The twists and turns of the US men’s national team’s head coaching search have returned to their point of origin: U.S. Soccer announced Friday that Gregg Berhalter is back in charge of the program.
The development comes six months after Berhalter steered the USMNT to a Round of 16 finish at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, after which his contract expired. During his first stint, they also won Concacaf Gold Cup and Concacaf Nations League titles in 2021. Berhalter returns with a 37W-11L-12D record while leading the Yanks.
The USMNT’s search was led by new sporting director Matt Crocker and arrives at a critically important juncture – before the country hosts the 2024 Copa América (must qualify) and the 2026 World Cup (auto-qualified). Originally, Crocker said the USMNT would appoint a manager by the end of summer.
“When I started this search, my focus was on finding someone with the right vision to take this program to new heights in 2026,” Crocker said in an official statement. “Gregg has that vision, as well as the experience and growth mindset on and off the field to move this team forward.
"Appointing the right head coach for a national team is a crucial decision that reflects U.S. Soccer’s identity and lays the foundation to grow soccer across the country for years to come. I am confident that Gregg is the right person for the job and looking forward to working in partnership with him.”
The news originally broke Thursday evening as the USMNT secured a 3-0 win over arch-rival Mexico in the Concacaf Nations League semifinals, leading to a stunning mixture of real-time reporting, live-broadcast commentary and social media reactions.
Berhalter’s name was linked to coach openings in Europe and Mexico in recent days as well, while former MLS and Premier League managers Jesse Marsch and Patrick Vieira were reportedly part of a wide pool of candidates Crocker interviewed. Prominent USMNT players such as Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah had voiced support for Berhalter building off what they’d accomplished during the ‘22 World Cup cycle.
Ultimately, what’s old is new again.
“I want to thank Matt, and the entire U.S. Soccer Federation, for the trust they’ve placed in me,” Berhalter after Friday's announcement. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to build on our achievements at the World Cup and to contribute to this exciting time for soccer in our country. The entire group of players and staff have worked incredibly hard to establish our identity on and off the field. We look forward to continuing our journey together to make our fans and our nation proud.”
After the World Cup, much of the USMNT discourse surrounded Berhalter and an off-field saga related to the Reyna family. U.S. Soccer launched an investigation that had its findings released in March, ultimately keeping Berhalter in contention.
Over the last half-year, the USMNT have been led by two different interim coaches: Anthony Hudson and B.J. Callaghan. Hudson, a former Colorado Rapids head coach, left in late May. From there, Callaghan (ex-Philadelphia Union assistant) was appointed to oversee the USMNT’s Nations League and Gold Cup title defenses. They were both assistants on Berhalter’s previous coaching staff.
Berhalter, 51, originally took over the USMNT in December 2018 after serving as the Columbus Crew’s head coach for the 2014-18 MLS seasons. The former USMNT defender also played for the LA Galaxy in 2009-11 as his playing career wound down.
During the previous World Cup cycle, Berhalter brought in a new generation of players and helped secure several high-profile dual national recruits. Former FC Dallas striker Ricardo Pepi, Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah and FC Barcelona defender Sergiño Dest stand out in that regard.
Berhalter, though divisive among some sections of the USMNT fanbase, is widely hailed for instituting a player-led culture. His front-foot playing style produced positive returns as well. The real test will now be how the roster's core continues growing and if the USMNT can get results against higher-level opponents.