Gregg Berhalter

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The USMNT player pool in Europe is as promising as ever

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It would be a challenge to put together a Best XI from Americans performing in Europe this Saturday.

That’s for two reasons, not one of them because there aren’t 11 players worthy of the honor.

One is goalkeepers: Zack Steffen is hurt and Ethan Horvath backing up Simon Mignolet.

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The other is pretty great: There are many more than 11 players thriving in Europe even with Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Zack Steffen, and Timothy Weah not available for selection.

It’s a weekly thing now. Gregg Berhalter trains a strong and mostly-MLS squad for January friendlies, The Americans Abroad round-ups on our site have shown plenty of progress for those eligible for the USMNT.

There was a time when Haji Wright coming off the bench for VVV-Venlo in the Netherlands had a shot at being the highlight of the weekend.

Now it’s a footnote. The 21-year-old is a regular for the relegation-threatened side after a transfer from Schalke. If anything, the discussion is about two in-a-row off the bench after a run of 10-straight league starts.

Consider this list of players, now that Aston Villa’s Indiana Vassilev and Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna made league debuts in the same weekend.

First team players in top tier leagues

Zack Steffen (Man City, on loan to Dusseldorf)
Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge)
DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
Sergino Dest (Ajax)
John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Tyler Boyd (Besiktas)
Indiana Vassilev (Aston Villa)
Haji Wright (VVV Venlo)
Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)
Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Tim Weah (Lille)

Dig deeper and there’s more: Matt Miazga (Reading), Tim Ream (Fulham), Geoff Cameron (QPR), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), and Duane Holmes (Derby County) have been regulars in the English Championship. Same for Julian Green (Greuther Furth) in 2.Bundesliga and in-form Lynden Gooch at League One’s Sunderland. Niko Hamalainen (Kilmarnock) is a regular starter in the Scottish Premiership.

Then there are heralded U-20 and U-17 prospects Chris Gloster (Jong PSV), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Alex Mendez (Ajax), Sebastian Soto (Hannover 96), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Ulysses Lainez (Wolfsburg II). Some have taken first team bows while others have made the bench or ar eon the verge.

And we’re just talking Europe here, as the U.S. still has a bevy of reliable international players playing domestically like Jordan Morris, Miles Robinson, and Jozy Altidore amongst others. That’s leaving alone the caliber of Homegrown players being produced by Major League Soccer academies, Paxton Pomykal and Djordje Mihailovic among them (Reyna and Richards, too).

In terms of potential, American soccer is at a golden age. This makes Brian McBride’s new role as USMNT general manager even more important, as he teams up with Gregg Berhalter to put the best possible American team together for qualifying.

One thing’s for sure, the player pool is deep and no longer an excuse. Game on.

Sebastian Berhalter signs Homegrown deal with Columbus Crew

Columbus Crew signs Sebastian Berhalter
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The Columbus Crew have signed Sebastian Berhalter to a Homegrown Player deal.

The 19-year-old midfielder is the son of former Crew and current USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter.

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Sebastian played 17 times for the University of North Carolina as a freshman, starting nine of those games. He went 210 minutes in twin extra time matches to close UNC’s season.

Here’s Crew general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, via a team release:

“As a longtime member of the Crew SC Academy, Sebastian is someone who understands the values and ideology of our Club. We are happy to see him join the professional ranks after a successful year at the college level and look forward to his continued development with the Crew.”

Sebastian praised the role of his parents in his development in a video interview. Gregg was a UNC star in his college days before moving to Europe to play for PEC Zwolle, Crystal Palace, and Energie Cottbus amongst others.

“My parents have been very influential on my career,” said the player. “They’ve helped me so much. They’ve always stayed positive to me, but also pushed me in a good way and I cannot thank them enough.”

Sebastian repped the U.S. at the U-16 level. Could dad and he one day join Bob and Michael Bradley as father-son USMNT combos? That’s a long way off and presumes dad turns around the national team, but would be a remarkable achievement.

USMNT announces March match vs. Giggs’ Wales

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Gregg Berhalter is set to match wits with Ryan Giggs when the United States men’s national team visits Wales this Spring.

The Yanks will visit Wales at Cardiff City Stadium on March 30, four days after visiting the Netherlands.

Wales and the USMNT are tied at 22nd in the FIFA rankings, though Wales is 25th in Elo Ratings to the Yanks’ 39th.

