The US men's national team – and, to put it bluntly, the US Football Association as a whole – is infected again in crisis. And the whole thing makes you wonder if anybody has learned lessons from the monumental failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Gregg Berhalter's USMNT lost 2-0 to Canada in the Concacaf Nations League in Toronto on Tuesday, a loss that was deserved, a loss that was historic (the first time in 34 years that Canada defeated the USA) and a loss that would probably have been even greater. It was the most recent example that the US, against whom it was always hard to compete against the best teams, lost that identity in the last five years of free fall.
It was one thing to lose 1-0 to Mexico in the 2019 Gold Cup final. But losing to the Mexicans 3-0 (without fulfilling the basics) and losing to Canadians 2-0 in a competitive game is something completely different.
Berhalter – as under Jürgen Klinsmann and Bruce Arena – the US is worse than the sum of their parts. The talent that is there is asked by Berhalter to choose a tactical approach that is not appropriate for the players who prefer a more direct style than this (combined with press)) would help the ball in the opponent's half of the field hold. If Berhalter does not adapt now, he should soon be unemployed.
We've gotten too used to seeing pictures of Christian Pulisic, a talent of the generation, in a moment of torment, no matter if the scene was after the fiasco in 2017 in Trinidad and Tobago or after Pulisic in the 60th minute away from Berhalter against Canada. (The coach later said that Pulisic suffered from flu-like symptoms, although the player said he was fine.) Pulisic was not at his best on Tuesday, but he was the Americans' best hope to be back in the game.
But the problems do not just affect Berhalter and his team. The US Football Association has created this situation. Rather than taking one silver patch of the World Cup qualifying mistake – the ability to use a year that most other nations did not have and start rebuilding – USA. Football was wasted a year and hired Berhalter in December 2018 when he accepted the job in December 2017. If Berhalter would install a complex new system, that would have been 2018, not 2019.  Worse, the process of hiring a berhalter was not even a real process. General Manager Earnie Stewart interviewed only two candidates, Berhalter and Óscar Pareja. What type of job search in any area involves questioning only two candidates? Stewart did not interview Jesse Marsch. He did not interview Tata Martino, who was interested but was disqualified for the ridiculous reason she did not speak English well enough. He has not interviewed former Spanish coach Julen Lopetegui, who has literally turned to US football to show his interest. He interviewed neither Bob Bradley nor Tab Ramos, the coach who has led the US team in the quarter-finals of the last three U20 World Championships.
And for this, Stewart was recently given a . promotion from the men's national team to sports director for the entire association, including the world champion USWNT? Seriously?
But here's the kicker: Although Stewart has decided to dismiss Gregg Berhalter, it's very likely that Stewart will call directly soon to wait for it – Jay Berhalter, Gregg's brother, who remains the leading candidate to be named as the new CEO of US Soccer (instead of Dan Flynn). This is the same Jay Berhalter, who recently created a poisonous workplace in the New York Times story, citing complaints that he had created a toxic workplace within the association.
The culture of the US Football Association has long been called a clubby and island, resistant to change, quick to excommunicate who rocks the boat (see: Michelle Akers, Hope Solo, Eric Wynalda) and too slow to black Americans or to welcome Latinos. (The Spanish-language Twitter page of the USSF has not been posted since November 2018).
And despite all the obvious upheavals of the USSF presidential campaign with eight candidates in late 2017 and early # 18, the result was pretty much the status quo. The acting Vice President of the Federation, Carlos Cordeiro, won the presidency. The same people who led the association on a daily basis, Flynn and Jay Berhalter, continued their positions. The association has continued its business relationship with Soccer United Marketing, owned by MLS owners, and has raised serious questions about conflicts of interest. And the lawsuits against US football continued to grow. The association is now being sued by the USWNT players for gender-based discrimination. by Hope Solo in a separate case; from U.S. Pat. Soccer Foundation, a charity; from the NASL; and Relevent Sports.
Is it any wonder that US football fans are angry?