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US Soccer Federation Fires Men’s Coach Gregg Berhalter

U.S. men’s national soccer team coach Gregg Berhalter was fired after his team was eliminated early from the Copa América tournament on July 1.

The 1-0 defeat to Uruguay in Kansas City, Missouri was particularly galling as the United States hosted the tournament, which is usually held in South America. It was the first time since the format was introduced in 1975 that the host nation failed to advance to the knockout stage.

“We are focused 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,” U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker said in a statement.

The firing was first reported by Fox Sports.

The United States is set to co-host the 2026 World Cup with Mexico and Canada, aiming to showcase the results of a years-long effort to bring the quality of U.S. soccer to the level of the best teams in Europe and South America. The United States has advanced past the round of 16 only once in the modern World Cup, making the quarterfinals in 2002.

Berhalter, 50, has faced heavy criticism during his two stints at the helm of the men’s team since 2018. He has been criticized for poor performances in tournaments, including his teams’ multiple failures to win the Concacaf Gold Cup and the North American continental tournament, as well as poor tactics and poor leadership.

The latter was highlighted most recently by an incident during the goalless match against Uruguay, where he was seen encouraging his team by saying that if the results remained the same, they would advance to the next round, as Panama and Bolivia had drawn in the other match. Uruguay then scored and the USA were eliminated.

When asked in the post-match press conference if he was still the right man for the job, Berhalter replied, “Yes.”

But US Soccer disagreed, firing Berhalter a year after reinstating him as head coach.

A good performance by the American team, which features players with extensive European club experience such as Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, was expected to help increase Copa América ticket revenue for the knockout stage matches the team participated in. It was also hoped that potential major US matches against teams such as Brazil and Argentina could increase viewership of the tournament, a key market for the global growth of soccer.

Berhalter initially took over in 2018, but his contract was allowed to expire at the end of 2022, and a pair of interim managers took over in his absence. He was rehired in June 2023, with Crocker citing his “vision, as well as his experience and growth mindset on and off the field” as the reasoning behind the decision at the time.

Crocker has since changed his tune, expressing disappointment with his team’s performance.

“We have to do better,” he said after the Uruguay match.