NEW YORK, JAN. 16 -- The U.S. Soccer Federation said today Bob Gansler will be replaced as national team coach if an internationally experienced successor can be found.

Gansler, the team's coach since January 1989, said he is aware of the search and that he would continue with the team until he receives notice he is being replaced.

"If we could find an international, experienced coach, we would make a move," USSF President Alan Rothenberg said today. "If we could improve ourself by hiring a coach with international experience, we would make a move and Bob knows that. As far as any American-based coach, Bob is at the top of the list."

Under Gansler, the team qualified for the World Cup last year for the first time since 1950. But it went 0-3 in the tournament in Italy.

Gansler, 49, was hired by former USSF president Werner Fricker, who intended to keep him on as coach through the 1994 World Cup, the first to be played in the United States. But Fricker was defeated for reelection by Rothenberg in August.

Possible replacements mentioned recently are Bora Milutinovic, a Yugoslavian who coached Mexico in the 1986 World Cup and Costa Rica in the 1990 World Cup, and Eddie Firmani, the former New York Cosmos coach. Firmani coached Kuwait until last August's invasion.

Former West German coach Franz Beckenbauer, who led his team to victory in the 1990 Cup, would be the top choice, but, after at first indicating some interest in the job, recently has refused to consider taking it.

"I don't want to get into names," Rothenberg said.