Gregg Berhalter Leads USMNT Eager for World Cup Redemption
For the first time in 30 years, the US men’s national soccer team will take part in the World Cup—it’s a time when they are at their best, after a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign in 2017, the program’s worst since 1982.
At this point in his career, Gregg Berhalter is not one to rest on his laurels. He is in his second full year with the USMNT, and now, as he prepares to take over as head coach of the men’s national team, he is as focused as ever on building a winning team to take the World Cup.
The 2017 USMNT didn’t get the tournament they wanted. With four wins, including two in extra time, in the group stage and a tie against Mexico in their final game, they had the better chance of making it, but fell short in a 3-2 defeat against Ghana. In contrast to 2016 where the US were a surprise World Cup participant, they fell to eighth in the final rankings.
It’s not a major concern for Berhalter. As he told FIFA.com: “They could have been in the middle of the pack if not for two things: the [U.S.] Women’s National Soccer Team did great work, and in the Olympics, they played every game and we were just one of the three teams that didn’t make it because we had a bad start and we didn’t go out and play well. It’s a real shame, but it happens every year. We didn’t go out and play well and it was hard to recover. That’s part of the business now—you have to have a strong start to the season.”
With that in mind, the new head coach has emphasized his strategy to build a team capable of qualifying for the knockout stages of the World Cup. “I need to build a team of quality,” Berhalter said. “I think the group stage will show us. We did not have what we needed to advance. We got knocked out by Mexico in a tie. They played well.