Former Arsenal striker and French national team star Thierry Henry is interested in pursuing the vacant U.S. men’s national team head coach position, according to reports.
The role, which has been open since the expiration of Gregg Berhalter’s contract at the conclusion of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has yet to be filled as U.S. Soccer navigates a post-World Cup year of uncertainty.
The U.S. soccer federation confirmed that Berhalter remains a candidate to continue as head coach following their investigation into domestic violence allegations, but as the months drag on and no decision is made, speculation has continued to grow regarding other candidates to take over the job.
Henry currently works as a pundit for CBS Sports in the United States as a key figure in the network’s coverage of UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches. The 45-year-old has managerial experience with head coaching tenures at AS Monaco and CF Montreal, plus a pair of assistant coach stints under Roberto Martinez at the Belgian national team.
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Thierry Henry as USMNT head coach: latest news, reports
According to a report by ESPN on March 16, Thierry Henry has turned down the chance to coach the France women’s national team in order to focus his sights on the currently vacant United States men’s national team position.
The report, which was not written with the byline of a particular journalist, states that Henry is “keen” on the U.S. national team position, but did not go as far as to suggest he is angling for the job.
France Football Federation (FFF) committee member Jean-Michel Aulas publicly stated that Henry will not be taking the position as head women’s team coach, confirming he offered the former Arsenal striker the position but that Henry turned it down.
“I personally asked [Henry] the question, but the response was not positive,” the Olympique Lyon president told Le Figaro. “He was obviously very flattered that he was asked. We did it because we were told he might be interested. But it will not be Thierry Henry. I think he is moving on to other projects.”
That last part about “moving on to other projects” seems to suggest that Henry has another position in mind, which adds to the intrigue and speculation around him gunning for the U.S. role.
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Thierry Henry has turned down the chance to coach the France women’s national team.
Sources have told ESPN that Henry is keen on the vacant USMNT head coach position 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/YdlsqdE2DY
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 16, 2023
U.S. Soccer executives during recent media appearances have hinted that this search could extent through the summer of 2023. They seem quite adamant about first filling the open Sporting Director role, which was vacated after the departure of Earnie Stewart in February. The new Sporting Director would then be charged with hiring the next permanent manager.
Currently, assistant coach Anthony Hudson has taken charge of the national team on an interim basis and will lead the group during the March international fixtures. Hudson may well see that role extend into the summer, even potentially into the 2022 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
What Thierry Henry said about USMNT coaching job
As recently as mid-February, Thierry Henry spoke publicly about the U.S. men’s national team head coaching position.
While serving as a pundit for CBS and their European football coverage, Henry was asked by host Kate Abdo if he would “put your name in the hat” for the USMNT job.
Henry was careful not to speak about the U.S. position directly and his prospects of taking the job, but he made it very clear he not only has interest in the position but is thinking about how to approach the role.
“Would you put your name in the hat?” @Kate_Abdo asks Thierry Henry whether he wants the #USMNT job. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/W7ygBpSfCi
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) February 15, 2023
“Would I throw my name in the hat? First and foremost that’s a tricky one to talk about here. What I can say is obviously, Roberto Martinez went to coach Portugal and I’m not going with him. Being a No.2 is no longer something I want to do. Massive respect for the boss, he gave me an opportunity when no one did, but I want to have a crack [at being a head coach] again.”
Henry would go on to speak about how the U.S. may have to think outside the box to ensure a solid performance at the 2026 World Cup, which the North American nation will host alongside CONCACAF neighbors Canada and Mexico. He brought up South Korea stopping its domestic league for eight months prior to the 2002 World Cup, where they would surprise many and reach the semifinals.
It doesn’t seem like Henry was directly positing that the U.S. pause Major League Soccer to focus on the 2026 World Cup. Instead, in a more general sense, Henry was suggesting that there may be fresh, new ideas needed to put the United States in the best position to succeed at the next FIFA tournament, and he might be someone who could bring that new vision to the federation. It certainly seemed to be as much of a “come get me” plea as one could expect.
MORE: Gregg Berhalter points to striker deficit after World Cup defeat to Netherlands
Would Thierry Henry be a good coach for USMNT?