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“One of the important parts of continuing to develop this group is the opportunity to play against high-level opponents away from home,” Berhalter said in a press release. “The Netherlands is a soccer powerhouse featuring some of the world’s best talent. This game will be a good chance to compete as we build toward important competitions in the summer and fall.”

The two sides have only met once before, with Landon Donovan and Eddie Lewis scoring in a 2003 win.

Wales is preparing for EURO 2020, where it’s in Group A with Turkey, Switzerland, and Italy.

The next competition for the USMNT is this summer’s CONCACAF Nations League semifinal against Honduras. Mexico and Costa Rica are in the other semi.

U.S. Soccer names Brian McBride general manager of USMNT

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A familiar face is returning to the United States men’s national team fold.

Former United States international and Premier League striker Brian McBride has been named general manager, US Soccer announced on Friday.

The former Fulham captain fills the role that has been vacant since Earnie Stewart’s promotion to sporting director in August. The three-time World Cup veteran will report to Stewart, and will begin work as the general manger immediately. McBride is expected to join Gregg Berhalter and company in Bradenton, Florida, where a training camp is taking place.

“We are thrilled to have Brian McBride assume the role as general manager of the U.S. Men’s National Team,” Stewart said. “Through his impressive career as a three-time World Cup veteran and at clubs in England, Germany and the United States, he has earned the respect of his peers around the world. The hard-earned reputation will allow him to forge important relationships both internationally and here at home, and his understanding of the game and what it takes to succeed at the highest levels will be invaluable to our player pool and our staff.”

The 47-year-old will oversee the development and management of the player pool, build and lead the culture within the national team, and manage relationship with clubs.

“I am incredibly honored to once again represent the national team and the U.S. Soccer Federation,” McBride said. “It’s critically important for everyone to understand the privilege and pride that goes with wearing the jersey, and I’m excited about the opportunity to build relationships with players and clubs that align with the philosophy and values of U.S. Soccer.”

McBride made 95 caps for the Stars and Stripes and scored 30 goals during his USMNT playing career.

McBride’s 16-year career saw him play for Columbus Crew, Wolfsburg, Fulham and the Chicago Fire. He was on loan at Preston North End from 2000 to 2001 and at Everton in 2003. The Illinois native made 148 Premier League appearances throughout a seven seasons, scoring 36 goals and assisting nine times. In the summer of 2007, he was names the Whites’ captain.

Most recently, McBride was a television analyst for Fox Sports and ESPN. In 2011, he also founded the McBride’s Attacking Soccer Academy, while in 2014 he was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame.

USMNT primed for big 2020, revive World Cup dream

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After their training camp was moved from Qatar to Bradenton, Florida at short notice, the USMNT are getting focused on a huge 2020 as they aim to rebuild the reputation of the program.

USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has already discussed their hope of setting up a training camp in Qatar before the 2022 World Cup, while the U.S. are heading to the Netherlands and reportedly Wales in March as they continue to prepare for a crucial period in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying as the majority of their qualifiers are in the fall of 2020.

LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman has become a reliable presence at the heart of the USMNT defense and he knows the hard work starts now as this young U.S. group focus on 2022 World Cup qualification.

“We talked about it and we have six qualifiers at the end of this year, which is 60 percent of our qualifying process,” Zimmerman said. “It is huge. Everything is in front of us. We have all of our goals in front of us for this year and we have the Nations League in June, which is another chance for us to play in a competitive environment and try to win our first trophy as a group. Then it is all about looking ahead to qualifying. ‘How can we prepare ourselves for these first seven or eight months to head into September ready to go.'”

With a few weeks training followed by a friendly against familiar foe Costa Rica, Berhalter will be hoping to get his message across loud and clear with the MLS portion of his squad.

That’s something he struggled with last season as the USMNT failed to impress with disjointed displays and Berhalter’s philosophy of possession-based, fluid, attacking soccer only appeared in fits and starts.

The USMNT need to start 2020 well and this camp in January and their friendlies in March, with the European contingent involved for the first time, will set the tone for a massive 12 months in deciding whether or not they make a huge leap forwards as they hope to return to the World Cup.

With Christian Pulisic, Sergino Dest, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams all going through battles with injury and form so far this season, Berhalter knows this young USMNT squad needs its leaders to be fit and raring to go when September rolls around.

His time in charge will be judged on how the U.S. fare in World Cup qualifying. That’s it. That’s the job.