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U.S. Soccer Fires Men’s Coach Gregg Berhalter: ‘We Must Do Better’

United States v Uruguay - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024

U.S. men’s national soccer coach Gregg Berhalter was fired after his team’s early exit from the Copa América tournament on July 1.

The 1-0 loss to Uruguay in Kansas City, Missouri, particularly stung because the U.S. was hosting the tournament, which is usually held in South America. It was the first time the host nation has ever failed to advance to the knockout stage since the format was introduced in 1975.

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“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,” said U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker in a statement.

Fox Sports first reported the firing.

Former USMNT Manager Gregg Berhalter releases a statement

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 10, 2024

The U.S. is preparing to co-host the 2026 World Cup with Mexico and Canada. It will be looking to showcase the results of a years-long effort to bring the quality of U.S. soccer to the level of the best teams in Europe and South America. The U.S. has advanced past the round of 16 only once in the World Cup’s modern form, earning a quarterfinal berth in 2002.

Berhalter, 50, drew heavy criticism during his tenure at the helm of the men’s side in his two stints since 2018. In addition to underwhelming tournament performances, including multiple failures of his sides to win in the Concacaf Gold Cup and the North American continental tournament, he has also been blasted for poor tactics and weak leadership. 

The latter was highlighted most recently by an incident during the then-scoreless match with Uruguay where he appeared to encourage his team by informing them that they would still qualify for the next round if results held because Panama and Bolivia, the other two members of their group, were tied in the other match. Uruguay later scored, and the U.S. was eliminated.

While defending a dangerous set piece, Gregg Berhalter made sure to tell his team Bolivia had tied Panama 1-1, which meant the USMNT would be advancing. Seconds later, Uruguay took the lead and the U.S. fell down to third in the group.

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 2, 2024

When asked at the post-match press conference if he was still the right man for the job, Berhalter said, “Yes.” 

But U.S. Soccer disagreed, dismissing Berhalter just over a year after rehiring him to run the team.

A good performance from the American side, which boasts players with extensive European club experience like Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, was expected to help boost Copa América ticket revenue for knockout-stage games the team participated in. It was also hoped that potential marquee U.S. matchups against the likes of Brazil and Argentina could boost viewership of the tournament in a key market for the global growth of soccer.

Berhalter originally took over in 2018, but his contract was allowed to expire at the end of 2022 and a pair of interim managers took over in his absence. He was rehired in June 2023, with Crocker at the time citing his “vision, as well as the experience and growth mindset on and off the field” as the rationale behind the decision.

Since then, Crocker has changed his tune, expressing disappointment in the team’s performance.

“We must do better,” he said in a statement after the Uruguay match.

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