Brad Friedel and Gregg Berhalter — April 21, 2018
USA Today Sports Images

Former USMNT players praise Berhalter, who "ticks all the boxes" as a coach

Gregg Berhalter is the right man for the job.

At least that’s the strong opinion of several of his former US men's national team teammates, who vociferously backed Berhalter as the new USMNT head coach.

“As I got to know him through the national team and the Galaxy,  you could tell quickly he was someone who was going to be a very good coach,” USMNT legend Landon Donovan told “He understood the game, he studied the game, he talked about the game and he wanted to learn about the game. He’s as bright as they come in U.S. Soccer circles.”

Donovan was among five former players who gave statements to, joining Claudio Reyna, Kasey Keller, Eddie Lewis and Brad Friedel. All talked in similar terms about Berhalter’s impressive knowledge and leadership as both a player and a coach.

“I think without a doubt players will respond to him because of the intensity and energy he will bring,” said Reyna, New York City FC’s sporting director. “Players love the level of information and preparation he provides.”

Reyna, a four-time World Cup veteran and former USMNT captain added: “Even though he didn’t wear the armband, he acted as a captain in terms of how he supported his teammates. He became the voice of sharing ideas and thoughts, and was always someone I spoke to about how we could play better and ways we could exploit our opponents.”

Keller, another four-time World Cup veteran and current ESPN analyst, pointed to the fact that Berhalter “ticks all the boxes” because of his playing and coaching experiences in both MLS and Europe. And Lewis praised his former teammate’s “intensity, tactical knowledge and professionalism as a player.”

Meanwhile, Friedel, who got to coach against Berhalter this year (pictured above), was most impressed with how well he implemented a style of play in Columbus over the past five years as he guided Crew SC to four MLS Cup Playoffs berths.

“With all the progress of soccer in the United States and the increased maturity and sophistication of the players and the leagues, I think it’s important to have a coach who knows the American player and the American system,” the New England Revolution coach said. “Gregg has certainly demonstrated that.”