It has been more than two years since the United States men’s soccer team had its worst disappointment, failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Yet in the team’s most recent match, a road shutout loss against the Canadians shows that the entire men’s team starting with the U.S. Soccer Federation down to the U.S. coaching staff, led by Gregg Berhalter, have displayed zero improvement along with a lack of identity on the pitch.
These problems began as soon as former manager Bruce Arena was let go following 2018 World Cup Qualifying. At the hands of the U.S. Soccer Federation, they were in no rush to name a new permanent manager, even when it seemed they needed to make a move in the right direction. Instead, they force the hands of Dave Sarachan to be a transitional interim coach and never committed to him full-time. This move was made even after Berhalter was looked at to take the job following the end of the qualification.
The process to hire Berhalter was barely even a process. Earnie Stewart, former General Manager of the Men’s team who now oversees both the Men and Women of U.S. soccer, interviewed only two candidates, Berhalter and Óscar Pareja. Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who now is the Mexican coach, showed interest in taking the job but was excluded from an interview due to his lack of English. Jesse Marsch, who has become the first American to coach in the UEFA Champions League, was never contacted by U.S. Soccer.
2018 saw 23 new players brought in to represent the Stars and Stripes yet they were never learning a system since Sarachan wasn’t being even consider keeping his job. This is the reason to the team’s recent struggle with Berhalter at the helm. Under Berhalter, he is looking to instill his system of play where the defenders play the ball forward instead of giving players the freedom to attack. It was what Berhalter did while managing Columbus Crew SC yet he was able to succeed as he dealt with his players on a daily basis during the Major League Soccer season.
His style is not working with the United States players. Even with the talented roster at his disposal, the time he has to make them adapt to a new style of play while they come from their club teams, hasn’t given results. Before the Gold Cup back in June, the U.S. suffered shutout defeats at the hands of Jamaica and Venezuela. In a friendly against Mexico, the U.S. was shutout again giving up three goals in the process.
The likes of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Josh Sargent are talented enough to take over games at the international level. Yet, the supporting cast that is joining these players also seem to not be fit for this team. Berhalter has been accused for calling up his “favorites” from the MLS compared to testing out the players who are playing their club ball internationally.
The team now faces a very daunting path in the new CONCACAF Nations League, as it must defeated Cuba and Canada in order to move on into the semifinals. If the U.S. doesn’t win these next two games, it is all but time to fire Gregg Berhalter and have a bigger look in the mirror seeing exactly what is making this team such a disaster right now.