The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) ended its World Cup run in Qatar with a loss to the Netherlands in the round of 16. Given the USMNT’s young core, most pundits considered advancing out of the Group stage and into the round of 16 a positive step. For others, it was a huge leap when you consider the team failed to even qualify for the World Cup in 2018.
In the aftermath of the World Cup, however, things have gotten messy for Team USA. There was the team’s noted lack of scoring during the World Cup, as well as the limited minutes for rising star Gio Reyna, coach Gregg Berhalter’s remarks on Reyna’s work ethic afterward, and now, an apparent feud involving Reyna’s parents, Berhalter, and the US Soccer Federation.
With all that in mind, where does the USMNT go from here? In order to move forward and make a better showing in 2026, three areas need to be addressed sooner rather than later.
During the World Cup, coach Gregg Berhalter was lauded for his tactical decisions. That was especially true during the Group stage match against England when Berhalter’s decision to go with a flat 4-4-2 formation neutralized England’s midfield and allowed American forwards more room and speed to attack England’s backline.
However, Berhalter was also criticized for his decision to use Gio Reyna sparingly, which seemed to limit the team’s scoring ability. His post-tournament remarks criticizing an unnamed player’s work ethic and attitude (generally believed to be Reyna) have now mushroomed into a scandal of its own with revelations of Berhalter’s 1991 assault of his girlfriend (who is now his wife) and the fact that the information was revealed by Reyna’s mother.
While all of the above has played out, Berhalter’s contract expired at the end of 2022 and, for now, Anthony Hudson has been named as the USMNT’s interim coach for its upcoming friendlies. Does US Soccer go forward with Berhalter? If so, will there be a rift between Berhalter and Gio Reyna, who will be 24 and in the prime of his career in 2026? That decision is likely the first thing that will need to be decided as the USMNT moves on from the Qatar World Cup.
The Young Core
In Tim Weah, Brenden Aaronson, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Yunas Musah, and Giovanni Reyna, the USMNT has perhaps its most talented young core of players ever. But potential is one thing, and playing in the top European leagues doesn’t always equate to success in the World Cup. While those players are all expected to improve and gain experience in the next four years, the USMNT needs to continue nurturing those core talents to build upon the ‘22 team’s success.
Whether that job falls to Berhalter, Hudson, or another team manager, what’s most important for the continued growth and success of the USMNT is the ongoing improvement of that young core. Many consider Weah, Aaronson, McKennie, Adams, and Reyna generational talents. The future success of the USMNT hinges on making the most of that talent while they’re in their prime.
At age 24, Christian Pulisic is the undisputed star of the US Men’s National Team. But, while he was surrounded by potential in the ‘22 World Cup, it was obvious that the USMNT will need Pulisic to continue his evolution as a premier player. Though he was just the fourth American to notch three or more goal contributions in a World Cup, Pulisic will likely need to avoid injuries and notch up his game as not only a Premier League star, but on the world stage as well.
In addition, with the 2026 World Cup being held in North America, there will be plenty of added pressure on Pulisic’s shoulders. How he responds to that pressure, in the years ahead, and in the next FIFA World Cup will likely play a big role in how far the USMNT advances. But, regardless of his own abilities, remember it took Lionel Messi five appearances before winning a World Cup with Argentina. Pulisic’s future World Cup success will likely depend not only on his own skill but on the talent and growth of his teammates as well.