The USMNT made it to the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup after an eight-year gap from the tournament but were unable to find much success there in a 3-1 loss to Netherlands. This is USA’s third consecutive round of 16 exit at the World Cup and ahead of the 2026 competition, there will be questions about the status of the American program and how to move forward.
One of those questions will be manager Gregg Berhalter, who is out of a contract at the end of this year. Berhalter clearly knew his team’s performance in Qatar would impact his job status, and he’s said how great the opportunity to coach USA at a home World Cup would be. The Americans met expectations under Berhalter by making the knockout round but it is important to have some context heading into the next World Cup cycle.
USA have a roster of budding stars who could be the country’s “Golden Generation” over the coming years. Does administrators want Berhalter to have four more years with this group? The 2026 World Cup is not just a home World Cup; it is an opportunity to make a deep run with arguably the best group of players the Americans have ever had. You can make the argument this team made it to the round of 16 in Qatar in spite of Berhalter’s tactics. His decisions regarding Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson remain questionable and while he has a draw against England on his resume, the team also needed Christian Pulisic’s heroics against Iran to qualify for the round of 16. It wasn’t like the Americans easily made it out of the group stage.
One potential reason to keep Berhalter around would be the lack of obvious replacement candidates. Jesse Marsch of Leeds United would be a candidate, while Bob Bradley could also be in the mix. He did previously reach the round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup with USA as the manager of that team. Landon Donovan, who has dabbled in managing, could also be a potential option as a former player who might connect better with the younger group.
Ultimately, it would be wrong to fire Berhalter for meeting expectations. We’ll see what U.S. soccer eventually decides but it looks like Berhalter will be back for another four-year cycle.