USMNT Athletes Are Behind Gregg Berhalter

If anyone is surprised or offended by the news of Gregg Berhalter’s return as coach of the U.S. men’s soccer team, it suggests they haven’t been paying attention. During the team’s six-month period without a coach, numerous players openly expressed their support for Berhalter, without any reservations. Prominent players like Walker Zimmerman, Timothy Weah, and, perhaps most significantly, Christian Pulisic, have all voiced their backing for him.

While the general public may express disdain for Berhalter’s substitution patterns or criticize his management decisions, it ultimately holds little significance. Even certain high-profile parents who may feel entitled and behave as if their child is still playing in an under-9 league, venting their frustrations to the head of the organization, can’t change the reality.

What truly matters is the unwavering belief and admiration the USMNT players have for Berhalter, especially considering the young team’s upcoming participation in the 2026 World Cup on home soil. They see him as more than just a coach; they see him as a visionary with whom they share a strong bond. No matter how loudly the fans may shout or criticize, the players remain resolute in their support for Berhalter.

Last week, when asked about the possibility of Gregg Berhalter’s return, Christian Pulisic expressed his belief that Berhalter should be considered. Pulisic, who is widely regarded as the best player in the USMNT, praised Berhalter for his past achievements and stated that many of his teammates share the same sentiment.

Pulisic’s endorsement carries significant weight, given his exceptional performance on the field. In a recent match against Mexico, he scored two goals in a 3-0 victory, propelling the USMNT to the Nations League finals and causing headaches for El Tri. Pulisic’s contributions have been pivotal in important moments, such as his goal that secured the team’s spot in the knockout rounds of the previous World Cup.

Pulisic’s list of accomplishments is extensive and highlights his exceptional talent. He became the first American to play in a Champions League final, holds the record for the highest transfer fee for an American player, and is the youngest USMNT player to score in a World Cup qualifier, among many other achievements. With Pulisic’s impressive track record, it’s worth questioning who US Soccer could possibly be disregarding to prefer him as a coach.

While Pulisic and his teammates have provided their input on the coaching decision, he made it clear that it is not their responsibility as players to appoint a manager. Their role is to contribute on the field, leaving the decision-making to the appropriate authorities.

It seems that Christian Pulisic’s opinion, along with the sentiments of his teammates, may not hold significant weight within US Soccer. The potential reinstatement of Gregg Berhalter as the USMNT coach was reportedly influenced by the behavior of Claudio and Danielle Reyna, which could have impacted the decision-making process.

According to a report from The Athletic on Thursday night, US Soccer was expected to announce Berhalter’s return as coach, possibly as early as Friday. However, there has been no official comment from US Soccer in response to multiple requests from media outlets, including USA TODAY Sports.

While the USMNT was defeated by the Netherlands in the Round of 16 in Qatar, it’s important to note that the tournament served as a preparation phase for the upcoming World Cup that holds greater significance—the 2026 event, set to take place in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The success of the 2026 World Cup could potentially elevate football to a status comparable to that of the NFL in the United States.

In Qatar, the focus was primarily on providing valuable experience to young players so that they would not be overwhelmed when competing in 2026. While a deep run in the tournament would have been favorable, the main objective was to build a team capable of competing against the best in the world and to capture the attention and support of the American public.

Indeed, the impact of Gregg Berhalter’s tenure as coach cannot be underestimated. He successfully convinced talented players like Yunus Musa, Sergino Dest, Antoine Robinson, and potentially Folarin Balogun to represent the United States, laying a solid foundation for the team’s future. Musah and Balogun, in particular, possess exceptional skills that could elevate a competitive team to the status of world champions.

Additionally, Berhalter played a crucial role in establishing the team’s current culture, fostering a strong sense of camaraderie that further strengthens their performance on the field. Critics may argue that the importance of team culture is exaggerated or easily achieved, but the reality is quite the opposite. Berhalter managed to bring together a diverse group of players, ranging from teenagers to individuals in their 20s and 30s, hailing from various backgrounds and possessing different levels of playing experience. Yet, he successfully transformed them into a closely-knit unit.

Berhalter’s efforts extended beyond the pitch, as he created an environment where players not only enjoyed playing together but also had fun off the field. From engaging in activities like fantasy football, golf, and field trips, he ensured that his players derived as much joy from their camaraderie as they did from their performance on the field. This sense of togetherness has proven to be significant, both in terms of on-field chemistry and off-field relationships.

Consistency is indeed a crucial factor when it comes to the success of a national team. The USMNT has experienced its fair share of coaching changes, particularly with the tumultuous period that led to their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup following Jürgen Klinsmann’s dismissal.

Christian Pulisic, having experienced numerous managerial changes throughout his career, understands the challenges that come with such transitions. However, with the 2026 World Cup drawing closer, it becomes essential to prioritize stability and continuity over drastic changes. Introducing a new coach who aims to overhaul the team’s playing style, alter the personnel, or reshape the team’s structure at this stage could prove detrimental.

It’s worth noting that the speculation surrounding high-profile coaches like Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho was unlikely to materialize. Not because of potential financial implications compared to USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski, as suggested by Charlie Davis, but rather due to the practicality and feasibility of such appointments for both parties involved.

While Gregg Berhalter may not be regarded as the absolute best coach available, there are compelling reasons why he is the right fit for the USMNT at this juncture. With the 2026 World Cup approaching, maintaining stability, building upon the team’s current foundation, and avoiding major disruptions are key factors in preparing for success on the global stage.

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