U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter has represented the United States as both a player and coach, and joined the growing chorus of Americans to express their disgust with the violent scenes in Washington D.C. last Wednesday.
The violent riot that overwhelmed the Nation’s Capitol, which resulted in five deaths — including a Capitol police officer — has shaken the country and left Berhalter dismayed.
“The way I see this is, this is a low point for us,” Berhalter said in a conference call on Monday. “There’s a lot of room to improve as a country, and it is something where we can all be better examples, we can all be better citizens. When you’re watching [the riot], you know it doesn’t jibe at all with what we know as America to be.”
Berhalter has not spoken to his players yet in January camp about the recent events in Washington D.C., but expects conversations to take place, along with more opportunities for the USMNT to make statements against injustice.
“It’s not who we are as a country, and it’s disappointing to see, but all we can do is be good examples and continue our efforts in trying to make change,” Berhalter said. “So I think that’s the important message to the team: Our work isn’t done just because the year changed, and we need to keep going and persevere.”
USMNT players have openly voiced their opinions, both on and off the field, on various social issues, including speaking out following the death of George Floyd. an African-American citizen who was the victim of police brutality in May of 2020.
European-based players like Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Zack Steffen all showed their support for change with messages on shirts and cleats, while many MLS players and clubs also did the same last season.
The USMNT donned jackets in a November friendly against Wales with messages such as “Be the Change”, “Black Lives Matter”, and “Unite The Truth” as the continuous efforts to lead change in the country.
The team continued to wear those pregame jackets in a 6-0 friendly win over El Salvador in December and are set to do more of the same in 2021.
“I think obviously we all realized how horrific those events were, and we all understand that there’s a need for change in this country,” USMNT forward Jordan Morris said. “I think the big thing for us, and what I’ve talked to guys about a little bit is hopefully our goal as a national team is to be a positive representation of what that change can be, and how we need to move forward.
“I think it’s also in these hard times, we hope to be, as a team, a positive light because I know that these times are super challenging and there’s so much going on, so much stress.”
The USMNT is currently in camp in Florida along with the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team as both begin preparations for a busy year ahead. The USMNT will compete in Nations League, the Concacaf Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying, while the U-23 team will compete in Olympic qualifying in March and potentially the Olympics this summer.