USMNT’s Greg Berhalter Talks World Cup Preparation, Says Team ‘Can Beat Anyone’ In Qatar


DOHA, Qatar – Eight years ago, Jurgen Klinsmann famously said it was impossible for him US Men’s National Team To win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He told me this in an extended interview for The New York Times Magazine a few months before the tournament, then repeated it at a press conference in Sao Paulo just before the USMNT’s opener. Klinsmann felt it was important to be forthright, but many American fans – and some of Klinsmann’s own players – were troubled by what felt like a defeatist attitude.

On Saturday, in an exclusive interview with ESPN two days before his U.S. team’s World Cup opener, head coach Greg Berhalter pondered the same question. He paused for a moment, then smiled.

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“What I do believe,” he said, “is that on our best day we can beat anybody in the world. Anyone.”

Berhalter has instilled that same mindset in his young team, instilling in them the idea that the only way to make history is if they believe they can. To help further this kind of thinking, Berhalter recently held a team meeting in which Eric Thomas, a popular motivational speaker with a remarkable personal story of rising above homelessness, spoke with the players about the incredible power of faith. spoke about.

While Berhalter, a well-known sneakerhead, said he has not yet chosen which shoes he will wear in the first match against the USMNT walesHe didn’t hesitate when asked how many pairs he had brought with him to Qatar: seven, one for each possible game leading up to the final.

“Look, it’s a great honor to play in the World Cup, but we don’t want to be the only participant,” Berhalter said. “We want to perform.”

To be clear: Berhalter is not predicting that America will be champion. He is simply focusing on the notion that success rarely comes without belief. It was something Berhalter first learned as an international player and now works to instill as a manager.

After all, this has been — by far — Berhalter’s biggest platform as a coach. He took office four years ago, charged with restoring the US to respectable status after the disastrous failure of the 2018 qualification cycle. At least, he has done so, overseeing a generational overhaul of the US team that has included recruiting star-level dual nationals. Yunus Musa And timothy wowand the rise of the genius prodigy christian pulisic, live rayna, Weston McKenney, Tyler Adams And Branden Aaronson,

Berhalter, however, wants more. His preparation for these next three matches has increased in intensity over the past week, as he and his coaching staff have pushed each other to try and consider every possible scenario, leading up to the group stage matches. Can happen during one of the.

If that sounds perfect, that’s because it is; Berhalter is known for his gravitas toward data and analytics, and he’s determined to take preparation for the game in any direction.

What will America do if they are a target above? One goal down? down two? a man upstairs? one man down? How will they handle it if one of their players gets injured? What if the opposing star goes down quickly? Berhalter wants to make a plan for all of them. The scenario that worries him most? About which he had not thought before.

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“We have time now, we have had the last few months,” he said. “When you’re on the field and on the sidelines and the crowd is loud and there are pressure moments – if you’re not prepared, I think it hinders decision-making.”

Berhalter knows there will be challenges. First choice players have been ruled out due to injury. extreme temperatures and very late kickoff times and three Group B rivals (Englandwales, Iran) with significant pedigree and experience. There’s no pushback, no match in which America is a significant favorite.

But there is also determination. There will be thousands of American fans supporting the team in Qatar. Millions more will watch and hope in the United States. It will have that youthful mix of brashness and bravado that yes, can sometimes lead to naivety, but can also turn into magic.

Berhalter’s job is to lead. To inspire. To put our players in a position where they can perform at their best when it matters most. The journey is starting from Monday. And unlike its predecessor, Berhalter doesn’t yet know where it will end.

“We think the first step is getting out of the group,” he said. “And the second step is, in knockout games, to play our best possible game and see how far we can go.”

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