New US coach Berhalter vows ‘attacking’ approach

NEW YORK (AFP) – United States coach Gregg Berhalter said on Tuesday he will seek an attacking style of football when his reign gets under way next month with a friendly international against Panama.

Berhalter, who was named as head coach on Sunday after a year-long search by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), was formally introduced at a media conference in New York on Tuesday.

The 45-year-old has been handed the task of rebuilding the United States men’s team after its shock failure to qualify for this year’s World Cup finals in Russia.

Berhalter said after viewing the performances of the team over the past year – when the squad was managed by caretaker boss Dave Sarachan – he was confident enough talent existed to build a successful team.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about the failure of the past,” Berhalter told reporters.

“But over the past year I have seen a group of young talented players, a group with potential. I saw a group that needs development and direction. And when I look at the whole squad, there’s quality.”

Gregg Berhalter is introduced as the new US national team head coach. – AFP

The former US international defender, a veteran of two World Cup campaigns, said he would encourage his teams to pursue an aggressive approach.

“The idea is that we’re an attacking-based team that wants to create goal-scoring opportunities by disorganising the opponent,” Berhalter said. “We’ll do that in a number of different ways. Ball circulation, breaking lines – that should be the DNA of the team.”

Berhalter’s first game in charge will be against Panama in Glendale, Arizona on January 27, followed by a friendly against Costa Rica in San Jose, California on February 2.

“My first priority is reaching out to players and getting to know them,” Berhalter said. “What I’m focused on is how can we do more – setting the stage for team culture, expectations and style of play. I know it’s going to be a challenge but I know there’s quality in this group.”

The USSF has come under criticism for the length of time it took to identify Berhalter as the man to take the national team forward.

The selection process started with a 33-name long list of domestic and international candidates which was narrowed to 11, before being whittled down to five. Berhalter was picked from a final three-man shortlist.

USSF President Carlos Cordeiro defended the lengthy selection process, and was adamant Berhalter was the best man for the job.

“We have no regrets at all,” Cordeiro said. “We got our best guy. We couldn’t have moved any faster. I think we’ll look back in a couple of years and be very happy with the decision.”