USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter fired after Copa America exit


U.S. Soccer has fired U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter after a disappointing group-stage exit from this summer’s Copa América.

Berhalter, 50, was rehired last summer after leading the U.S. to the knockout stage of the 2022 World Cup. The U.S. won two CONCACAF Nations League finals and one Gold Cup under Berhalter, who finished with an 44-17-13 record in five years as coach.

“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.

“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.”

“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 as part of the federation’s announcement.

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The U.S. team went into the Copa América with huge hopes to build momentum ahead of the 2026 World Cup. The Americans were expected to emerge from a group that included CONMEBOL minnow Bolivia, CONCACAF rival Panama and tournament heavyweight Uruguay. The U.S. downed Bolivia, 2-0, in the opening group stage game, but fell to Panama, 2-1, in the second game after Tim Weah was red carded in the 18th minute. A 1-0 loss to Uruguay in the group finale eliminated the U.S. from the competition.

The U.S. is the first host country of the Copa América since the tournament went to a single host country in 1987 to be eliminated in the group stage.

After the tournament, Crocker issued a statement saying, “Our tournament performance fell short of our expectations. We must do better. We will be conducting a comprehensive review of our performance in Copa America and how best to improve the team and results as we look towards the 2026 World Cup.” That review took approximately nine days to complete, and in the end Crocker decided to part ways with the coach he brought back only one year ago.

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Berhalter leaves the USMNT (John Dorton/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

The question now pivots to where Crocker will look to replace Berhalter. While fans took to social media to hope for former Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, that seems more fantasy than reality. There could be some intriguing names out there for the U.S. to chase, including Patrick Vieira, who coached in MLS with NYCFC and is now at Strasbourg in France’s Ligue 1; England manager Gareth Southgate, whose team is in the European Championship semifinals, and former Spurs, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino.

“I think now we’re in a better place to have much more of a targeted search where I’ll be more inclined to go hard and go early with specific candidates that I feel meet the criteria that we’re looking for,” Crocker said in an interview with a small group of reporters on Wednesday. He said the aim is to have a coach in place in time for the September window. He has a contingency plan in place, he said, if that isn’t possible, but the plan is to aggressively go after candidates with that goal in mind.

Crocker said he spoke with the heads of all departments within the men’s national team program, as well as the player leadership group to inform them of the announcement.

When asked why he determined Berhalter was no longer the right voice to lead the program forward, he pointed to results as the main factor. “Five years is a long time and there’s been a lot of building blocks that have been put in place,” Crocker said.

“It was a very, very young group originally and there has been progress made, but now is the time to turn that progress into winning. So when I specifically looked at the results in Copa América — and we could all turn around and make excuses that I’m not going to make around certain decisions that didn’t go our way in that tournament — but ultimately we needed to have found a way to win. We did have some clear benchmarks of where we wanted to get to in that tournament, and we didn’t achieve that. Ultimately that had a significant weight on my decision.”

Berhalter’s initial contract with the U.S. ran through the end of 2022. Berhalter led the U.S. through the last cycle, qualified for the World Cup after the U.S. missed the tournament in 2018, and the team advanced to the round of 16 before falling to the Netherlands

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Berhalter’s return came as a surprise to some considering the circumstances of his departure. While the U.S. performance in Qatar was largely praised Berhalter’s contract was allowed to expire after the World Cup in part because of issues with one of the team’s young stars. Winger Gio Reyna was nearly sent home from the World Cup due to his behavior after being informed he would not be a starter in the opening game against Wales. Reyna’s lack of effort in subsequent training sessions nearly led to his dismissal from the team, but Berhalter opted to keep him in Qatar.

After the tournament, however, he spoke about those issues without naming Reyna during the Q&A portion of a leadership conference that was operating under Chatham House rules, which typically meant any comments were off the record. Those comments were published, however, and The Athletic reported that Reyna was the player about whom Berhalter spoke.

After those stories, Reyna’s parents, former U.S. national players Claudio and Danielle Reyna, longtime friends of Berhalter and his wife, Rosalind Berhalter, reported to former U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart an incident from 30 years prior in which Berhalter kicked Rosalind during an argument when the two were freshmen at the University of North Carolina.

That prompted a U.S. Soccer investigation. The independent investigation eventually found that Berhalter was cleared to be re-hired by U.S. Soccer.

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Berhlater’s relationship with Reyna sparked an investigation (ANP via Getty Images)

The U.S. struggled over the past year since Berhalter returned, however.

They lost to Germany in a friendly in October 2023, fell to Trinidad and Tobago on the road in the Nations League in November 2023, and then needed a late goal and extra time to salvage a win over Jamaica in the Nations League semifinal in March — though they won the tournament with a 2-0 victory over rival Mexico. A 5-1 friendly loss to Colombia ahead of the Copa América set off alarm bells, and though the U.S. bounced back with a 0-0 draw against Brazil, the Copa results fell far short of expectations.

In the end, the U.S. lost six of the 14 games under Berhalter since he returned to the sidelines in September 2023.

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The win over Bolivia was Berhalter’s 44th win as U.S. manager, moving him past Bob Bradley into sole possession of third all-time. He trails only Bruce Arena (81 wins/148 games) and Jurgen Klinsmann (55 wins/98 games). Berhalter finished with a 29-9-7 record in 45 matches in official competition.

After his side’s elimination from the Copa, Berhalter said: “We know we’re capable of more and in this tournament we didn’t show it, it’s as simple as that. We look at the stage with the fans and the high level of competition and we should have done better. We’ll do a review and figure out what went wrong but it’s an empty feeling for now for sure.”

Asked by The Athletic if he still believed he was the right man and voice to lead the group, Berhalter replied: “Yes.”

Captain Christian Pulisic, who scored in the opening win over Bolivia said the team needed to find a way to rebound after the tournament.

“It’s about getting some rest, regrouping and finding an identity again,” he said.

That identity will now be built by a new manager.

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(Top photo: Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)





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