(Reuters) - Ushering in a winning culture to the U.S. national team, still reeling from their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, will take time and patience, newly-appointed men’s head coach Gregg Berhalter said on Tuesday.
Berhalter, who was named U.S. coach on Sunday after a year-long search for a full-time boss, spoke about wanting to see his new squad accelerate in their development, but also stressed that there is no quick fix.
“As with any team building it’s a process,” Berhalter, 45, said at his introductory news conference in New York City. “I don’t want to use that as an excuse and say eight years from now we are going to be good.
“The process has to accelerate. And when you have quality players, when you have players that have the ability to learn you can accelerate that process a little bit.
“But what I’d say is that we want to see progress. Each and every camp you should expect to see development amongst the team. That’s my job.”
Berhalter, who was a defender for the U.S. at both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, joins the national team after spending the last five years with Major League Soccer side Columbus Crew, a stint that included a run to the 2015 MLS Cup Final.
He succeeds Dave Sarachan, who took over on an interim basis in October 2017 after the resignation of Bruce Arena, whose failure to steer the U.S. to the 2018 World Cup was considered by some to be the worst calamity in U.S. soccer history.
Berhalter’s first match as coach of the U.S. team will be on Jan. 27 against Panama in Glendale, Arizona, and he will no doubt be looking at that game as a way to show signs that things are on the right track.
“I am committed to working harder every day to build a team that the fans can be proud of,” said Berhalter.
“There is nothing more that our country wants right now than to be proud of our U.S. national team and I am committed to making it happen.”
Berhalter, one of one of 33 candidates for the coaching job, has a reputation as being a teacher with an almost obsessive attention to tactical detail.
Berhalter said that it was hard to truly evaluate the team that played under Sarachan, a stretch that was very much considered a rebuilding year, but that he did recognize a group of quality players, albeit ones that need better direction.
“My job and the job of this staff is to work as hard as we can and give the players belief,” said Berhalter. “We know they are quality players and I think with direction and belief we can achieve our goals.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis