The United States men’s soccer team announced Friday that it was rehiring Gregg Berhalter as its head coach for the run-up to the 2026 World Cup, concluding a monthslong, worldwide coaching search with the same man who had led the team from 2019 to 2022.
The move capped several whirlwind months for Berhalter, 49, who guided the American men to the round of 16 at the World Cup in Qatar but did not have his contract renewed in the aftermath of the tournament.
Instead, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced that it had started an independent investigation into his conduct after accusations made by the parents of one of his players that Berhalter had physically abused his wife, Rosalind, in an incident three decades ago, when they were dating as college students. The Berhalters, who remain married, reconciled shortly after the incident and have talked openly about it after the accusations this year.
The investigation, which concluded in March, cleared Gregg Berhalter of any wrongdoing — meaning he did not improperly withhold information from the organization — and opened a path for him to be rehired. It was unclear at that time, though, if that would happen.
“It was a great feeling, if you can imagine what the last six months have been like,” Berhalter said at a Friday news conference about returning to the team. “I was really motivated to come back and really make a go of it this next World Cup and make the nation proud.”
Matt Crocker, who was hired as the team’s sporting director in April, led the coaching search, describing it as a grueling, data-driven process. Crocker declined to reveal any of the final candidates, who were put through a 10-hour day of tests and interviews, but noted that they had included current and former coaches from top clubs and national teams around the world.
Crocker also pushed back against the notion that the past six months — during which the team has been led by a pair of interim coaches — had been a waste of time, given that the program had essentially ended up where it started.
“It might look like as if there’s been a lost period of time,” Crocker said. “But sometimes you need time to reflect and to move forward.”
In that vein, Crocker said Berhalter would not formally rejoin the team until after the Gold Cup, which begins at the end of this month, because he thought there was still a period of big picture strategizing that needed to take place.
The team is also scheduled to play in the final of the Concacaf Nations League on Sunday.
“What we didn’t want to create was the environment of, Gregg puts his boots straight back on and slides back into the environment and it’s very much business as usual,” Crocker said.
The investigation of Berhalter this year was prompted by information from the parents of the United States forward Gio Reyna. Reyna’s mother, Danielle, had been a teammate of Rosalind Berhalter’s at North Carolina, and his father, Claudio, had played with Berhalter on the national team.
Although the families had been close friends for years, the Reynas became upset with Berhalter during the World Cup because of Gio Reyna’s limited role. After the tournament, Berhalter made public comments about an unnamed player at the World Cup who “was clearly not meeting expectations on and off the field” and whom the staff had considered sending home. Gio Reyna later revealed in an Instagram apology that he was the player in question.
After those comments became public, the Reynas went to U.S. Soccer officials with details of the decades-old incident.
Berhalter said he had not spoken with Reyna since the World Cup but identified the mending of that relationship as one of his first priorities.
“I’d certainly acknowledge that there’s work to do,” Berhalter said, “and Gio is an important player to this team. He’s an extremely talented individual, and I have the obligation and the commitment to coach him like I coach every other player.”
In recent days, key players on the men’s team, including the star forward Christian Pulisic, had suggested that they supported Berhalter’s return.
“I think he’s done a great job,” Pulisic told reporters of Berhalter after a 3-0 victory over Mexico on Thursday night. “I’m glad we can just pick up where we left off,” he added.
Berhalter, who has a 37-11-12 record as head coach of the team, said the past six months of his life, while turbulent, had been productive. He traveled to England to observe and speak with coaches in the Premier League. (He also met with a number of American players, though he described those interactions as primarily social.)
Berhalter, while upbeat about the team’s performance at the last World Cup, also had time to reflect on its shortcomings at the tournament, in which it lost to the Netherlands in the round of 16. He mentioned its execution on set plays and in its transition offense as areas that could be improved.
“We’re going to have to learn how to beat big opponents in knockout games,” Berhalter said. “That’s the next step for this group.”
Berhalter was not quite sitting around and waiting to be asked back to the team. He acknowledged on Friday that he had been speaking with Club América, one of the powerhouses of the Mexican league, about its coaching vacancy.
But he had also told the Mexican club that he would need to see out the interview process with the United States, that he would regret it for the rest of his life if he passed up the opportunity to return to his old job.
“Thankfully, they were accommodating,” he said of Club América, “and I got the job, obviously. And now I’m here.”