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Report: Zinedine Zidane Rejected Chance to Replace Gregg Berhalter as USMNT Coach

Erin WalshJanuary 8, 2023

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 22: Former Real Madrid player and manager Zinedine Zidane looks on prior to the LaLiga Santander match between Real Madrid CF and Sevilla FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on October 22, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
Angel Martinez/Getty Images

The U.S. Soccer Federation offered Zinedine Zidane the chance to take over as head coach of the United States men's national team, to which the Frenchman rejected, according to ESPN's Julien Laurens.

"Zidane, via his agent Alain Migliaccio, was asked if he would be interested in succeeding Gregg Berhalter on the U.S. bench, to which the Frenchman politely declined," Laurens wrote.

Berhalter's contract as head coach of the men's national team expired Dec. 31 following the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, where the Netherlands eliminated the U.S. in the round of 16. The 49-year-old's future as the team's coach remains in flux as he has not signed a new deal.

Additionally, the USMNT have hired an independent firm to investigate Berhalter for an act of domestic violence committed in the early 1990s, putting his status with the federation further into question.

Berhalter released a lengthy statement via his social media accounts on Jan. 3 detailing an incident when he kicked his then-girlfriend Rosalind during an argument in 1991. The pair are now married and have four children.

"During the World Cup, an individual contacted U.S. Soccer, saying that they had information about me that would 'take me down'—an apparent effort to leverage something very personal from long ago to bring about the end of my relationship with U.S. Soccer," Berhalter wrote in the statement.

Gregg Berhalter @GreggBerhalter_

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ESPN's Jeff Carlisle and Kyle Bonagura reported that Danielle Reyna—the mother of USMNT midfielder Gio Reyna—contacted the federation with the information about Berhalter.

Danielle Reyna admitted to alerting USSF sporting director Earnie Stewart about the incident in a statement to Fox Sports. She also told The Athletic's Paul Tenorio that she contacted Stewart "just after the news broke that Gregg had made negative statements about my son Gio at a leadership conference."

Reyna saw a significantly little playing time at the 2022 World Cup, a decision fans in the United States were puzzled by.

After the tournament concluded, Tenorio and Sam Stejskal of The Athletic reported Reyna "showed an alarming lack of effort in training" after he found out he wasn't going to be a starter in the opening match against Wales and that his lack of intensity "caused significant frustration within the team."

Berhalter discussed the situation without naming Reyna prior to that report, saying the team almost sent him home from Qatar.

It's unclear what kind of impact this investigation will have on Berhalter's future with U.S. Soccer, but if the federation is reaching out to someone like Zidane to take over as manager, it's possible Berhalter's time with the team is done.

Zidane has not coached since he walked away from his job with Real Madrid in May 2021. The 50-year-old is said to be keen on being the next manager of the French national team, but that will have to wait as Didier Deschamps just received an extension through 2026 after leading France to back-to-back appearances in the World Cup Final.

In addition to the United States, both Brazil and Portugal expressed interest in hiring Zidane.

If the USMNT does not re-hire Berhalter, it's unclear who the other candidates for the job might be. U.S. Soccer announced this week that Anthony Hudson would oversee the USMNT camp later this month, which includes friendlies against Serbia and Colombia.