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U.S. Soccer Has A Serious Problem and Gregg Berhalter Needs to Go

WASHINGTON, D.C. - OCTOBER 11: Manager Gregg Berhalter of the United States during their Nations League game versus Cuba at Audi Field, on October 11, 2019 in Washington D.C. (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The Gregg Berhalter experiment needs to end. We gave it nearly a year and it's clear he's completely overmatched by the task at hand. It's time for U.S. Soccer to cut bait and move on.

In the 10 months since he officially took over as manager of the United States men's national team, Berhalter has done precisely nothing to improve the state of the program. On Tuesday night that truth came clearly into focus as Canada whipped the U.S. in every facet of their CONCACAF Nations League match, defeating the Yanks for the first time in 34 years.

The 2-0 loss to Canada was one of the worst performances we've seen from the U.S. national team in a decade and showed just how little Berhalter has accomplished in his quest to rebuild the team. The Americans were looked unprepared, lost and listless. It was a joke from start to finish. That failure falls squarely on the manager's shoulders.

After the U.S. failed to reach the World Cup in 2018, the powers-that-be took their sweet time finding a new manager to rebuild the broken program. The team was in limbo for an entire year under interim manager Dave Sarachan. That lost year wouldn't loom so large if the country had hired a top-flight manager with an easily translatable plan. That didn't happen.

Instead, U.S. Soccer settled on Berhalter, whose top achievement as a manager was taking the Columbus Crew to the MLS Cup Final in 2015. They lost.

So far Berhalter's record in charge of the U.S. features nine wins, five losses and two ties. He has yet to face a European squad and those losses include being dominated by Mexico twice and an inexcusable loss to Jamaica. In the process, the U.S. has yet to show signs of growth or consistency. From match to match it's impossible to know what you're going to get from the Americans.

Outside of his tactical failures, Berhalter's call-up and lineup decisions have been atrocious. The fact that Daniel Lovitz -- an average MLS defender (at best) -- is getting regular starts for the national team is insane. Wil Trapp, a Berhalter favorite in Columbus, is another guy getting regular call-ups when he's clearly not an international-level midfielder. The program's reliance on MLS-based players has only been reinforced under Berhalter, and that's a huge step back for the program. Playing in Europe's best leagues should be the goal of every young American player. That must be encouraged by U.S. Soccer and reinforced by its manager.

Of course, you can't blame Berhalter for the fact that he's in this position. He didn't hire himself. No, this is the result of a flawed process that needs to be remedied. By most accounts, Berhalter is a thoughtful, intelligent guy with real ideas as far as tactics go. The problem is he's obviously not able to clearly communicate those to his players so they can put them into practice.

The process looks even worse when you realize Gregg's older brother Jay is a top executive with U.S. Soccer. Do we really think Jay Berhalter is going to allow his brother to be fired, regardless of how clear it is he's overmatched? Of course not, and that's the problem.

If U.S. Soccer actually cared about being taken seriously and World Cup qualification was important to the governing body, Berhalter would be fired immediately. He would quickly be replaced by either a top-flight European club coach or someone with a successful track record in international soccer. It would take money and the promise of more resources to come, but the federation's executives would fork that over in a second if success was truly important to them.

It's become increasingly clear that the men in charge of U.S. Soccer don't really care about the success of the national team. If they did, there is no way the team would be where it is right now after missing the 2018 World Cup. If success on an international level was important, no expense would be spared to bring in the best coaches, tacticians, trainers, etc. Instead, they're plucking guys from Major League Soccer.

If the United States wants to actually compete in soccer on the world stage, there needs to be a top-to-bottom overhaul of the system. The first step should be replacing Berhalter with a real international-caliber manager.