The Concacaf Under-17 championships take place in April, but U.S. Soccer is no closer to hiring a head coach after negotiations with the leading candidate fell apart.
Sources tell Goal that Dave van den Bergh is out of the running to be U.S. under-17 men's national team coach, leaving one of several youth national team head coaching vacancies at U.S. Soccer still open.
A former U.S. under-15 coach, Van den Bergh had recently served as a fill-in coach with the under-17 team during a January training camp in Florida, but negotiations with U.S. Soccer on a permanent appointment ended abruptly.
Sources tell Goal that U.S. Soccer offered Van den Bergh the job after the recent training camp, but pulled the offer after rejecting a counterproposal from the Dutchman.
Van den Bergh declined to comment when contacted by Goal for the story. U.S. under-20 coach and youth technical director Tab Ramos could not be reached for comment. A U.S. Soccer spokesman confirmed to Goal that the U.S. under-17 head coaching position remains vacant, but could not confirm whether or not Van den Bergh was out of the running.
The current U.S. under-17 national team is considered a strong group, featuring standouts like Giovanni Reyna, Gianluca Busio and George Bello, and is a favorite to win the Concacaf championship in April. But the team still doesn't have a coach as the tournament draws closer, and the Under-17 World Cup looms in October.
As for Van den Bergh, the former MLS and Eredivise midfielder is under contract with U.S. Soccer through 2019 and is slated to remain an assistant with the under-20 national team. He is expected to eventually oversee the U.S. under-19 team, though that team isn't expected to convene again until later this year.
U.S. Soccer has a glut of youth national team head coaching vacancies, from U-15 up through to the U-23 head coach position, with Ramos' U-20 position the only one currently formally filled. One source tells Goal part of the delay in filling vacancies has been a negative response to U.S. Soccer requiring all of its coaches to move to Chicago to work out of U.S. Soccer headquarters. U.S. national team head coach Gregg Berhalter and USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart are currently working out of Chicago.
The responsibility for filling the vacant youth national team coaching positions falls to current chief sports development officer Nico Romeijn and recently appointed chief soccer officer Asher Mendelsohn.