Gregg Berhalter was formally introduced as U.S. men's national team manager and discussed his vision for the team, while other key U.S. Soccer figures addressed bigger-picture, hot-button topics.
U.S. Soccer held a press conference in New York City on Tuesday to present Gregg Berhalter as the new U.S. men’s national team coach. On the podium were Berhalter, men's national team general manager Earnie Stewart, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro and CEO Dan Flynn.
After U.S. Soccer announced that Berhalter's first match will come Jan. 27 against Panama in Glendale, Ariz., they all fielded a variety of questions. Some regarded the process of hiring Berhalter and the direction of the team under the new manager, while others tackled big-picture issues such as Flynn's successor when he steps down as CEO–and whether Berhalter's brother, U.S. Soccer's current chief commerical officer Jay Berhalter, may or may not be in the mix.
The entirety of the remarks can be seen here:
Here are three thoughts on Berhalter's introduction and the remarks as a whole:
Berhalter isn’t flashy, but he has a plan
This clearly wasn’t José Mourinho’s first press conference at Chelsea back in 2004, when he called himself “the Special One.” That’s not Berhalter’s style. But he was very clear in what he wants from his U.S. team.
“The idea is that we’re an attacking-based team that wants to create goal-scoring opportunities by disorganizing the opponent,” Berhalter said at one point when asked to define the identity he’s looking for. “It will do that in a number of different ways.”
He mentioned his work in Columbus, where his teams tried to achieve that through build-up and making the field big. But he added that another way to do that is to use high pressure.
“Ball circulation, breaking lines, goal-scoring opportunites. That should be the DNA of this team,” said Berhalter, who wants his teams to be willing to mix up the tempo in ways that he said he hadn’t always seen in the past year.
Stewart defended his process
The federation has received criticism for the nearly 14 months that it took to name a new coach, with Stewart being questioned about not conducting formal interviews with more than two or three candidates. But Stewart was defiant in saying that he felt comfortable with the profile he set up and the candidates that he considered and interviewed.
Stewart reportedly had formal interviews with Berhalter and Óscar Pareja, and the GM added on Monday that there was a third, unnamed finalist who ended up not being available. Stewart said he wasn’t concerned that the lengthy timeline ended up ruling out that candidate.
Cordeiro wouldn’t rule out Berhalter’s brother as the next CEO
Gregg Berhalter’s brother, Jay, is one of the most powerful figures in U.S. Soccer. Jay was not involved in the hiring of Gregg, but he was involved in the hiring of Stewart, who conducted the search process for the coach. With Flynn having announced that he plans to leave his position as CEO, the most powerful position in U.S. Soccer, Cordeiro was asked on Monday if he would rule out Jay Berhalter as a candidate for the CEO position due to concerns about a conflict of interest.
“We’ll have internal candidates. Jay could be one of them,” Cordeiro said.
That’s a significant concern.