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Berhalter set to return as US coach

Gregg Berhalter is set to be re-appointed as head coach of the US national team, six months after he left the role, a source with knowledge of the discussions told AFP.

Berhalter, who guided the US to the round-of-16 at the World Cup in Qatar, before they were eliminated by the Netherlands, did not have his contract renewed at the end of last year.

Both The Athletic and ESPN reported late Thursday that an announcement could come as early as Friday. A US Soccer spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

The United States beat Mexico 3-0 on Thursday in the semi-final of the CONCACAF Nations League, and after the game, Captain Christian Pulisic gave his backing to Berhalter’s return.

“I would say I’ve supported him in the past. If you can see, today’s (win) is a testament of the work that he’s put into this team,” he told reporters.

“It’s a testament to him and a testament to this team the way that we just continued and put on performances like that.”

While Berhalter’s contract renewal in December had not been guaranteed, his future was in doubt after he found himself at the center of a bitter public row with player Gio Reyna and his family.

That led to an investigation by US Soccer into allegations of domestic violence in 1991 involving Berhalter and his then-girlfriend, now his wife.

The report into the physical altercation, which Berhalter did not deny, concluded that there was “no legal impediment to employing him”.

US Soccer announced in January that they were conducting a search for their next coach and hired consultancy firm Sportsology to help them identify candidates.

Englishman Athony Hudson, Berhalter’s former assistant, took interim charge of the team but left last month for a club job in Qatar and the team is currently under the charge of another of Berhalter’s former staff, BJ Callaghan.

US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone and new technical director Matt Crocker had both indicated that a new coach would not be appointed until later in the summer.

US Soccer had stated that Berhalter was a potential candidate but it remains a surprise that he is set to be handed the job.

American former Leeds United coach Jesse Marsch and former France international Patrick Vieira were also linked with the position.

Berhalter has plenty of critics, especially among the team’s fans on social media, but Pulisic said the team’s performances were ample evidence of the coach’s ability.

“If that’s not enough evidence, then that’s alright. People are going to hate no matter what,” he said.

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