B.J. Callaghan, 41, went into coaching after playing college ball at Ursinus College. He coached youth, high school and college. After seven years coaching with the Philadelphia Union, as academy director and serving as Jim Curtin’s first-team assistant, he became been a U.S. national team assistant coach in January 2019.
On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, Callaghan got the call that he would step up to interim head coach, replacing Anthony Hudson, who had been in the interim role since Gregg Berhalter’s contract expired at the end of 2022.
“Anthony and I worked close together for a long time,” Callaghan said, “so it was never a surprise to me that Anthony had personal ambitions to be a head coach again at the club level … I certainly didn't know that it was going to happen this quick and this immediate … but in professional sports a lot changes in a short amount of time.
“I'm just super happy that he's happy, going to pursue something that he's had his eye on.”
Callaghan’s first task was to name a 24-man roster for the Concacaf Nations League final four, at which the USA faces Mexico in a June 15 semifinal, which will be rematch of the USA’s 3-2 final win in the inaugural 2021 Concacaf Nations League. (The squad will be reduced to 23 ahead of the June 5 deadline.)
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
Drake Callender (Inter Miami) 0/0 (25)
Josh Cohen (Maccabi Haifa/ISR) 0/0 (22)
*Sean Johnson (Toronto FC/CAN) 12/0 (34)
*Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG) 26/0 (28)
*Sergiño Dest (AC Milan/ITA) 24/2 (22)
Chris Richards (Crystal Palace/ENG) 8/0 (23)
*Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG) 34/2 (25)
Miles Robinson (Atlanta United) 21/3 (26)
*Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER) 4/0 (20)
Auston Trusty (Birmingham City/ENG) 1/0 (24)
*Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC) 39/3 (30)
Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA) 6/0 (21)
*Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP) 14/0 (25)
*Weston McKennie (Leeds United/ENG) 43/11 (24)
*Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP) 25/0 (20)
*Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER) 18/4 (20)
Alan Soñora (FC Juárez/MEX) 2/0 (24)
*Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG) 30/7 (22)
Folarin Balogun (Stade Reims/FRA) 0/0 (21)
Taylor Booth (Utrecht/NED) 2/0 (22)
Ricardo Pepi (Groningen/NED) 14/6 (20)
*Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG) 58/23 (24)
*Tim Weah (Lille/FRA) 29/4 (23)
Alex Zendejas (Club América/MEX) 3/1 (25)
Note: *Members of the USA's 2022 World Cup squad.
• Included in the roster is center forward Folarin Balogun, who switched allegiances from England to the USA last month. The 21-year-old, who was born in New York and moved to England as a 2-year-old, played for Reims on loan from Arsenal for the 2022-23 French Ligue 1 season and has scored 20 goals with one game to play.
Callaghan was asked about the high expectations of Balogun following his exceptional season in France.
“We’ve got a clear style of play that we’ve been building over the last four years,” Callaghan said. “And that is the only thing that we're focused on with Flo, is getting him up to speed with how we play. And I think as long as we do a good job, spend a little extra time with him before training, after training and reflecting on different things, then he'll be able to reach all those expectations."
“But he still has to come in and compete. Ricardo Pepi is coming off a great season, and it’s going to be fun watching these guys compete.”
Pepi scored 12 goals nd added three assists in 29 Dutch Eredivisie games for Groningen, which managed to score only 31 goals while finishing in last place. Pepi also scored three goals for the USA in Concacaf Nations League wins over Grenada and El Salvador.Israeli Ligat Ha'Al title with Maccabi Haifa. (With four goalkeepers called in, one will likely be dropped to reach the 23-player limit).
CONCACAF NATIONS LEAGUE
Semifinals, Thursday, June 15
Panama-Canada 7 pm
USA-Mexico 10:00 p.m. ET
Third-place game, Sunday, June 18, 6 pm ET.
Final, Sunday, June 18, 8:30 pm ET
TV: Paramount+, Univision, CBS Sports Network.
“It's a group that has a lot of talent, a lot of experience in big games and big moments,” Callaghan said. “Whenever you're putting together a roster, you're faced with tough decisions and we're also faced with a number of injuries to players. But I thought we were able to put together a really strong group, for two very important matches, which is a testament to the depth of the player pool that we have here with the men's national team. ..
“The main objective that we were trying to accomplish here with the Nations League and looking to the Gold Cup [June 24-July 16], is how we can expose the most amount of players in our player pool to make them battle-tested in knockout and tournament group game type of environments.”
On selecting a roster so shortly after becoming interim head coach and whether he communicates with Berhalter:
“Anthony and I worked together, day to day. We would spend more time with each other than we spend with our significant others or any of our friends. But, no, he didn't just hand me a list. We worked diligently through this building it together, having communication with clubs, having communication with players.
“We were well into the process when I got the phone call. It was an easy transition of sort of dotting the I’s and crossing T's. …
“I can tell you that Gregg is somebody that I hold in high regard. We were obviously coaching colleagues, but we're also friends. So we talk a lot. He's somebody that I bounce ideas off, but in no way would he ever step over the line of telling people who to pick or anything like that.”
Callaghan, who joined national team staff as "as an assistant coach and strategy analyst," has mostly served as an assistant coach during his coaching career.
"Whether it was with Philadelphia or the opportunity with Gregg, and then lastly with Anthony, I've always tried to sit in the chair with my head coaching hat on, thinking about it, challenging head coaches on different aspects," he said. "I've been lucky to be intimately involved in almost every aspect of these teams that I've been part of, whether it's the game-planning, culture-building or the management of the staff."
He said the complete coaching staff has yet to be finalized.