ORLANDO — Gregg Berhalter’s tenure as U.S. Men’s National Team coach has had its share of disappointing results, but as far as USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart is concerned, Berhalter is a coach making progress, not one in danger of losing his job.
“We’re looking at the future, so when I evaluate Gregg and the coaching staff, from what I’ve seen today, I’m a pleased man,” Stewart said. “An individual result is not going to change that. It’s just not.
“I’m pleased with the progress, but obviously when you don’t win games there’s a certain pressure that comes with that and we all understand,” Stewart said. ” That’s part of our business, but that’s also something that our player, and our staff and ourselves, we all need to get through and keep to doing what we have to do.”
Berhalter has come under increasing scrutiny after a series of worrisome results, from the consecutive pre-Gold Cup losses to Jamaica and Venezuela, to the recent losses to Mexico and Canada.
“When you look at these individual results of the Canada away game, no we weren’t happy. We weren’t happy at all. That’s really simple, and we have now a moment to rectify that as well. This Friday is about that. I’m not going to call it revenge or anything like that, but we need to perform on Friday, and as I’ve seen now over the last couple of days that we’ve been in camp I think we’re in really good shape to do that as well.”
The USMNT’s recent results have led to a sense among U.S. fans that the program isn’t making progress under Berhalter. Stewart disagrees, pointing to incremental improvements individual players are making as they adapt to Berhalter’s complicated possession-based system.
“Yes, results are a very important part, except once again I think in the trajectory that we have right now, and where we’re going to, and what I’ve been seeing from a consistency and continuity standpoint,” Stewart said. “I think those results, and once again I think Gold Cup was a very good example of what that will look like, so I have no fear at all that we’re not going to qualify for the World Cup. I’m very, very confident about that.
“But we’re also going to go play away against really, really big teams,” Stewart added. “What does that say? This is all, for me, the bigger picture. What do we want to achieve in 2022? Once you go away and play bigger teams in away games there’s certain risks that you take with that. For that view down the road, I think that’s going to be a key for us to get results and in the end in 2026 become a world champion because that’s what we all dream of.”