Gregg Berhalter: USMNT ‘need to learn how to beat the best teams’ (video)
United States men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter strikes a more relaxed pose these days, and it’s not difficult to understand why.
Berhalter, 50, has navigated a challenging year that included managing the USMNT at the World Cup and an ensuing firestorm of controversy dug up by an old friend who happened to be the father of one of his best players.
Now the coach, reinstalled in his old position, can focus on preparing the Yanks for the 2026 World Cup on North American soil, preparation that will include — pending a triumph over Trinidad and Tobago this week — next summer’s Copa America.
Berhalter engaged in a long and wide-ranging interview with Andres Cantor prior to Thursday’s first leg against T&T — Watch live at 9pm ET en Peacock en Espanol — and had some quote-worthy moments to be sure.
Here are some of the top moments. You can watch the full interview atop this post or below.
Gregg Berhalter on the challenges to be presented by not playing World Cup qualifiers
“Our priority is to play the best possible opponents we can. Last window playing Germany and Ghana was a good experience for our group. We really feel to be successful at the World Cup, we’ll need to learn how to beat the best teams. I’m not sure qualifying prepares you for that. CONCACAF qualifying is extremely difficult and extremely difficult mentally but when we talk about the opportunity to play teams like Brazil, Germany, or Spain, that’s a real learning experience for our group.”
Can training at a top team be enough for a player?
“For a certain time period it is, and then there needs to be games cause that where you get the biggest test. I spoke about Matt Turner being at Arsenal in his first season in the PL. We talked about how that was a big learning experience training with those players every single week but after that he needs to be playing. Your growth gets stagnant after a while just training.”
How do you evaluate players at clubs who aren’t necessarily playing a lot? Is a player dominating in MLS compared to someone adapting to the Premier League?
“It’s not the same to be playing in the Premier League versus another league because the Premier League is the highest league in the world. That is something you have to take into consideration. We look if players are dominating at their position in the game, regardless of what level they are playing at.”
What Gregg Berhalter wants the USMNT to be
“We’re aggressive on the field. We like to have the ball. We like to attack with speed. And that’s who we are. Ideally you’re doing both, winning and playing to your identity.”
Who are the leaders of this USMNT, younger guys like Christian Pulisic or older guys Tim Ream?
“In a player like Tim Ream, he’s a great example to the rest of the group. 36 years old, 37, playing in the Premier League every week and takes such good care of his body that players can see the pathway you need to take if you want to get to there. There are very few players who play to Tim’s age. Then you have guys like Christian Pulisic. Take Christian at 25 years old to have this much experience in international games, in Champions League, in Europe.”
What Gregg Berhalter’s goals for the 2026 World Cup?
“We want to win the whole thing. I know that’s really hard, and when you hear it you’re like, ‘Come on, Gregg,’ but honestly it’s about trying to win the World Cup, doing every single thing it takes to win the World Cup. We only have to be better than the team we are playing that day.”
What was the public dispute with Reyna, family like for his family?
“What I’d say is it’s difficult. It’s been difficult for the family. And then I think about how everyone goes through difficult times. We did it together and we’re able to look forward and be open. That was the most important thing was the example we set for our family.”
Does he hope his young players can play at Copa America and Olympics?
“The Summer of 24 has Copa America hopefully and right after that the Olympics. You can have two different rosters competing for a trophy and preparing a group for the World Cup in 2026. ... It’s going to be a lot of communication with the clubs and what Copa America looks like. That would be a tournament to prioritize.”