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'I'm a pleased man' - Stewart insists Berhalter's job is not in danger as USMNT prepare for Canada rematch

10:03 PM WAT 12/11/2019
Gregg Berhalter USMNT 06302019
The U.S. Soccer general manager insists that the coach will not be dismissed any time soon

U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart insists Greg Berhalter's job is safe no matter how the U.S. men's national team fares in an upcoming Nations League match against Canada.

Berhalter has come under fire in the aftermath of the USMNT's last Nations League match, a 2-0 loss to Canada that set up a must-win clash in Orlando this Friday.

As a result of the loss in Toronto, the U.S. will now have to take down their northern rivals if they hope to seal advancement to the next round of the newly-created CONCACAF tournament.

The defeat only added to a series of miserable results for the U.S., who were outdueled by Mexico in the Gold Cup finale this summer before being battered by El Tri in September.

Stewart acknowledged that the loss to Canada "wasn't good enough", but a similar performance and result won't be enough to put Berhalter's job into jeopardy.

When asked on a conference call with reports if Berhalter's job is safe, Stewart replied: "We're looking at the future, so yeah. When I evaluate Gregg and the coaching staff, and what I've seen today, I'm a pleased man. An individual result is not going to change that. I think that answers the question in itself."

He added: "I do think there's been progress, I really do. What we've seen in the Gold Cup is that in CONCACAF we have a really good level, and that we can play the game we want to play. Getting to a place where we can do that over 90 minutes, that's the place we need to get to. That progression is there, except against teams like a very good team in Mexico and a very good team like Uruguay, it becomes a little bit more difficult."

Much of the criticism surrounding Berhalter's tenure has centered around his style, with the former Columbus Crew boss looking to replicate his possession-based, play-out-of-the-back system that was highly successful during his tenure as an MLS boss.

However, it may not be the best for the current player pool, a young group that appears more equipped for a counter-attacking system.

Stewart, however, says he believes the players can adapt and that adapting will be necessary for the program to take a step forward.

"Our players showed that they can perform at a really, really high level," he said. "The question is not so much, can these players do that, because they've already shown that they can.

"What I would say is we need to do that over 90 minutes, and that's something that we're constantly talking about. How can we get there? How can we progress to have enough players to keep that and maintain that for 90 minutes."

With World Cup qualifying less than a year away, the U.S. is rapidly approaching a cycle that is sure to be the subject of increased scrutiny following the disaster that was the 2018 qualifying cycle. 

Even with that in mind and understanding that the impact of recent results, Stewart says he is not concerned with missing out on a spot on the biggest stage once again.

"I have no fear that we're not going to qualify for the World Cup," he said. "I'm very, very confident about that."