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Gregg Berhalter back in contention; who are the contenders to be USMNT head coach?

An independent investigation has concluded that Berhalter “remains a candidate to serve as head coach of the Men’s National Team”.

El regreso de Berhalter está cerca

The mystery over who will become the next head coach of the USMNT has taken another twist following the findings of an independent investigation carried out into allegations of misconduct against previous incumbent Gregg Berhalter.

Following the USMNT’s elimination from the Qatar 2022 World Cup in the round of 16, it was revealed in early January that Berhalter, whose contract had come to an end, was being investigated for a gender violence incident that had taken place with his now-wife Rosalind, when the pair were still in college in 1992.

Berhalter’s Reyna run-in

To add some extra spice to the scandal, the accusations came from former US internationals Claudio and Danielle Reyna, parents of Gio Reyna. The Borussia Dortmund star was on the USMNT World Cup roster but barely saw any game time, and confirmed after his team’s elimination that he was the player Berhalter had said had shown a “lack of commitment and a poor attitude”.

Claudio, a long-time friend of Berhalter, and wife Danielle were seemingly not impressed with the USMNT coach’s comments about their son and contacted US Soccer as a form of retribution, telling them about the altercation with Rosalind, which they had known about for decades.

A month-long probe carried out by Atlanta law firm Alston and Bird, however, has concluded that US Soccer were within their rights to hire Berhalter as head coach in the first place, as “none of the questions posed to Mr. Berhalter duringthe U.S. Soccer hiring process would have required him to disclose information regarding the 1992 Incident, nor would any standard background check run in connection with that process have revealed the incident”.

The investigation also concludes that there is now “no legal impediment to employing him” and “Berhalter remains a candidate to serve as head coach of the Men’s National Team”.

US Soccer statement on Berhalter investigation

US Soccer’s statement reads:

“U.S. Soccer takes seriously both allegations of violence and allegations of inappropriate behavior toward our officials and staff. We appreciate Alston & Bird’s thorough and diligent work and are grateful to all who participated in this investigation.

“U.S. Soccer’s process for determining who will serve as Sporting Director is ongoing, and interviews are underway. The Sporting Director will lead the process of determining who will serve as head coach of the Men’s National Team. Given the investigators’ conclusion that there is no legal impediment to employing him, Gregg Berhalter remains a candidate to serve as head coach of the Men’s National Team.

“The report also identifies a need to revisit U.S. Soccer’s policies concerning appropriate parental conduct and communications with staff at the National Team level. We will be updating those policies as we continue to work to ensure safe environments for all participants in our game”.

What is Gregg Berhalter’s record as USMNT head coach?

Former Colombus Crew head coach Berhalter took charge of 60 matches between December 2018 and December 2022, winning 37, drawing 12 and losing just 11. The USMNT won both the CONCACAF Nations League in 2019-20 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2021 but criticism came the coach’s way for failing to get the best out of some talented attacking players.

Who are the contenders to be the next USMNT head coach?

Jesse Marsch

The chances of Marsch taking over as next USMNT head coach have surely improved now that he is no longer in charge of Premier League club Leeds United. The former Chicago Fire midfielder is well-liked in the States although, with little time to work with international players, he may find it difficult to implement his specific style of play due to a lack of time on the training field.

Jim Curtin

Two time MLS Coach of the Year has worked wonders at Philadelphia Union in MLS and is out of contract at the end of the 2023 season. He even claimed on The Crack Podcast that he would be willing to leave his club job to become an assistant coach at the USMNT. “Whoever they choose, if they choose José Mourinho, if they choose [Carlo] Ancelotti, if they choose Jesse Marsch, I would also be their assistant. Of course I’d love to coach the national team, if that’s what you’re asking. But I said this before [about being an assistant] and I mean what I say when I say it..that’s how important I think this [2026] World Cup is.”

José Mourinho

Is the high-profile Portuguese the dream ticket for the USMNT? Mourinho, who has won 26 trophies as a club coach, would certainly add some stardust to the role and was recently asked by Fox Sports Mexico about whether he would be interested. His response was typically intriguing:“Every week someone loves me. Be it a club, be it a national team but the only one that has called me has been the Portuguese team, which I have not been able to accept.”

Marcelo Bielsa

Bielsa’s tub-thumping style of play would certainly get fans to tune in although, like Marsch, he would perhaps struggle with a lack of time with players on the training field. That said, he does have experience of international management in the past, but he failed to get past the round of 16 in the World Cup with either Argentina (2002) or Chile (2010).