After weeks of rumors and reports, the news became official on Sunday: Columbus Crew SC's Gregg Berhalter will take over as the next head coach of the US men’s national team, becoming the first USMNT head coach to have played in a World Cup for the US.
“This is a tremendous honor,” Berhalter said in a U.S. Soccer statement. “Having played for the national team, I know what it means to represent our country. I believe in our players and our program, and together we will work to build something special and develop a team that will make our supporters proud.”
USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart selected the 45-year-old Berhalter at the end of a search process he oversaw and the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors officially ratified the appointment by a unanimous vote on December 1.
“After a very thorough process, I am absolutely convinced Gregg is the right man to lead the National Team program moving forward," Stewart said in the same U.S. Soccer statement. "He ticks all the boxes with his background as a person, a successful coach and an accomplished former international player.”
The USMNT had been without a permanent head coach since Oct. 13, 2017, when Bruce Arena resigned from the post after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Dave Sarachan was named interim manager on Oct. 24, 2017 and served in the role for more than a year.
In five seasons at the helm of Columbus as head coach and sporting director, Berhalter navigated the team to the playoffs four times, including a run to the 2015 MLS Cup final. Berhalter installed a playing style nearly as distinct as the Crew SC's yellow kits, focused on possession-based soccer with a defensive structure that was difficult to break down.
After stops in the Netherlands, England and Germany, Berhalter finished his 18-year playing career with the LA Galaxy and was a player-assistant coach in 2011. He immediately swapped his cleats for a clipboard following his retirement as he was appointed manager of Swedish club Hammarby in December, 2011. He inherited a side that finished 12th the year prior and led the club to a fourth-place finish the next year. He was only at Hammarby one more season, but he wasn't out of a job long before becoming head coach and sporting director of Crew SC in November 2013.
Berhalter, who holds a U.S. Soccer Pro License and a UEFA "A" license, made 44 appearances for the US men's national team, featuring in the 2002 World Cup and as an unused squad member four years later at the 2006 World Cup.
In 12 matches as interim boss, Sarachan compiled a 3W-5L-4D record while transitioning to a much younger core of players in the aftermath of the disappointment in Trinidad & Tobago.