Berhalter hiring: What was learned today about the process and his immediate plans

Photo: U.S. Soccer/ISI Photos

New U.S. men's national team coach Gregg Berhalter was introduced to the media on Tuesday. The Glasshouses in New York's Meatpacking District was the site of the event. Also on hand were U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro, U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn and U.S. men's national team general manager Earnie Stewart.

Here's what was learned today about what went into hiring Berhalter, the Columbus Crew head coach and sporting director for the last five MLS seasons, and what his immediate plans are.

Berhalter's hiring process. It took 415 days from the day Bruce Arena handed in his resignation as men's national tea head coach in the aftermath of the USA's 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago that knocked it out of the World Cup to Sunday when Berhalter's appointment was announced.

The long wait in between came in for intense criticism, and U.S. Soccer executives went to painstaking lengths to try to explain why it took so long and what into the search.

These were the key dates we knew:

Dec. 4.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, who hired the last three permanent men's coaches (Bob Bradley, Jurgen Klinsmann and Arena) announces that he will not seek reelection.
Dec 10. U.S. Soccer's board of directors approves the hiring of men's and women's national team general managers, both new positions.
Feb. 11.
Cordeiro is elected U.S. Soccer's new president to replace Gulati.
June 6. Stewart, the Philadelphia Union sporting director, is announced as the men's national team general manager.
Aug. 1. Stewart assumes his position as men's national team general manager.
Nov. 11. Berhalter's Crew is eliminated from the MLS playoffs.
Dec. 2. U.S. Soccer's board of directors approves Berhalter's hiring.

What happened Aug. 1 and Dec. 2 and who did Stewart interview and when did Berhalter enter the picture?

In announcing Berhalter's hiring, U.S. Soccer provided background on the hiring process -- from the Base and Added Value qualifications Stewart used to assess candidate to an initial list of 33 coaches that was then reduced to 11 candidates who scored highest on the qualifications. He had what were termed "conversations with candidates on the list" and reduced the list to two finalists.

The Athletic's Paul Tenorio tweeted that Stewart said he spoke to eight of the 11 candidates. Stewart said at the press conference he narrowed the list down to five candidates, then three finalists but one of them -- still unknown -- took another job before he could formally interview him. The one other finalist besides Berhalter was reported by Yahoo Sports' Doug McIntyre to be FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja, who has since taken the head coaching job at Tijuana.

The New York Times' Andrew Das reported that Stewart first contacted Berhalter about discussing the job in late August. By then, Berhalter's name had emerged as a leading candidate but at a September round table with media before the USA-Brazil match in New Jersey Stewart downplayed having any special relationship with Berhalter, with whom he played on the 2002 U.S. World Cup team and against whom he had played in the Netherlands during their club careers.

Stewart then met with Berhalter, the Times reported, in Columbus and Chicago, where U.S. Soccer's headquarters are located, and in October Berhalter flew to Miami, where Cordeiro, lives, and gave a four-hour presentation on his vision for the team to Cordeiro and Flynn. The nature of Pareja's meetings is unknown.

Berhalter's first steps. Berhalter's job begins by reaching out to a core of national team players and introducing himself. He will attend MLS Cup and then head to Europe to talk with U.S. men's national team players. But he will only have limited opportunities to gather players before the Gold Cup, which kicks off for the USA June 18 at Minnesota United's new stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Here are those dates:

Jan. 7. Camp opens in Chula Vista, California.
Jan. 27. Friendly against Panama in Glendale, Arizona.
Feb. 2.  Friendly against Costa Rica San Jose, California.
March 18-26. FIFA international break (two friendlies to be confirmed).
June 4-11. FIFA international break (two friendlies to be confirmed).

The January camp will likely be without most or all of the foreign-based players.

“What I’m focused on," Berhalter said on Tuesday, "is how can we do more, how can we do more outside of camp, what communication can we get to the player to prepare them for the learning that’s going to take place in camp."

Berhalter's goals for the January camp are "setting the stage for team expectations, team culture and style of play. We can get a head start by working with the group in an intensive period in January, and then integrate the European players into the squad in March.”

He will work on that integration process immediately.

“That’s the teaching part that we need to be progressive with," he said, "talking about supplemental materials, taking about video libraries, talking about sending webinars to players, as much as we can to push the envelope on this we need to try to do."

2 comments about "Berhalter hiring: What was learned today about the process and his immediate plans".
  1. Bob Ashpole, December 5, 2018 at 1:26 a.m.

    Not one word about his staff. Isn't that the first step?

    Not your fault, Paul, but I don't feel any more enlightened now than 10 minutes ago.

    That last quote sounded like a Congressman on capitol hill.

    On January 7th he is going to be "setting the stage" for the team's style of play. Wish I could be there to see that. Not being sarcastic. I am really curious as to what USSF thinks the MNT style of play should be. 

  2. Wooden Ships, December 5, 2018 at 5:43 p.m.

    I’d love to see us comply with the international schedule. 

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