Vindicated Berhalter deserves a chance to finish what he started with U.S. Men's National Team
U.S. Soccer has reported findings of an investigation of 1992 domesti violence incident involving former U.S. Men's National Team Coach Greg Berhalter. This column is not about that; suffice it to say, Berhalter is vindicated, Claudio and Danielle Reyna have embarrassed themselves, their talented son Gio, and U.S. Soccer. If you don't already know the sordid details, Jeff Carlisle of ESPN published a detailed report here.
The report concluded that Berhalter is eligible for the job he held from December 2018 through Dec. 22, 2022. And if he wants it, I believe he's earned a chance to finish what he started.
And, yes, this FanSided site is dedicated to Club Internacional de Futbol Miami. How, you might ask, is Berhalter's future related to Inter Miami? Tenuously.
But here's my story, and I'm sticking to it: Drake Callender. Have you been watching the man play goalkeeper? He's been named to two of the first three Major League Soccer Teams of the Matchday in 2023. The 25-year-old Californian deserves a call-up to a national team camp.
But back to Berhalter: Did he betray Gio when he spoke about the young midfielder's behavior in Qatar? Yeah, he undoubtedly mishandled that. Huge mistake. Should it cost him his job? Not if this is an isolated incident, a learning moment, a momentary lapse in judgment. If it's a pattern of behavior, he WILL lose the locker room and will have to go. He has some bridges to mend, but I don't think he's irredeemably lost his players' respect.
Is he good enough to maximize results from this young, talented generation? A loud chorus of critics is sure the answer is "No." I'm not so sure.
Berhalter sometimes struggles with tactical adjustments; his lineups and formations sometimes are baffling, and he is overly loyal to a style of play difficult to perfect in the limited time he has with the national team. Some observers make a convincing case that Berhalter's squad underperformed in Qatar. I don't buy it -- they may have underperformed some fans' expectations, but let's remember they were the second youngest team at The World Cup, following a cycle when the Stars and Stripes were kep out of the most important competition in the universe by Trinidad and Tobago.
Why does Berhalter deserve a second chance? Because he's a winner. He won 37 of his 60 national team matches and drew 11. His 71.67 percent result percentage is better than every previous manager who coached more than two matches. When he took the job, the goal was to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. Mission accomplished. As an added bonus, the U.S. squeaked its way out of the group stage.
It's not Berhalter's fault the fans moved the goalposts.
In just more than three years, the U.S. Men's Team will play in its most important World Cup ever. Our talent pool is deeper than ever, our "Golden" generation led by Pulisic, McKennie, Adams and company will be at the peaks of their careers, and the games will be in North America, most in the states.
Now doesn't seem like the time to scrap the foundation Berhalter has built over the past four years. Is he a perfect coach, a perfect man? No, of course not.
But he might be THE man.