Gregg Berhalter rehired as USMNT head coach after months of drama, limbo

Head coach Gregg Berhalter of the United States gestures during the World Cup, group B soccer match between the United States and Wales, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Gregg Berhalter's contract expired after the 2022 World Cup amid an investigation and a bizarre saga involving the parents of USMNT midfielder Gio Reyna. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

PARADISE, Nev. — In an extraordinary twist, after months of drama and limbo, U.S. Soccer has rehired Gregg Berhalter as its men's national team head coach.

The federation made Berhalter's appointment official Friday, more than five months after his contract expired amid a bizarre saga involving the parents of USMNT midfielder Gio Reyna.

U.S. Soccer officials will formally welcome Berhalter at a Friday afternoon news conference in Las Vegas, but said in a release that interim coach B.J. Callaghan would continue to lead the team at the CONCACAF Nations League finals and Gold Cup this summer. Berhalter will then take charge in September.

Berhalter began his first stint at the USMNT helm in 2018. He coached the team to two regional titles in 2021, and to the Round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup. Soon thereafter, he became embroiled in the complicated, fraught saga triggered by the Reynas.

The saga led to an investigation into a 1992 domestic violence incident involving Berhalter and his now-wife, Rosalind. During the investigation, Berhalter's contract expired; and the two men who would have been responsible for either rehiring or replacing him, sporting director Earnie Stewart and USMNT general manager Brian McBride, left their jobs.

At that point, Berhalter felt like a long shot to reclaim his job, though U.S. Soccer consistently said he remained a candidate. The federation hired a consulting firm, Sportsology, to assist with a broad search, and indicated it might not hire a new coach until the summer.

Then the investigation, which mostly corroborated Berhalter's public account of the 1992 incident, officially cleared him to be reconsidered. A month later, U.S. Soccer hired Matt Crocker to replace Stewart. Crocker immediately took the lead on the coaching search. On Friday, U.S. Soccer described it as "global," data-driven search. U.S. Soccer CEO J.T. Batson told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday, prior to the Berhalter hire, that Crocker had interviewed at least 10 candidates.

"Crocker outlined the ideal competencies for the head coach, which included building lasting relationships with staff and players, planning and effectively driving a vision-led identity, pushing innovation and boundaries, and being a decisive decision-maker," the federation said. "Within these categories, he utilized advanced data analytics, sophisticated metrics, and cutting-edge hiring methods to profile and rank each candidate. During the course of several weeks, candidates were evaluated through all of these filters and went through a battery of practical and psychological testing."

From the pack, Berhalter reemerged, likely aided by endorsements from players. Throughout the process, several USMNT stars, including Christian Pulisic, had publicly praised his work with the team from 2018-2022.

Those endorsements continued up to and throughout this week, when the team gathered in Las Vegas for the CONCACAF Nations League finals. The news of Berhalter's imminent return broke just as the USMNT kicked off its semifinal against Mexico. After the USMNT's dominant 3-0 win in that game, Pulisic again praised Berhalter and his work with the USMNT.

"I've supported him in the past," Pulisic said. "Today is a testament of the work that he's put into this team. [Interim coach] B.J. [Callaghan] picked up right where he left off, and it's a testament to him, it's a testament to this team, the way that we just continued, and put on performances like that."

Berhalter will resume his work behind the scenes this summer, before taking charge of the team in the fall, beginning with friendlies. He'll have a contract through 2026, and a mandate to take a young, hungry squad to unprecedented heights.

“This isn’t just business as usual and going back to how things have been in the past,” Crocker said in a statement. “We have a unique opportunity to evolve the team and improve moving forward, and I want us to take the time to consider how we do that collectively in partnership with Gregg. With that as our focus, B.J. will continue to lead through the Nations League Final and the Gold Cup tournament this summer while I work collectively with Gregg on some of the big-picture items away from the team."