NEW YORK (— Gregg Berhalter walked into an interview with the U.S. Soccer Federation in New York on Tuesday, 161 days after the governing body announced he had been replaced by an interim coach. He spent nearly 10 hours in talks led by sporting director Matt Crocker that included psychometrics, abstract reasoning tests, discussions of strategy and reaction to pressure.
Berhalter was at Newark Liberty International Airport the following day when his phone rang,
“Matt called me and he said, `You’re the guy,’” Berhalter recalled Friday after the USSF announced he had been rehired to lead the Americans through the 2026 World Cup. “It was a great feeling. You could imagine what the last six months have been like.”
Mexico’s Club América had been discussing its coaching job with the 49-year-old, who put those talks on hold to speak with the USSF.
“I have to do this interview,” Berhalter remembered telling the Mexican side. “I know that we have something that we’re discussing, but I have to go through with this because I would regret it the rest of my life if I never gave myself the opportunity.”
Initially hired in December 2018 after the U.S. failed to qualify for that year’s World Cup, Berhalter led the Americans to the second round last year in Qatar before a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands. He was discussing the possibility of a new contract, but that talk stopped after the Reyna family notified the USSF of a three-decade-old domestic violence allegation involving Berhalter and the woman who later became his wife.
Berhalter’s contract expired Dec. 31 and Anthony Hudson, one of his assistants, was appointed interim coach on Jan. 4 when the USSF announced it had hired the law firm Alston and Bird to investigate. The firm said in a report released March 13 that while Berhalter’s conduct “likely constituted the misdemeanor crime of assault on a female,” he did not improperly withhold information when he was hired.
“We take accusations of domestic violence very seriously,” said USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone, who flanked Berhalter with Crocker and CEO JT Batson during a news conference in Las Vegas. “There was an independent investigation into the matter and we trust those findings, and Gregg has our full support.”
Crocker was hired in April to succeed Earnie Stewart and considered a double-digit total of candidates before recommending Berhalter’s regime resume.
“It might look like as if there’s been a lost period of time, but sometimes you need time to reflect and to move forward,” Crocker said.
Berhalter’s contract was approved Thursday night by the USSF board.
“The one individual who did not vote in the affirmative, we’ve already had conversations today around ideas he has around how we make sure the most vibrant and diverse staff (is hired) going forward,” Batson said.
Berhalter won’t coach the Americans until September. Hudson quit on May 30 to become coach of Qatar’s Al-Markhiya and was replaced by B.J. Callaghan, a fellow Berhalter assistant. Callaghan led the team to Thursday night’s 3-0 win over Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League.
“I think the match last night showed we haven’t missed a beat,” Parlow Cone said.
Callaghan will coach the Americans against Canada in Sunday’s final and through the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and Berhalter will be on the bench in September.
“There’s some real big-ticket items around, some real strategic stuff over the next couple of seasons that we need to map out first,” Crocker said.
Berhalter doesn’t plan to meet with players this week, but added: “I’d love to go in the meal room and give everyone a hug and reunite with them.”
He led the Americans to 37 wins, 11 losses and 12 draws but must repair his relationship with midfielder Gio Reyna, a son of former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna and midfielder Danielle Egan. Berhalter nearly sent Gio home from Qatar because of lack of hustle in training, then discussed his issues with Gio at a management conference after the World Cup. While he didn’t identify the 20-year-old, the individual was clear from the context.
“If we can inlock his talents, he’s going to be a game-changer for this program,” Berhalter said. “So there’s work to do and part of it is working together with Matt and trying to rebuild the relationship that we know will be important moving forward.”
Berhalter is excited about taking the team deep into the 2026 World Cup, which the U.S. will co-host.
“When I was in the locker room immediately after losing to the Netherlands in Qatar, walking around and looking in the players’ faces and seeing their heads down, there was real disappointment, Berhalter said. “There wasn’t satisfaction for us going to the second round and losing to a world powerhouse. It was real disappointment. And I looked at their faces and that was intriguing to me, because they were hungry.”
“When I took over in 2018, I was coaching kids, and to see the development of this group, the individuals and the team has been amazing,” he added. “It made me think about, OK, what could the next three years look like if we continue to develop in the way that we have? What is it going to look like? And that was exciting because you think about if this group continues to go where we think they can go, the sky’s the limit.”