Gregg Berhalter - US national team - January 27, 2019
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Gregg Berhalter: The United States national team can shock the world in 2026

As the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League slate gets underway, a record 10 US men’s national team-eligible players are rostered on some of Europe’s top teams.

That simple fact has U.S. men's national team head coach Gregg Berhalter aiming big, particularly when it comes to the 2026 FIFA World Cup that’s being co-hosted by the US, Mexico and Canada.

“The good thing is we’re hosting in 2026,” Berhalter said on CBS Sports, “so if you can project out over these next five years, we think we can build a team that can really perform well and potentially shock the world in 2026.”

That last part might raise an eyebrow or two, but the USMNT profile at top European clubs does continue to grow. Look no further than Christian Pulisic donning the No. 10 shirt at Chelsea, Sergino Dest being a star transfer for FC Barcelona and Giovanni Reyna being representing of Borussia Dortmund’s next prized up-and-comers.

The list goes on, leaving Berhalter confident about his team’s future. Qualifying for the 2022 tournament in Qatar comes first, of course, and that’ll further help lay the groundwork as players enter their prime.

“Our first step, our goals as a team – we want to obviously qualify for the World Cup and then we want to perform well at the World Cup,” Berhalter said. “The way we’re looking at this project, it is a long-term project. When you think about how young our team is, we’re going to need that experience playing in a World Cup.”

According to reports, the USMNT will next reconvene in November for friendlies against Australia and Wales. Those matches would be their first since Feb. 1.

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