Christian Pulisic says Reyna Berhalter saga is ‘childish’ and Berhalter ‘hugely unhappy’

Gregg Berhalter and Christian Pulisic after the USMNT World Cup exit. (Photo by Mohammad Karamali/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Christian Pulisic offered what appeared to be a careful endorsement to Gregg Berhalter in a recent interview with ESPN published a partial clip from this interview on Thursday.

When asked about the US men’s national team’s uncertain coaching search, with Berhalter out of contract and US Soccer suggesting a signing could wait until the summer, Pulisic gave a wide-ranging, reasoned response, saying that Berhalter ” was extremely unhappy to be in the position he is in now.”

Pulisic was of course referring to the saga started by the parents of his USMNT teammate Gio Reyna, which culminated this week with the release of an investigation into Berhalter’s past domestic violence and the Reynas’ interference and threats during the World Cup.

“In my opinion, everything that happened with Gregg is first and foremost [was] handled extremely childishly,” said Pulisic. “I think we’ve all seen what’s going on. I think it’s childish, it’s youth football, people complain about playing time. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but we’ll say that.”

And as for the coach search, which US Soccer says is dependent on finding a new sporting director, who will be primarily responsible for selecting the next coach who may not arrive until after two regional tournaments in June and July?

Pulisic initially said he would “give 100 per cent” to whoever, admitting: “I’m not here to appoint the next manager. It’s not my job.”

But then, after saying that Berhalter was “extremely unhappy”, he spoke out against the extended deadline that US Soccer has offered.

“Do I feel like we should just wait and wait? You know, I don’t think it’s necessary,” Pulisic told ESPN at his home in London. “Because I don’t have the feeling that we’re in a phase like we were after not qualifying [for the 2018 World Cup], where we need a complete rebuild. We don’t need a bunch of new people coming in and this and that. I think we have a strong core and I think a lot of people saw that. And we must continue with that.

“And so – it’s a difficult question for me. Because I think we want to continue that as soon as possible and build on this World Cup, this World Cup, which I think has had a lot of positive aspects, I will say. And I think we want to get started on that as soon as possible.”

Pulisic, who has recently recovered from injury, will join 12 of his World Cup team-mates and a supporting cast of other young Europe-based players for a brief USMNT training camp in Florida next week, the first since Qatar. But they’re being managed by interim coach Anthony Hudson, a former Berhalter assistant who does the boss work window-to-window.

US Soccer has said it has started the application process for the sporting director position, but has not offered a firm timeline for the hiring. It is also unclear how long the search for a coach would take once the new sports director is in place.

Of course, that process could be sped up if the new sporting director simply decides to bring back Berhalter – who was widely praised by Stewart, the outgoing sporting director, in an interview with Yahoo Sports as he prepared to leave US Soccer.

But with Stewart and former USMNT GM Brian McBride gone, and with the baggage of the Reyna saga, the external assumption was that Berhalter is now far from reclaiming the job.

After two games later this month, the USMNT’s next competitions are (probably) the Nations League finals on June 15 and 18, followed by the Gold Cup shortly after. If no new coach is signed by then, his first games of the autumn will be friendlies.

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