Discussion: Berhalter – Right Man for the USMNT Job?

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  • #30170 Reply

    The Columbus Dispatch and other outlets are reporting that Columbus Crew coach Gregg Berhalter will be named the next US Men’s National Team coach within the next week.

    If true, did U.S. soccer get the right man for the job?

    Bonus Question: What are the impacts for FC Cincinnati’s “Hell Is Real” rival Columbus Crew if Berhalter departs?

    #30176 Reply

    Stephen Buckeridge
    Participant

    This is an intriguing question from many angles, as it ends the worst selection process for a national team coaching position ever but also has significant impact on the Orange & Blue and “Hell is Real” rivalry.

    First, let’s focus on the USMNT perspective. They have literally been rudderless since the horrific loss in Trinidad & Tobago 13 months ago that left the USA at home during the greatest sports tournament in Russia this past summer. Since then, Dave Sarachan has done an adequate job as caretaker through a series of high profile, low value matches but he was just that, a caretaker. The hiring of former USMNT player Ernie Stewart as the USMNT General Manager on the eve of World Cup 2018 gave national fans false hope. The biggest question most fans have had is who Earnie actually interviewed for the position. Potential candidate after candidate appeared to pop up in rumors and interest in the position. However, when asked their reply was always the same, not only had they not been interviewed for the position but they weren’t even contacted by US Soccer.

    One candidate kept surfacing above the others in the baffling process…Columbus Crew SC manager Gregg Berhalter. Now it appears the worst kept secret is true, and the two sides are nearing the completion of an agreement that would make Berhalter the next USMNT manager. Personally, I think he is a great choice [put aside the lack of candidates that were interviewed; it now appears 4 candidates were in contention with former FCD manager Oscar Pareja and Berhalter the only two formally interviewed]. Berhalter has taken a lower market club with a limited payroll, and owner in Precourt who was actively doing everything he could to make the team look bad in Columbus, and made them a formidable MLS side who shocked better teams in successive years of the playoffs for consecutive first round wins.

    Berhalter was a stalwart defender for the USMNT that helped the nation to its best modern day World Cup showing in Korea in 2002. He played smarter than his talent indicated. He brings this same tenacity, intellect and drive to his coaching. He is level-headed, communicates extremely well with his players (which may be the highest need of a USMNT coach as they spend so little time together) and can effectively make in game changes that impact matches. He brings not only his domestic and international playing career experiences to the table, but the same foundation from the managerial realm having successfully coached in Europe and the MLS. The Crew players love playing for him – not because he’s a good guy but because he is clear, concise and direct in his coaching style. Don’t let the anemic coaching search by US Soccer color your opinion on Berhalter – he is the right man for the USMNT position. Especially when you look at the promising but inexperienced talent pool that we currently have in the player pantry.

    There is significant turnover in Columbus this winter when you couple Berhalter’s move to the USMNT with the potential multi-million transfer of their best player Zach Steffen to Manchester City and the imminent sale of the franchise. Will the Crew bring in the likes of former Akron Zips (and Portland Timbers) manager Caleb Porter to take the reigns? Will the new ownership group, spearheaded by Jimmy Haslam and deeper pockets of DP-level spending capabilities, make a statement or two in the transfer market this off-season?

    One thing is for certain, the “Hell is Real” rivalry and professional soccer in Ohio is alive and well. Let’s enjoy the moment all!

    #30177 Reply

    Michael Walker
    Keymaster

    For me, it’s less about whether Berhalter is the right man, but whether there might be a better candidate. I like Berhalter, he certainly understands the U.S. soccer landscape, MLS, and how to navigate within that. He speaks well and that’s important for the figurehead of American soccer. I like the way his teams play, and he’s done pretty well with a relatively meager budget in Columbus. That being said, the Crew have not been perennial supporters shield or MLS Cup contenders. If we’re looking at MLS coaches, I think a coach like Oscar Pareja might have better credentials and be preferable to me. Of course, he’s not American and some people want that.

    I was hoping US Soccer could identify and select someone with more proven credentials who had managed at the international level. In lieu of that, I do like Berhalter, the way he thinks about the game, and we’ll have to judge him by his results. Klinnsman’s replacement is long overdue and more than anything I’m ready for the USMNT to turn the page and move forward.

    In terms of what it means for the Crew, it seems certain that this will be a year of change for our neighbors to the north. New ownership, a new manager, and likely a team without Zack Steffen (but with transfer cash) will create a new identity, and that will be interesting to watch as we look forward to the next chapter of Hell is Real.

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