Berhalter: U.S. in WC final in native N.J. a dream
For United States coach Gregg Berhalter, having the 2026 World Cup final played in New Jersey adds another layer of incentive, as he grew up close to MetLife Stadium, the venue that will host the championship match of the expanded 48-nation, 104-game tournament.
U.S. Coach Berhalter's Dream
United States coach Gregg Berhalter is excited about the possibility of playing the 2026 World Cup final in his native state of New Jersey. Growing up near MetLife Stadium, which will host the championship match of the tournament, gives him extra motivation to aim for the final.
Berhalter expressed his excitement in an interview, stating that it would be a dream come true to play in a World Cup final just 15 minutes away from where he grew up. He also emphasized the team's goal of making the country proud through their performance.
The final for the expanded 48-nation, 104-game tournament was awarded to MetLife Stadium by FIFA, and it will be the first World Cup spread across three nations, with Mexico and Canada also hosting matches.
Advantages of Playing at Home
Berhalter sees the advantages of playing the World Cup on home soil, especially with a talented core of young players like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams. He believes that having home support and playing in familiar surroundings can have a significant impact on the team's performance.
The United States team will train at their national training center in suburban Atlanta and play their opener at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. They will have the advantage of being in the same time zone for their matches, with games in Seattle and back at SoFi Stadium to conclude the group stage.
Berhalter also pointed out the example of Morocco, which made a surprising semifinal run in the last World Cup. He emphasized the diversity in the U.S. team, reflecting the diversity of the country, and hopes that Americans can identify with and support the team.
Upcoming Tournaments and Goals
As the host of the 2026 World Cup, the United States won't be participating in World Cup qualifiers. However, they have two tournaments lined up this year: the Concacaf Nations League and the Copa América.
Berhalter confirmed that defender Sergiño Dest will be part of the roster for the Nations League, despite being suspended for a match due to a red card. He emphasized the team's focus on developing and competing against the best in international soccer.
The U.S. team will face Jamaica in the semifinals of the Concacaf Nations League and will play Bolivia, Panama, and Uruguay in the group stage of the Copa América.