Gregg Berhalter has broken the US Men’s National Team (USMNT). If there was any doubt before, it should all be gone now. Following the 2-1 loss to Panama in the Copa America, it’s clear that Berhalter’s time is up as coach of the national team.

A crowd of 59,145 was on hand Thursday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to watch a disaster unfold. In a game where almost everything went wrong, it leaves the United States’ chances of reaching the Copa America quarterfinal in peril.

An action-packed 90 minutes

The US had a goal disallowed early and then had Tim Weah sent off for punching a Panamanian player in the back of the head. But they took the lead after a fabulous strike from Falorin Balogun. That’s when the wheels fell off.

Panama retaliated minutes later and tied the game. Then at halftime, Berhalter made three changes. Most notable was the switch from Matt Turner in goal to Ethan Horvath, with the former having been clobbered by a Panamanian attacker.

A back-and-forth second half ensued, which eventually saw Panama score the winner with less than ten minutes to play. At the last gasp, the US had a chance to tie after Panama had one of their players sent off for a foul on Christian Pulisic. But it was too little too late and Panama achieved a famous win.

Putting Berhalter’s team into perspective

US Soccer has been touting itself as the king of CONCACAF because of its success in the Nations League. But upon closer examination, that notion is detached from reality.

Not only did the USMNT fail to win last summer’s Gold Cup, they didn’t even make it to the final. They fell to Panama in the semi-final on penalty kicks. Panama has turned into a nightmare opponent for the US. In the last four meetings between the teams, Panama has won three of them.

It’s worth noting that before Berhalter’s appointment, the US had lost to Panama just once (in the 2011 Gold Cup). Panama beat the US in Panama City in 2021 during World Cup Qualifying. They eliminated the US from last summer’s Gold Cup, and of course, they beat the US Thursday night in Atlanta during the Copa America.

For a manager who has stated that the goal for this cycle is to “change American soccer forever,” Berhalter is making all the wrong moves.

Berhalter’s future with this team

After the game, Berhalter was asked about the refereeing. He declined to go into specifics and then bizarrely launched into a discussion about how his pregame focus for his team was about the referee instead of Panama.

In the post-match press conference, World Soccer Talk asked Berhalter if his job should be on the line after the defeat to Panama.

He replied, “That’s not for me to determine.”

Keep in mind that if the United States loses to Uruguay on Monday night, it may mean that the team will be eliminated in the group stage of a tournament where it has been to the semi-finals twice in its last three appearances. A loss to Uruguay means the US would have to depend on Bolivia to get a result against Panama.

Even more concerning is the fact that even if the United States defeats Uruguay, the US may not advance. Both the United States and Panama are tied on three points. However, the US currently has a better goal difference than Panama. All that could change on Monday night depending on the results from the Panama-Bolivia game and, of course, USA-Uruguay.

It’s important to remember that under Berhalter’s leadership, the team has failed to notch a win over a top 25 side in FIFA’s rankings other than Concacaf teams. Berhalter has now been in charge of the team for seven years. So getting a win against Uruguay on Monday night will be historic for Berhalter if it happens.

Berhalter’s time is up

Berhalter has broken the USMNT and must be fired before he can do any more damage to the team. Since he was re-hired, he has posted a record of 7-5-1 (W-L-D). Players that play incredibly well at top-flight European clubs, all of a sudden look like they’ve never played soccer once they get to national team camp.

Nor is the much-ballyhooed culture in the locker room proving to be as strong as they have been telling the public. Tim Weah’s red card was the second red card for violent conduct for a US player in their last five competitive fixtures after Sergino Dest was sent off in the away leg against Trinidad & Tobago in November.

A man who never should have been hired, and who never should have been re-hired, is on the precipice of destroying the greatest chance the nation has at achieving incredible success at a World Cup tournament in 2026.

The World Cup is coming to North American shores in two years. Will US Soccer allow the coach who has broken the USMNT to ruin the party for our country?

Berhalter’s time is up as the leader of this squad. We need a coach who can get the best out of this team. After all, if we can’t get out of a Copa America group with Bolivia, Panama, and Uruguay, that would be an embarrassment. Unless the USA can advance to the quarterfinals on Monday night, Berhalter has to be fired.

Photo: IMAGO / Agencia-MexSport.

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