Gregg Berhalter has revealed he and his coaching staff are preparing for the biggest week of their professional lives as the USMNT fight to secure a spot at the 2022 World Cup.
Sitting second in their qualifying group on 21 points, Berhalter’s side have a final trio of qualifying matches to get through, with a tough trip to fierce rivals Mexico followed by a home tie against Panama and an away match against Costa Rica.
Five points will be enough to clinch the US’ spot at Qatar 2022 regardless of results elsewhere. Despite his experience coaching in Europe and taking the Columbus Crew to MLS Cup, Berhalter is putting this latest task on a pedestal above all.
“One thing I told the staff in our meeting as we started camp was, this is probably the biggest week of our lives as professional coaches. And that’s just honest,” the 48-year-old told reporters on Wednesday. “I’ve coached in Columbus and I coached in an MLS final, but this is bigger than that.
“And what I reassured the group is we’ve all coached in three games before, we’ve been through qualifying already. We’ve coached a lot of games before and we have a process, and just stick to the process. And I think that’s what’s making it easy both for the staff and the group is we just stick to the way we work. It’s been successful so far, and that’s what we continue to do. And I think the second thing is just staying in the moment.”
This isn’t just a big week for the USMNT coaching staff. Many of the players in Berhalter’s group are looking to reach the World Cup for the first time.
Star man and key forward Christian Pulisic feels the gravity of the situation more than most, having been a part of the side that lost in Trinidad and Tobago in 2017, ending their hopes of reaching Russia 2018. The Chelsea forward’s tears were one of the defining images of the post-match fallout.
“I’ve been looking forward to it for years now, without accomplishing it last time around,” Pulisic said. “It’s been a massive goal of mine and this team, so I’m obviously excited and we’re going to give everything because I and this team 100% want to play in a World Cup … we have the opportunity now.
“We definitely don’t want to go through that again.”