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USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter sacked after poor performance at Copa América | USA

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter sacked after poor performance at Copa América | USA

Gregg Berhalter was fired as coach of the U.S. men’s soccer team on Wednesday after his team’s first-round elimination from the Copa America, raising doubts about whether he is the right person to remain in the job at the 2026 World Cup.

Berhalter’s second tenure as head coach was cut short 10 months later after he returned to the bench with high hopes and declared that the team’s goal was to “change soccer in America forever.” In his second term as head coach, the United States won seven games, lost six, and tied once, for a total of 44 wins, 17 losses, and 13 draws.

Head coach Matt Crocker has rehired Berhalter and will make a recommendation on his replacement. The team will play friendlies against Canada and New Zealand in September.

“We are focused 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.

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Jürgen Klopp, Thierry Henry and Marcelo Bielsa, as well as Jesse Marsch, Hugo Pérez, Pellegrino Matarazzo, David Wagner, Steve Cherundolo, Jim Curtain, Massimiliano Allegri and Mauricio Pochettino are thought to be among the candidates to replace Berhalter.

But salary could be an issue. Berhalter earned $2.2 million in 2022, including $900,000 in bonuses for the Americans qualifying for the World Cup and reaching the second round. A top men’s coach could pressure U.S. Soccer to increase the salary of newly hired women’s coach Emma Hayes.

The World Cup is just 23 months away from coming to the United States for the second time, with the Americans set to play their opening match in Inglewood, California, on June 12, 2026. Until then, the only competitive matches with a full player pool will likely be in the Concacaf Nations League.

Berhalter became the first American to coach the national team after playing for the team in the World Cup. He was hired to coach the United States in December 2018 after stints with Sweden’s Hammarby (2011–13) and Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew (2013–18).

He led the U.S. to Concacaf Nations League titles in 2020, 2023 and 2024 and a title with the B team in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. His players have strongly supported Berhalter, saying he has created a culture that binds the group together.

That support led Crocker to rehire Berhalter five months after his first contract expired amid an investigation into a decades-old domestic violence allegation that had come to the attention of the Reyna family, who were upset that Berhalter had limited Gio Reyna’s playing time at the World Cup. A law firm retained by U.S. Soccer said there were no legal impediments to bringing Berhalter back.

Critics have cited poor performance against teams outside the region and poor performance away from home against Central American opponents. Under Berhalter, the United States has failed to defeat a team ranked in the top 25 in FIFA outside of Concacaf.

The U.S. won the region’s final automatic World Cup berth on goal difference and had the second-youngest team at the 2022 tournament in Qatar. The U.S. squandered a second-half lead with a 1-1 draw with Wales, drew 0-0 with England and beat Iran 1-0 to reach the knockout stage, where the U.S. played poorly in a 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands.

Players have shown a lack of discipline: defender Sergiño Dest was shown a red card for arguing with the referee in Trinidad and Tobago last November, and winger Tim Weah was shown a red card against Panama in a key Copa match America punching its opponent.

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

Overall, U.S. coaches have not fared well in a second cycle. Bruce Arena took the team to the quarterfinals in 2002, its best since 1930, then failed to advance past the group stage in 2006. Bob Bradley’s team reached the second round in 2010, earning him a four-year contract extension, but U.S. Soccer fired him 11 months later after the U.S. squandered a two-goal lead and lost to Mexico in the Concacaf Gold Cup final.

Jürgen Klinsmann replaced Bradley and led the team to the second round of the 2014 World Cup, then was fired after opening the final round of the 2018 qualifiers with a 2–1 home defeat to Mexico and a 4–0 defeat to Costa Rica. Arena returned and the United States lost to Trinidad and Tobago on the final day of qualifying, ending a streak of seven consecutive World Cup appearances.

The new manager has inherited players such as Christian Pulisic (Milan), Weston McKennie (Juventus) and Tyler Adams (Bournemouth) who have been successful at European clubs, while goalkeepers Matt Turner (Nottingham Forest) and Ethan Horvath (Cardiff) and Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) have failed to make it to the top-flight.