US soccer fires men’s coach Berhalter after Copa exit

By Ronald Blum | Associated Press

NEW YORK — Gregg Berhalter was fired 10 months into his second stint as U.S. men’s soccer coach, leaving the Americans searching for a leader less than two years before they host the World Cup.

Berhalter was dismissed Wednesday, nine days after his team’s first-round exit from the Copa America flamed doubts he was the right person to remain in charge.

“The Copa America result is extremely disappointing and I take full responsibility for our performance,” Berhalter said in a statement. “Our approach and process was always focused on the 2026 World Cup and I remain confident that this group will be one of the great stories in 2026.”

After opening the Copa America with a 2-0 win over Bolivia, the U.S. lost to Panama 2-1 while playing most of the match a man short due to Tim Weah’s ejection, then were eliminated with a 2-1 defeat to Uruguay. The U.S. had seven wins, six losses and one draw in his second stint, leaving his overall record at 44 wins, 17 losses and 13 draws.

When Berhalter returned to the bench last September, he proclaimed the team’s goal was “to change soccer in America forever.” If that is to happen, it will be without him.

Sporting director Matt Crocker rehired Berhalter and also will make the recommendation on his replacement. The team next plays in September friendlies against Canada and New Zealand.

USSF spokesman Neil Buethe would not make Crocker available to answer questions from The Associated Press.

“Our immediate focus is on finding a coach who can maximize our potential as we continue to prepare for the 2026 World Cup, and we have already begun our search process,” Crocker said in a statement.

USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone also issued a statement. She did not immediately respond to a text message seeking additional comment.

Jürgen Klopp, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Marcelo Bielsa are among those being speculated about as candidates to replace Berhalter, along with Jesse Marsch, Hugo Pérez, Pellegrino Matarazzo, David Wagner, Steve Cherundolo, Jim Curtain, Massimiliano Allegri and Mauricio Pochettino.

Salary could be an issue.

Berhalter earned $2,291,136 in 2022, including $900,000 in bonuses for the Americans qualifying for the World Cup and reaching the second round. A top-level men’s coach could put pressure on the USSF to increase the salary of newly hired women’s coach Emma Hayes.

Just 23 months remain before the World Cup comes to the United States for the second time and the Americans play their opener at Inglewood, California, on June 12, 2026. The only competitive matches with the full player pool before then likely will be in the CONCACAF Nations League.

Berhalter, who turns 51 on Aug. 1, was the first American to coach the national team after playing for the team at a World Cup. He was hired to coach the U.S. in December 2018 after stints with Sweden’s Hammarby (2011-13) and Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew (2013-18).

“I want to thank the U.S. Soccer Federation for entrusting me to lead this team for the past five years,” …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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