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U.S. Soccer fires coach Gregg Berhalter after Copa América collapse

U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter looks across the field during a match.
U.S. men’s soccer coach Gregg Berhalter was fired after the team’s poor Copa América performance.
(Andre Penner / Associated Press)
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With the 2026 World Cup less than two years away, U.S. Soccer is starting over after firing coach Gregg Berhalter on Wednesday.

“I want to thank Gregg for his hard work and dedication to U.S. Soccer and our Men’s National Team,” U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement announcing the move. “We are now focused on working with our Sporting Director Matt Crocker and leveraging his experience at the highest levels of the sport to ensure we find the right person to lead the USMNT into a new era of on-field success.”

Berhalter was hired in December 2018, 14 months after the U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup, and led the team to a Gold Cup championship, two CONCACAF Nations League titles and to the round of 16 in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. With a record of 44-15-13, he leaves with the best winning percentage of any coach who worked more than seven matches with the national team.

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But he was undone by a poor performance in this summer’s Copa América, which the U.S. exited in the group stage after losing to Panama and Uruguay. That marked the first time in 20 global or continental tournaments the U.S. has hosted that the national team has gone out in the group stage. It was also the first time a Copa América host failed to advance.

After a dismal Copa América run, U.S. Soccer must decide whether to fire coach Gregg Berhalter as it prepares to host the 2026 World Cup.

July 2, 2024

Only Bruce Arena (81) and Jurgen Klinsmann (55) won more games with the U.S. than Berhalter, but the team has struggled lately, winning three of its last nine games dating to last November. So after the 1-0 loss to Uruguay last week, Crocker issued a statement promising a thorough examination of the national team program.

“We must do better,” he said. “We will be conducting a comprehensive review of our performance in Copa América and how best to improve the team and results as we look towards the 2026 World Cup.”

Berhalter, a former Galaxy player and assistant coach and the only former World Cup player to coach the U.S. in the tournament, was popular in the locker room and several of his players voiced their support for the coach after the Copa América debacle.

“I see no issue with the direction we’re heading,” goalkeeper Matt Turner said. “When you have a fight like that on the pitch in every single game we’re in in this tournament, it speaks volumes to how the manager prepares us.”

The U.S. is eliminated from Copa América after a controversial goal by Mathías Olivera sends Uruguay to a 1-0 victory.

July 1, 2024

Midfielder Weston McKennie, meanwhile, said players would “run through a brick wall” for Berhalter. What they apparently couldn’t do for him, however, was score a goal. The U.S. was held to one or fewer goals during seven of their past nine games.

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And that was enough for some players to realize change was needed.

“Look, we have a good relationship with him,” captain Christian Pulisic said after the loss to Uruguay. “Whatever the next step looks like, it’s not my job to decide.”

Berhalter survived an earlier challenge to his job after former teammate Claudio Reyna and his wife, Danielle, upset over Berhalter’s treatment of their son Gio during the 2022 World Cup, informed U.S. Soccer of a 30-year-old physical confrontation between Berhalter and the woman who would become his wife.

A report commissioned by U.S. Soccer cleared Gregg Berhalter of any infractions and highlighted more interference by Gio Reyna’s parents.

March 13, 2023

The federation launched a months-long investigation into the incident before clearing Berhalter in the spring of 2023. Crocker then rehired him 13 months ago for the current World Cup cycle.

The U.S. has gone 7-6-1 under Berhalter since then.

The team Berhalter inherited in 2018, one built largely by former Galaxy assistant Dave Sarachan, the interim U.S. coach, was among the youngest in national team history. During his year in charge, Sarachan gave a record 23 players — including McKennie, Tyler Adams, Tim Weah, Zack Steffen and Antonee Robinson — their national team debuts along with the likes of Pulisic.

To that Berhalter added Reyna, Sergiño Dest, Yunus Musah, Haji Wright and Folarin Balogun. Twenty of the 23 players Berhalter called up for the Copa América play in Europe, a record for a U.S. national team.

Christian Pulisic says the U.S. men’s national soccer team is trying to deal with the ongoing soap opera involving coach Gregg Berhalter.

June 6, 2023

And at first that team performed under Berhalter, losing just twice in 22 games in 2021, then reaching the round of 16 in the World Cup a year later. But aside from Mexico — which also exited the Copa América after three games — the U.S. has beaten just one team ranked inside the top 20 since 2015 and is 0-5-5 in the Berhalter era against non-Mexican teams ranked in the top 15 by FIFA.

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There was no word Wednesday on a successor although former Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp, current LAFC manager Steve Cherundolo and Thierry Henry, manager of France’s Olympic team, have been mentioned.

“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.

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