The race to fill one of the most important positions in American soccer is under way, and one of the people being considered for the job is someone U.S. national team fans know very well.
Former U.S. captain and current Atlanta United vice president Carlos Bocanegra is under consideration for the newly-crafted position of general manager of the U.S. men's national team, sources have confirmed to Goal.
Newly-elected U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro and CEO Dan Flynn met on Wednesday to begin the process of identifying candidates for the newly-created position, and sources tell Goal that Bocanegra was one of the first people identified as a contender. The new GM position will handle the responsibility of hiring the next U.S. national team coach and overseeing the direction of the national team program. A similar general manager role is also being created to oversee the U.S. women's national team.
Bocanegra enjoyed an illustrious 15-year playing career as a standout defender, a career that saw him play in MLS, England, Spain, France and Scotland before finishing up back in MLS in 2014. He was also a long-time standout with the U.S. national team, serving as captain and playing in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. He finished his career with 110 caps and 14 goals, the most scored by a defender in U.S. history.
Bocanegra has made a smooth transition into his post-playing career, taking on the role of technical director with Atlanta United, which he helped build into a successful and entertaining expansion team in 2017. The 38-year-old's success as a technical director earned him a promotion to vice president last fall, as well as a new contract through 2022.
It remains unclear whether Bocanegra would leave Atlanta to become GM of the U.S. team he captained just six years ago, but given the importance of the newly-created position, it could be a tough one for Bocanegra to pass up.
Bocanegra is a member of U.S. Soccer's Athletes Council, which effectively swung the U.S. soccer presidential election in Cordeiro's favor when it voted as bloc and chose Cordeiro over favorite Kathy Carter. Hiring Bocanegra for the coveted GM position would be in line with the talk following the election from Athletes Council officials who believed in Cordeiro's intentions of having athletes more involved in key roles within U.S. Soccer.
"Ultimately, he believes in the power of the athlete as well, and empowering athletes going forward," Athletes Council member Stuart Holden said of Cordeiro following Saturday's election. "And you can mark my words, that's something that we're going to hold him accountable (for), for some of the things that he's talked about from the governance, from general manager, from having athletes involved in soccer decisions."
On Tuesday, reports emerged identifying Seattle Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey as a candidate for the USMNT's general manager position, a role that will report directly to Flynn rather than Cordeiro.