While an appointment of Thierry Henry would come with significant risk given his inexperience and lack of success to date, there would also be a great deal of potential reward.
First of all, he’s as good a fit as anyone out there. While Henry has connections to the U.S. domestic league having spent a year as Montreal Impact (now CF Montreal) head coach, he wasn’t molded by the league, which is seen by a large portion of the fanbase as a negative quality. He instead has a desirable mix of U.S. domestic knowledge, having played and coached in Major League Soccer, and European tactical influence.
Henry has a wealth of knowledge when it comes coaching players, which he has put on full display during his time as a CBS Sports pundit. The former Arsenal striker consistently puts himself in the spotlight with brilliant analysis of current players, most recently going viral with his astute discussion about the predictability of Manchester City striker Erling Haaland and how he can improve by varying his build-up play while different teammates are on the ball.
“It’s not always about goals, it’s about what you can bring for the team.”
Thierry Henry reveals how Arsene Wenger influenced him and why Erling Haaland is tough to stop but predictable. 👀 pic.twitter.com/V6jnqfaYKr
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) February 14, 2023
There are understandable questions about the lack of achievements at Henry’s various coaching roles to date. While his Montreal season was a mixed success, his first role with Monaco was an unmitigated disaster. Yet one failed job should not make or break a head coach, and if U.S. Soccer feel he has grown since then, it would be reasonable to give him another shot.
Henry would not need to be a tactical genius to succeed as U.S. head coach, as his primary duties instead would include recruitment, scouting, identification, and putting his players in the best position to succeed on and off the field during short international camps. Surrounding himself with smart tactical minds would be essential, and together the staff could still be more than competent in game-plan development.
Henry is clearly a knowledgeable and personable individual, and while there’s a lot riding on this hire given what is to be gained or lost at the 2026 World Cup, the Frenchman would be an excellent choice to lead the United States. He clearly knows what it takes to be both a professional football player at the highest level and how to improve those already at the top, and that wealth of knowledge would be invaluable to the young U.S. squad entering its prime.
MORE: Gregg Berhalter: Contract status and latest updates after World Cup defeat
Thierry Henry managerial, coaching career
Thierry Henry is best known for his time as Arsenal striker, where he blossomed into a legendary player at the popular Premier League club, and as part of a fearsome Barcelona side from 2007 to 2010. Since retiring in 2012, Henry has attempted to build a managerial career but has yet to experience true success at any role.
He began his first coaching job at Arsenal, working with the youth squad in 2015 alongside serving as a pundit for Sky Sports. He earned his UEFA A coaching license and was reportedly offered the Under-18 coaching role at the club by academy director Andries Jonker before that offer was revoked by Arsene Wenger.
He left Arsenal in 2016 to join the Belgian national team as an assistant coach under Roberto Martinez, and Romelu Lukaku said that Henry was “the best thing that happened to me.” The country reached the semifinal of the 2018 FIFA World Cup with Henry on staff.
Henry then accepted his first managerial role, joining AS Monaco in 2018 to replace Leonardo Jardim. He was an inexperienced hire, and with the club battling relegation early in the Ligue 1 season, there was a lot of risk. Henry was unable to rescue the club during his time, eventually departing just months later in January of 2019, with the club sitting 19th in the French top flight. They would secure safety after Henry’s departure.
His next job would materialize in November that year, signing a two-year deal with MLS club Montreal Impact. Henry led the club to a playoff berth in his first season but stepped down from the role to be closer to his family. He has since been open that COVID-19 restrictions in Canada made his job extremely undesirable that season, and he was unable to see his family in England through the entire league campaign.
Henry would rejoin Roberto Martinez at Belgium in May of 2021, coaching through the 2022 World Cup, where Belgium disappointed. That saw Martinez depart the role, and Henry left alongside him, not appointed as part of successor Domenico Tedesco’s staff.
Thierry Henry managerial career
|AS Monaco (FRA)||Oct. 18, 2018 — Jan. 24, 2019||4-5-11|
|Montreal Impact (USA)||Nov. 14, 2019 — Feb. 25, 2021||8-2-13 (9th in East)|