CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP)Gregg Berhalter says he wants to remain as the U.S. men’s national team coach through the 2026 World Cup and move forward from the disclosure he kicked a woman in 1991 who later became his wife.
Danielle Reyna, a former American player who was the college roommate of Rosalind Santana – Berhalter’s future wife – informed the U.S. Soccer Federation of the 1991 incident on Dec. 11. That came after Berhalter made remarks at a leadership conference that did not identify a player by name but were critical of 20-year-old Gio Reyna, the son of Danielle Reyna and former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna.
”I think the worst part of it for me is my heart aches for my wife because it was her story to tell if she chose to or not,” Berhalter said at a Harvard Business Review event Thursday. ”That’s what just really saddens me.”
On Tuesday, when the USSF said it had launched an investigation into Berhalter, he also issued a statement admitting to the kick and calling it ”a shameful moment and one that I regret to this day.”
”Our entire family is saddened by these events,” Berhalter said Thursday. ”It was something that we want to move forward from. … The events of that night 31 years ago and the lessons learned from that basically set the foundation for our relationship moving forward, and it’s a loving relationship, a devoted relationship and we have four amazing kids to show for it.”
Berhalter was hired as the men’s coach in December 2018 and became the first American to play for and coach the U.S. at a World Cup. The Americans were eliminated last month with a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the round of 16, and Berhalter’s contract expired at the end of December.
Berhalter used Gio Reyna for just 53 minutes at the tournament. He told the forum on Dec. 6 that he almost sent a player home for lack of effort, remarks that were clearly about Reyna. The lack of playing time prompted complaints by Claudio Reyna to USSF sporting director Earnie Stewart.
Stewart said Wednesday the 49-year-old Berhalter remains a candidate to stay on, pending the investigation by an outside law firm and the USSF review of the team’s four-year cycle.
”It’s a fantastic group of players, a super high potential in this group and we’re competing in the World Cup in North America in 2026, so it would be an amazing challenge for this team,” Berhalter said Thursday.
”When we started in 2018, we wanted to change the way the world views American soccer,” he added. ”And I think when you ask around the world now about our team, the world sees us in a complete different light. But now it’s about being able to take that next step, and that next step is doing something that no U.S. team has ever done and that’s get to the semifinals and see what happens from there. So there’s a lot of great challenges involved and of course I’d like to continue my role.”
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