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Berhalter Dismissed as USMNT Coach Following Copa America Exit

Berhalter Dismissed as USMNT Coach Following Copa America Exitillustration

Gregg Berhalter has been dismissed as head coach of the U.S. men's soccer team, just nine days after the squad's first-round elimination from the Copa America, raising doubts about his suitability for the 2026 .

Berhalter's second tenure as coach concluded ten months after his return, where he set ambitious goals for the team, including transforming soccer in the U.S. His record during this period stood at seven wins, six losses, and one draw, contributing to an overall record of 44 wins, 17 losses, and 13 draws.

Sporting director Matt Crocker, who rehired Berhalter, will recommend his replacement. The team's next fixtures are friendlies against Canada and New Zealand in September.

"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.

Crocker and USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone released statements but did not immediately take questions from the media.

Potential candidates to succeed Berhalter include Jurgen Klopp, Thierry Henry, Marcelo Bielsa, Jesse Marsch, Hugo Perez, Pellegrino Matarazzo, David Wagner, Steve Cherundolo, Jim Curtin, Massimiliano Allegri, and . Salary considerations could impact the decision.

Berhalter earned $2,291,136 in 2022, including $900,000 in bonuses for World Cup qualification and reaching the second round. A high-profile men's coach might pressure the USSF to increase the salary of newly appointed women's coach Emma Hayes.

With 23 months remaining before the U.S. hosts the World Cup for the second time, starting on June 12, 2026, in Inglewood, California, competitive matches for the full squad are likely limited to the CONCACAF Nations League.

Berhalter, turning 51 on August 1, was the first American to coach the national team after playing in a World Cup. He was appointed in December 2018 after coaching Sweden's Hammarby (2011-13) and Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew (2013-18).

He guided the U.S. to CONCACAF Nations League titles in 2020, 2023, and 2024, and another with a secondary squad in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup. His players backed him, crediting him for fostering a strong team culture, which influenced Crocker to rehire him despite a domestic violence allegation from decades ago. The Reyna family, upset over Gio Reyna's limited World Cup playing time, brought the allegation to the USSF. A law firm found no legal barriers to rehiring Berhalter.

Critics pointed to the team's lack of success against non-regional opponents and struggles in Central America. The U.S. secured the region's final automatic World Cup berth on goal difference and fielded the second-youngest team in Qatar 2022. The team drew 1-1 with Wales, tied 0-0 with England, and beat Iran 1-0 before losing 3-1 to the Netherlands in the knockout stage.

Discipline issues arose, with defender Sergino Dest receiving a red card for arguing with a referee in Trinidad and Tobago and winger Tim Weah being ejected for striking an opponent during the Panama match.

"Gregg has earned the respect of everyone within our organization and has played a pivotal role in bringing together a young team and moving the program forward,” Crocker said.

U.S. coaches have struggled in a second term. Bruce Arena led the team to the 2002 quarterfinals but failed to advance past the group stage in 2006. Bob Bradley's team reached the 2010 second round, earning him a extension, only to be fired 11 months later after a Gold Cup final loss to Mexico. Jurgen Klinsmann led the team to the 2014 second round but was dismissed after poor 2018 qualifying results. Arena returned, but the U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup after losing in Trinidad and Tobago.

The incoming coach will inherit talents like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams, who have succeeded in Europe, though goalkeepers Matt Turner and Ethan Horvath and Reyna have struggled for playing time with top-tier clubs.

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