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Gregg Berhalter was fired as coach of the U.S. men’s soccer team on Wednesday after his team’s first-round exit from the Copa America raised doubts about whether he was the right person to take over at the 2026 World Cup, a person familiar with the decision told the Associated Press.

The person spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the U.S. Soccer Federation had not yet made the announcement. The person said an announcement would likely come later Wednesday.

Berhalter’s second stint as coach ended with high hopes ten months after he returned to the bench. He declared that the team’s goal was to “change soccer in America forever.” During his second stint, the U.S. team recorded seven wins, six losses and one draw. His overall record is 44 wins, 17 losses and 13 draws.

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter looks on before a Copa America Group C soccer match against Panama in Atlanta, Thursday, June 27, 2024.

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter looks on before a Copa America Group C soccer match against Panama in Atlanta, Thursday, June 27, 2024.

AP Photo/Mike Stewart

Sporting director Matt Crocker has rehired Berhalter and will also make recommendations for his successor. The team will play friendlies against Canada and New Zealand in September.

Possible successors to Berhalter include Jürgen Klopp, Thierry Henry and Marcelo Bielsa, as well as Jesse Marsch, Hugo Pérez, Pellegrino Matarazzo, David Wagner, Steve Cherundolo, Jim Curtain, Massimiliano Allegri and Mauricio Pochettino.

The salary could be a problem.

Berhalter earned $2,291,136 in 2022, including a $900,000 bonus for helping the Americans qualify for the World Championship and reach the second round. A top men’s coach could put pressure on the USSF to increase the salary of newly hired women’s coach Emma Hayes.

Only 23 months to go until the World Cup comes to the USA for the second time and the Americans will play their opening game on June 12, 2026 in Inglewood, California. The only competitive games with a full player pool until then will likely be in the CONCACAF Nations League.

Berhalter, who turns 51 on Aug. 1, was the first American to coach the national team after playing for the team at a World Cup. He was hired as the U.S. coach in December 2018 after playing for Hammarby (Sweden) (2011-13) and Columbus Crew (Major League Soccer) (2013-18).

He led the U.S. to CONCACAF Nations League titles in 2020, 2023 and 2024 and a B team to another CONCACAF Gold Cup title in 2021. His players strongly supported Berhalter, saying he fostered a culture that kept the group together.

That support led Crocker to rehire Berhalter five months after his original contract expired, pending an investigation into a decades-old domestic violence allegation. The Reyna family had brought it to the USSF’s attention because Berhalter limited Gio Reyna’s playing time at the World Championship. A law firm hired by the USSF said there were no legal impediments to reinstating Berhalter.

His critics cited a lack of success against teams outside the region and difficulties traveling against Central American rivals. The U.S. secured the region’s final automatic World Cup spot on goal difference and had the second-youngest team at the 2022 finals in Qatar. The U.S. squandered a second-half lead in a 1-1 draw with Wales, drew 0-0 with England and beat Iran 1-0 to reach the knockout rounds, where the Americans played poorly and lost 3-1 to the Netherlands.

Players showed a lack of discipline: defender Sergiño Dest received a red card for arguing with a referee in Trinidad and Tobago last November, and winger Tim Weah was sent off in the Panama game for punching an opponent in the head.

US coaches did not perform well in the second cycle.

Bruce Arena led the team to a quarter-final appearance in 2002, their best since 1930, but then failed in the group stage in 2006.

Bob Bradley’s team reached the second round in 2010 and earned him a four-year contract extension, but he was fired by the USSF eleven months later after the Americans blew a two-goal lead and lost to Mexico in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Jürgen Klinsmann replaced him and led the team to the second round of the 2014 World Cup, but was fired after the final round of 2018 qualifying opened with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 defeat in Costa Rica. Arena returned and the U.S. lost on the final day of qualifying in Trinidad and Tobago, ending a streak of seven consecutive World Cup appearances.

While the new coach takes over players like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, who have had success at European clubs, goalkeepers Matt Turner and Ethan Horvath as well as Reyna have not been able to gain any playing time at first division clubs.

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