If USA soccer moves on from Gregg Berhalter, who should be the coaching candidates to replace him?

If USA soccer moves on from Gregg Berhalter, who should be the coaching candidates to replace him?

After getting knocked out of Copa America in the group stage following a 1-0 loss to Uruguay, the United States have become the first host nation to not advance to the knockout stage of Copa America, reaching a crossroads as a federation. Chants of “Fire Gregg” rang out at Arrowhead Stadium following the loss as patience is running out among the fanbase following regression after the 2022 World Cup under manager Gregg Berhalter. 

In his post-match press conference, Berhalter mentioned that there will be a review of the performance at the tournament and what needs to change going forward, but he also clarified it’s not his decision if he’s around for the review. U.S. Soccer technical director Matt Crocker chose to re-hire Berhalter after his contract expired but now is the time to make a decision on if he’s the person who should manage this team at the 2026 World Cup.

Expectations will be through the roof for the USMNT playing in an anticipated World Cup on home soil and looking at what Berhalter has done as manager of the USMNT, he hasn’t proven that he should be the person to lead the team in this tournament. When asked at the end of the press conference if he’s the person who should lead the team moving forward, Berhater’s answer was simple stating, “Yes.”

But here’s why it’s time to move on:

Lack of attack when it matters 

When thinking back to the biggest USMNT result recently, it was the 0-0 draw with England at the World Cup. The USMNT defended well causing England to take shots from poor positions but by doing that, the attack couldn’t get into the game. There is a balance between attacking and defending when you need to but under Berhalter, this team has leaned into extremes. 

The game against Uruguay was a match where if the United States didn’t win and outdo Panama’s result, they would be knocked out. And they proceeded to take eight shots only putting three on target. Uruguay have a good defense but the urgency wasn’t there. You have to go for it, and even if it means that you lose 4-1, there needs to be more and under Berhalter they haven’t hit that gear. They’ve scored just one goal in the last 226 minutes. 

The team is too comfortable

Matt Turner’s words following the match speaking on Fox stuck with me. When asked how he felt about the USMNT’s direction after being eliminated from the tournament, Turner said, “I see no issue with the direction we’re headed.”

Not having competitive matches before the World Cup in 2026, Copa America was a critical time for growth within this USMNT generation and they failed to advance past Panama in the group. Looking at it that way, if anything, their stature within Concacaf slipped, but a tenureed member of the team still feels good about the direction. 

It’s understandable that a player may not want to throw others under the bus and Turner did take some accountability during the interview as well, but the feelings of anger for not getting knocked out of the tournament weren’t there. The USMNT used to be a team that would get punched and punch back harder and claw as hard as they could until the match was done, but this team doesn’t have that yet. It’s something that may come as they grow but it also needs a new manager to instill it.

Not enough has changed

Since the World Cup in 2022, the same questions remain. The United States haven’t shown that they can defeat marquee teams who aren’t named Mexico and they’ll have very few games remaining to do that now after falling in Copa America. After losing to the Netherlands in the World Cup with essentially the same roster, the expectation was that players would learn from that pain and do better the next time around, and while they did in some ways against Uruguay, this tournament left everyone wanting more. If anything, the USMNT regressed despite having players almost exclusively playing their club soccer abroad. It’s not a talent issue, it’s a leadership issue.

Who should replace him?

If U.S. Soccer decides that it’s best to move on from Berhalter, there’s no shortage of available candidates. Matt Crocker has proven that U.S. Soccer can attract top candidates in the world after the U.S. women’s team landed Emma Hayes but it’s unknown if the men’s side is as attractive of a role even with the 2026 World Cup on home soil. From possibly unrealistic candidates like Liverpool legend Jurgen Klopp to domestic candidates like Philadelphia Union’s Jim Curtin, LAFC’s Steve Cherundolo and Columbus Crew’s Wilfried Nancy, Crocker should leave no stone unturned in this coaching search as it could change the trajectory of American soccer as we know it.

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