Berhalter optimistic US will train in Qatar before World Cup

BRADENTON, FLORIDA (AP) — Having cancelled a training camp in Qatar that was to have started this week, United States (US) coach Gregg Berhalter is optimistic his team will train in Doha at some point before that nation host the 2022 World Cup.

The American men planned to train at the Aspire Academy from January 5-25, but the US Soccer Federation called off the trip last Friday, a day after a US military air strike killed a top Iranian military commander. Players, most from Major League Soccer (MLS) teams, instead reported to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, where the team held a two-hour workout on Tuesday.

“Some things happen that are out of our control,” Berhalter said after the training session. “With the turmoil in that region right now, we wanted to move venues.”

The US have previously held the overseas camps, including in advance of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

“It’s a great venue, great training facility over there,” Berhalter said. “There’s probably 10 European clubs there now as we speak. So, I think we’ll have an opportunity to get back there.”

United States head coach Gregg Berhalter. PHOTO: AP

“When you look back at the World Cup’s that we’ve played in, we generally go beforehand and get the guys used to the environment,” Berhalter added. “We think it’s a great tool to get the guys accustom to the environment because it is different there.”

Berhalter told his team this week that they must overcome the unexpected.

“We talk all the time about dealing with adversity, and so this is just a chance,” defender Walker Zimmerman said. “Our schedule got shuffled around. Now we’re here and we’re excited.”

No players had arrived in Qatar when the decision to cancel the camp was made. Three staff members already were there: Managing Director of Administration Tom King, Team Administrator Sam Zapatka and Equipment Manager Kyle Robertson.

The US are preparing for a CONCACAF Nations League semifinal against Honduras in June and begins World Cup qualifying in September.

“Things change pretty quickly,” forward Jordan Morris said. “We have no control over that. So we just deal with the situation and come here and get ready for a really important year. I think everyone is ready to get 2020 going.”

The US failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, ending a streak of seven straight appearances in football’s showcase. Berhalter was hired in December 2018. He led the team to 11 wins, five losses and two draws in his first year, including a 1-0 defeat to Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.