USMNT World Cup Mailbag: Gregg Berhalter Fallout, A Plea For USA At Copa America, Expectations For 2026, More

CBS Sports football analyst Grant Wahl is in Qatar reporting on his eighth men’s World Cup. He will write mailbag columns for CBS after every USMNT game. For the rest of his writing, including magazine-style articles, interviews and breaking news, see GrantWahl.com.

Doha, Qatar — The USA are eliminated from the World Cup after a 3-1 defeat by the Netherlands in the round of 16. But you still have many questions and I have some answers. Let’s go!

“How likely is our inclusion in the 2024 Copa America? It would be great for the team and the fans to have a high-stakes competition outside of the World Cup cycle.” — @ethanbing

For me it’s very simple: you. absolutely have to play at the Copa America 2024. Incidentally, Mexico and Canada should do the same. There will be no World Cup qualifiers, so the US needs to get as many competitive situations as possible to prepare for 2026. The only question for me is whether the US should push to host this Copa America. Ecuador seems to have lost interest in hosting the tournament and it would be a good practice run for the cities that will host the 2026 World Cup games.

“Which of the 26 guys on the US roster doesn’t have a realistic chance of returning in 2026?” — @ToluThomas

Not many. Tim Ream turns 38 so it seems unlikely. Others who would surprise me in 2026: Haji Wright, DeAndre Yedlin, Jordan Morris, Sean Johnson, Aaron Long and Cristian Roldan.

“Which USMNT player braced himself for a transfer to a bigger or better situation?” — @AdamLawley

Tyler Adams has already shown at Leeds United he is an effective player in the Premier League and at just 23 years old he has a monster leadership capacity. Tim Weah could go to a club that would play him more than Lille. Yunus Musah just turned 20, and while he didn’t make everything shine here, he was pretty good. Walker Zimmerman is good enough to play in Europe and Matt Turner is good enough to be a starter anywhere in Europe.

“I have admittedly never seen Gio Reyna play but after all the calls for him to play I found his performance today underwhelming. Am I wrong in thinking it looked slow and not very dynamic?” — @JaredSerwer

The centre-forward isn’t exactly Reyna’s best position, but he’s played a bit better when he’s been moved outside. I think he would be most effective in a No 10 role. The fact is Reyna hasn’t produced as much for the USMNT to match what he’s shown at club level but he has had due to his injuries and his minor Game opportunities not so many opportunities with the national team here.

“Should Berhalter be blamed for starting Jesus Ferreira when he didn’t play a minute in the group stage, his last minutes of competition was on October 23 and he had an assist and zero goals in the five games before October 1 scored. 23 game?” — @downsjm

It’s not Ferreira’s fault but I think he should fail against the Netherlands for the reasons you mentioned. Playing zero minutes in the group stage and then having to start a World Cup play-off is pretty crazy when you think about it. Some of that had to do with Josh Sargent’s injury, but it also made more sense than ever to start Weah in the No. 9 and Reyna or Brenden Aaronson on the wing. The fact that Aaronson didn’t start a single game at this World Cup is amazing.

“We’ve been hearing for weeks that this is a young side and that getting out of the group should be counted as a success. Looking ahead to 2026: As a host country with a more experienced squad, should we have higher expectations? a minimum?” — @Todd9115

Yes. I think the expectations for USA in 2026 are to at least reach the quarterfinals and anything else would be considered disappointment. That’s both because of the support (and being at the top of the draw) that a host country brings, and the idea that the USA will have an even better team by then. But nothing is ever guaranteed. Qatar, despite being seeded as hosts, were absolutely terrible on the field here and ended up being the first nation eliminated from the tournament. Qatar was much better when they won the Asian Cup and reached the semi-finals of the Gold Cup. Not much has been said about why Qatar were so much worse than expected here, but they definitely were.

“So much from the USMNT big shots about how the country views the sport this year and then so much about pride and achievement after the loss. Is 1-2-1 against Wales, England, Iran and Netherlands really changing sport domestically? Is it that much to be proud of?” — @mollusk_

I think your tone is a bit exaggerated. World Cups are about how far you go, not how many games you win. The pinnacle of modern USMNT – reaching the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup – came with a record of two wins, one draw and two losses. But it’s still viewed very positively. The USA should probably have beaten Wales and then we would expect two wins in this tournament. But if you’ve watched the performances and listened to smart journalists from other countries, I think it’s fair to say that the US has gained a newfound respect here.

“Do you think fatigue played a role in the defences? If so, what substitutions should/could have been made that wouldn’t have hurt the group stage chances?” — @ruutn4uf

I do think that fatigue played a role in the defeat against the Netherlands. Tyler Adams, who never tires, was a step off the pace, including with the first Dutch goal, and other US players like Yunus Musah seemed to be working. It was interesting that the US players said after the game that they weren’t tired, but then again, you don’t expect them to say that. Sometimes as a journalist you just have to write what you see in a game. They looked tired. I think Berhalter could have done more rotation in the group stage. Nine US players started all four games, which puts too much stress on short turnarounds between games. Players like Kellyn Acosta, Joe Scally, Brenden Aaronson and Gio Reyna should have been given more time in this tournament.

“How big a mistake was not having Jordan Pefok in the squad? It seems like it would have been nice to have someone who can score goals at the highest level.” — @VanRouge

I get it. Pefok has scored goals at a higher level in the German Bundesliga this season than the No. 9 USA had here in Qatar. But the fact is that Pefok was freezing in the weeks leading up to the World Cup and doesn’t fit into the Berhalter system. I still would have liked to see Pefok there for moments when they were desperate for a goal.

“Your research shows that coaches aren’t much better off staying with their national teams after a World Cup. In that case, should the USMNT part ways with Gregg Berhalter (regardless of his merits)? And who should?” in the running to replace him?” — @GorelickRich

If I was in charge I would probably hire a new coach. This is no blow for Berhalter. It’s just that I don’t think it’s wise to keep national team coaches for more than one cycle. History shows that performance tends to drop in the second cycle. There are always exceptions like Jogi Löw for Germany and Didier Deschamps, but that’s not the rule. Even though Berhalter is a candidate, I think US Soccer should interview him and others for the future job. Find out if Jesse Marsch is interested in an interview. Have a look at Löw. See if there are other celebrity coaches that might be interested. This is an important decision.

CBS Sports football analyst Grant Wahl is in Qatar reporting on his eighth men’s World Cup. He will write mailbag columns for CBS after every USMNT game. For the rest of his writing, including magazine-style articles, interviews and breaking news, see GrantWahl.com.

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