US Soccer bringing back Men’s coach Gregg Berhalter is low risk; could it present high rewards?

On Friday, the United States men’s soccer team announced that former manager Gregg Berhalter will return to his position, and lead the USMNT through to the 2026 World Cup. The 49-year-old led the United States to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, advancing to the knockout stages of the tournament, but then falling in the Round of 16 to the Netherlands.

Berhalter is back

Team USA celebrates the victory during the FIFA World Cup match USA v Iran on November 29, 2022 in Al Thumama, Qatar. (Photo by JB Autissier/Panoramic/Icon Sportswire) ****NO AGENTS—NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY****

Berhalter has been successful during his tenure as the United States manager, winning the 2021 Concacaf Nations League and the 2021 Gold Cup as well. He also has the best winning percentage among all USMNT head coaches, with a percentage of .717 (a record of 37-11-12). But even though the credentials and the stats line up for Berhalter, there are still some questions about this hire all around. 

The Questions

As stated previously, the rehire of Gregg Berhalter as USMNT manager brings up some questions for both the US Soccer Federation and the team in general. To start off, there are some players who are usual starters and substitutes in the main USMNT squad who might not get called up or see playing time anymore.

The first player that could suffer is Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Giovanni Reyna. Reyna did not see much playing time during the 2022 World Cup, leading to some questions from the US supporters, as Reyna is one of the top talents on the squad. His exclusion from playing time led to his parents, Claudio and Danielle Reyna telling the USSF about a domestic violence incident that involved Berhalter from earlier in his life.

The Federation completed an investigation into the matter and decided that Berhalter did not withhold any information about the incident, providing him the opportunity to regain the position of manager. While Gio Reyna had nothing to do with the situation that occurred, the relationship between the Reynas and the Berhalters might be tainted, leaving Gregg to not call Gio up or play him as much. 

Another player that might not be happy with Gregg Berhalter coming back would be striker Ricardo Pepi. Berhalter decided not to call Pepi up to the 2022 World Cup roster, and Pepi hung up the phone call right after he heard the news. The striker depth for the US was not that deep for the World Cup, so Ricardo was obviously upset that he was left off the roster. Pepi said the following regarding the situation: 

“I just couldn’t believe it – I called my agent immediately and then I called my dad. They thought I was playing with them. It was something that I was shocked about, to be honest. I use every situation and every situation like this is always going to make me hungry.”  

Berhalter has a lot of work to do to regain the trust of these players, and that will be an important factor in whether or not his second term as manager will be successful. Reyna and Pepi are showing how important they are to the USMNT squad, so the USMNT manager will want to get this situation fixed as soon as possible. 

The Positives

While a majority of USMNT supporters are not happy with the rehiring of Berhalter as manager, there are some who are happy with the hire and they do have their reasons. To start off, Berhalter has been one of the most successful managers in USMNT history. He currently has the best winning percentage as the USMNT manager, he won both the Nations League and the Gold Cup in the same year, and he even was able to beat Mexico three times in a year, which was a feat that no other US manager was able to do.

He also guided the USMNT to the Round of 16 in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, after they did not even qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Berhalter has accomplished success as manager of the United States, and people wanted to see him back because of this. 

Another reason that Berhalter coming back is a positive for the USMNT is the fact that a majority of the players were happy with him returning. While there are a select few who are not happy with the news, there is a majority who are happy with him returning. A lot of the core members of the team developed well under Berhalter’s reign, so they will look to continue to develop as he comes back as manager. 

All in all, the rehiring of Gregg Berhalter as USMNT manager is definitely one that is going to raise some eyebrows around the world of soccer, but there could be an argument that it is a positive and negative thing. The United States is entering a key cycle for the development of the team, especially with the 2026 World Cup being hosted in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Whether Berhalter will be able to get the most out of the team is unknown, but we will see throughout the next three to four years.

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Mandatory Credit: JB Autissier/Panoramic/Icon Sportswire