‘we can beat anyone in the world’

Gregg Berhalter will lead the US men’s national team at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as the American side takes on Wales, England and Iran in Group B. 

Berhalter first took control of the American side in 2018, following the team’s failure to qualify for that year’s edition of the World Cup.  In the wake of the dismay, he was seen as the solution to steer the USMNT’s young talent to success. 

The American made his debut as USMNT coach on January 28, 2019, defeating Panama 3-0 with goals from Djordje Mihailovic, Walker Zimmerman and Christian Ramirez before going on a four-match unbeaten streak. Berhalter also guided the American to victory in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League, defeating Concacaf rivals Mexico 3-2 in extra-time to lift the trophy. 

Most importantly, he inspired the USMNT to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2014, after concluding the Concacaf cycle in third place on the table with 25 points in 14 games and a record of 7W-3L-4D.  

Now, expectations are high. As the team continues to prepare, the head coach explained his vision for the tournament.

“We are really looking at it as two tournaments. We have the group phase, in which you need to be in the top two to earn the right to play in the knockout stage. And we cannot get ahead of ourselves and think we’ll fly right into the knockout stage. The group stage is very competitive; every play, every action matters to the result and to getting through to the next round,” Berhalter said exclusively to 90min

“We take that first, and then we try to move on to the knockout stage. And once we’re there, it gets fun because anything can happen. We know that if we play our best game on that day, we can beat anyone in the world. So, why not try to keep going and keep advancing.”

But it won’t be easy. 

The American side must take on England, Wales and Iran, while dealing with several injuries and a young roster. Midfielder Luca de la Torre’s participation at the World Cup remains in question, while Sergino Dest, Weston McKennie, Matt Turner and Gio Reyna only recently returned from injuries that saw them sidelined for weeks leading up to the international tournament. 

“What I do believe is on our best day, we can beat anyone in the world,” Berhalter reiterated in a sit-down interview with ESPN’s Sam Borden. “That’s the mentality that we want to have as a group. Does that mean we’re going to win the World Cup? No, not necessarily. But we think that the first step is getting out of the group, finishing in the top two. And the second step is, in knockout games, playing our best possible game and seeing how far we can go.”