Gregg Berhalter shouldn’t be coach of the USMNT at the 2026 World Cup

The USMNT’s four-year contract with coach Gregg Berhalter expires at the end of the year, and it is unclear if he will return with the team beginning the 2026 World Cup cycle in a month. After the Netherlands defeated the USMNT 3-1 in the round of 16, Berhalter declared that he “needed time to plan out his next steps.” Although Berhalter has the best winning record of any men’s national team coach to manage more than two games (71%), the team has struggled under his direction, particularly at the World Cup.

Fans have criticized Berhalter’s choices throughout his whole tenure, with every issue coming to light with the defeat to the Netherlands. Berhalter has come under fire for the team’s inability to score goals and his offensive strategy. Despite coming off the bench to score against the Netherlands, Haji Wright was inconsistent and the team as a whole struggled to find the back of the net, scoring only three goals in four games.

Questions have consistently been raised over Berhalter’s overall player selection and his decision to start Jesus Ferreira against the Netherlands, despite the fact that Ferreira didn’t play in the group stage. Ferreira played in just the first half of Saturday’s defeat and had little effect on the game. Berhalter replaced Ferreira with Gio Reyna at halftime. The Borussia Dortmund immediately brought a boost to the USMNT attack with his second appearance of the tournament.

Expectations will be high for whoever the coach is to go through the first round and deeper into the knockout rounds as the United States, along with Canada and Mexico, would likely have a guaranteed spot at the next World Cup in 2026 as hosts. In the meantime, U.S. Soccer is deliberating its next course of action and will likely take the Gio Reyna situation into account when reviewing the 2022 World Cup.

Gregg Berhalter versus Gio Reyna

Reyna nearly missed the World Cup in Qatar due to a lack of effort in practice and during a pre-tournament match against Qatari team Al Gharafa SC. Reyna, 20, played the entire second half of the US team’s final match, a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the round of 16, despite not making a single start for the US in Qatar. Reyna apologized to the entire team for his lack of effort, the sources continued.

The revelation was made following a Tuesday presentation by US manager Gregg Berhalter at the Summit on Moral Leadership of the HOW Institute for Society in New York. Later, Charterworks published his comments in a newsletter, in which he said that the US “had a player who was obviously falling short of expectations both on and off the field. It stood out because it was one of 26 players. We spent several hours as a staff discussing our options for handling this player. The situation was so bad that we were prepared to purchase an airline ticket home.”

Gio Reyna’s playing time, or lack thereof, was closely watched throughout the competition. Jordan Morris was Berhalter’s final substitute in the 1-1 tie against Wales, therefore he was unable to play. Later, Berhalter mentioned “a little bit of tightness” that Reyna had felt following the Al Gharafa scrimmage and expressed his belief that Morris’ “speed and power” could contribute to the team.

Reyna endured 14 months of intermittent ailments, including one to his hamstring, but he declared to the assembled media following the Wales game that he was “100 percent.” Reyna was confronted by coaches and teammates shortly after, and he eventually apologized.

Prior to the England game, former US international Eric Wynalda said that there was “internal conflict” in a Twitter Spaces conversation with the Los Angeles Times. This raised the stakes surrounding Reyna’s playing time. Later, he claimed that Berhalter had instructed Reyna to lie to the media and had lied himself, on his Sirius XM radio show.

Later, Wynalda retracted some of his statements. Reyna played seven minutes in the 0-0 draw with England, was an unused as a substitute in the 1-0 victory over Iran, and got most of his playing time in the second half of the match against the Netherlands.

The Future of Gregg Berhalter

Berhalter has stated how wonderful it would be to have the opportunity to lead the USA at a home World Cup, so it is evident that he was aware how his team’s success in Qatar might affect his job situation. By reaching the knockout phase under Berhalter, the Americans lived up to expectations, but it’s crucial to understand the bigger picture going into the upcoming World Cup cycle.

A number of rising stars on the USMNT squad have the potential to become the nation’s next “Golden Generation.” Does USSF want Berhalter to lead this team for another four years? The United States has a chance to go far with what is perhaps their strongest team of players ever in 2026, which is more than simply a home World Cup.

It can be argued that this team advanced to the round of 16 in Qatar in spite of Berhalter. He does have the draw against England to his credit, but it took Christian Pulisic’s heroics against Iran for the squad advance to the round of 16 and his decisions continue to be dubious. The Americans didn’t exactly breeze through the group stage.

The absence of obvious alternative prospects could be one argument for keeping Berhalter in position. Bob Bradley might possibly be considered, as would Jesse Marsch of Leeds United. A former player who has dabbled in management, Landon Donovan, might make a good choice because he would likely get along better with the younger players.

Rox and Ken discuss who is at fault in the Gio situation and who the USMNT can realistically expect for a coach moving forward.

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