United States
Christian Pulisic backs Gregg Berhalter, says coach has been 'extremely unfortunate'
United States

Christian Pulisic backs Gregg Berhalter, says coach has been 'extremely unfortunate'

Updated Mar. 16, 2023 7:18 p.m. ET

United States national team star Christian Pulisic says Gregg Berhalter is "extremely unfortunate" to no longer be the coach of the American squad.

Hired after the USMNT failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup — the program's first miss in more than three decades — Berhalter led the U.S. back to the most popular event in global sports last year. The U.S. went undefeated during the group stage at Qatar 2022 before being eliminated by the powerful Netherlands in the round of 16.

FOX Sports reported in early December that Berhalter and the U.S. Soccer Federation had initiated preliminary discussions about extending his contract through the 2026 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the U.S. But those talks were put on hold after the parents of U.S. forward Gio Reyna reported a 1992 domestic incident between Berhalter and his now wife after comments Berhalter made about the younger Reyna's poor attitude in Qatar became public.

U.S. Soccer hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation, the results of which were released Monday. The report concluded Claudio and Danielle Reyna, both former national team players, were furious about Gio's lack of playing time at the World Cup and wanted to prevent Berhalter from continuing as U.S. coach.


The Berhalters were found to have detailed the domestic incident accurately, and U.S. soccer confirmed Monday in a statement that he remains a candidate to return. But as a practical matter, there's no question Berhalter's chances of being retained have been severely diminished by the drama, which became a mainstream news story in early January. 

The U.S has been without a full-time coach since Berhalter's previous deal expired Dec. 31.

"I'm not here to appoint the next manager — it's not my job — and whoever it is I'm going to play and give it 100 percent," Pulisic said in an interview with ESPN.

"Everything that happened with Gregg, first of all, has been handled in an extremely childish manner. I think we've seen what's been going on. I think it's childish, it's youth soccer, people complaining about playing time. I don't want to go too far into that, but I think Gregg has been extremely unfortunate to get into the position he is in now."

Pulisic, along with Reyna, headlines the U.S. roster interim boss Anthony Hudson named Wednesday for a pair of CONCACAF Nations League games later this month.

Several other players commended the job Berhalter did during his four-year tenure, both immediately following the World Cup and after the controversy with the Reynas initially came to light. It remains to be seen whether the support of Pulisic or other key contributors could provide a lifeline for Berhalter, who sources said is currently exploring opportunities in Europe, to return to the helm. 

U.S. Soccer first must find a replacement for former sporting director Earnie Stewart. Whoever gets that job will select the USMNT's coach through the 2026 World Cup, which is now just over three years away.

"Do I feel like we should just wait and wait? I don't think it's necessary, because we are not in a phase like we were after not qualifying where we needed a complete rebuild," Pulisic said.

"We don't need a bunch of new guys coming in," he added. "We have a strong core, in my opinion. People have seen that, and we need to carry on with that. It's a tough one for me because we should continue that as soon as we can and build off this [last] World Cup, which I think had a lot of positives in it. We want to get going with that as soon as we can."

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