The worst-kept secret in American soccer is now official: Gregg Berhalter would be the subsequent coach of the United States males’s nationwide workforce.
Berhalter, who will go away the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer after 5 seasons, was the handpicked alternative of the nationwide workforce’s new common supervisor, Earnie Stewart. But his hiring didn’t change into a accomplished deal till U.S. Soccer’s board of administrators permitted his contract in a convention name. That name befell Saturday, based on an individual acquainted with the choice.
The 45-year-old Berhalter, a former defender who represented the United States on two World Cup groups, is anticipated to be launched as the nationwide workforce coach early subsequent week in New York.
His hiring, rumored for months, ends a remarkably methodical search that began with the team’s World Cup qualifying humiliation in Couva, Trinidad, nearly 14 months ago. In the interregnum, U.S. Soccer endured a bitter campaign to elect a new president, won the rights to co-host the 2026 World Cup and watched the 2018 tournament in Russia from afar.
It has also seen the men’s team drift through a dozen games under a caretaker coach, Dave Sarachan, while Stewart — hired as general manager in June and on the job only since Aug. 1 — began the long-delayed search for Bruce Arena’s permanent replacement.
Stewart made few comments on the coaches he was speaking with, and in his rare comments to reporters set a curiously high bar for what he considered a formal interview for the position. But in the end he cast his lot with Berhalter, a former teammate.
Berhalter’s contract will carry him through a four-year World Cup cycle that he, his new players and — most important — the federation hope will end in a redemptive appearance by the United States at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
While the end of the team’s leadership vacuum will come as a relief for U.S. Soccer, the plodding pace of the search — a persistent frustration for fans over the past year — was not its finest hour. In recent weeks, the frustration about the team even began to bubble up from inside the locker room. Christian Pulisic, the team’s brightest star, strongly hinted after a game in London last month that the team needed some direction after more than a year under Sarachan, a longtime Arena assistant but never a serious candidate for the permanent post.
“We definitely want a permanent head coach,” Pulisic said, “someone who has a plan and someone who has a great idea of how we want to play moving forward.”
Berhalter, whose Columbus team was eliminated from the M.L.S. playoffs weeks ago, should hit the ground running. He has kept journals about tactics, but also his personal successes and failures, since his playing days in the Dutch league, and his Columbus teams — short on star power but long on preparation and organization — earned a reputation for punching above their weight in M.L.S.
The decision to give him the national team job will do little to appease critics of U.S. Soccer’s insider culture (Berhalter’s older brother Jay is U.S. Soccer’s chief commercial officer) or its outreach efforts to the country’s large Hispanic soccer community, which has often felt its contributions — and its players — have been marginalized by the federation.
But Berhalter’s credentials appealed to the one person who mattered most: Stewart. Berhalter represented clubs in the Netherlands, England and Germany during a long playing career, and made more than 40 appearances for the United States senior team — including two starts in the knockout stage of the 2002 World Cup. He earned his coaching licenses while playing in Europe and cut his teeth in an 18-month stint leading Hammarby in Sweden. Fired for fielding teams that were deemed “too defensive,” he returned to M.L.S. — where he had won a league title as a player, under Arena in Los Angeles — to lead Columbus to the playoffs in four of his five seasons in charge.
Berhalter’s first look at the United States team will come in its annual January training camp, which most likely will take place without most of the squad’s European pros. (The January dates are not on the official FIFA calendar, meaning clubs are not required to release their players for them.) That camp will be more than 16 months after the team’s stunning loss to Trinidad and Tobago in World Cup qualifying shook U.S. Soccer to its core.
The 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle is expected to begin next fall. By then, U.S. Soccer hopes, Berhalter and his players will be positioned at last to try to return the country to soccer’s biggest stage.