to former RB Leipzig and Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch. Fox Soccer reports that no deal is close with Marsch or any candidate.
“You take Monaco…if you’re Jesse Marsch you can always comeback home to coach the USMNT.” @susannahcollins, @Nicocantor1, @CharlieDavies9, @NotAlexis , and @jennyachiu discuss what the next move should be for Jesse Marsch. 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/dUVQOxwgyn
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 30, 2023