Gregg Berhalter spoke to Bleacher Report in an exclusive AMA on Wednesday, during which the U.S. men's national team coach explained when Borussia Dortmund midfielder Gio Reyna will receive his first call-up to the senior squad.
Reyna is the name on a lot of people's lips, but Berhalter also identified 20-year-old midfielder Jonhny Lucas and Ajax defender Sergino Dest, 19, as burgeoning talents on the international scene worth watching.
The 46-year-old also offered his take on the Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo debate, hinting that the former's overall talent and accomplishments might sway him.
Berhalter even took time to describe his tactical blueprint for the USMNT and what his expectations are for the team's path to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The former Columbus Crew SC boss also imagined how youth would give him a potential edge in a scrap with ex-U.S. chiefs Jurgen Klinsmann, Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena, should the quartet ever find themselves locked together in a steel cage.
Here are some of the best questions and answers from Wednesday's chat:
@jcohen6: Can we expect Gio Reyna to get his first senior call-up for the next camp
Gregg Berhalter: Yes.
@Yoyce: What are your thoughts on the Gio Reyna England rumors?
Gregg Berhalter: Again, in this case, it's less about specifically Gio and more that we wanna create the environment that players want to be in. Our youth national teams do a great job of nurturing the players and preparing them for professional careers and preparing them for the men's national team, and at the end of the day when players have choices, we hope that we've done enough along the way to maintain those players.
@utahjazzz: Who is the GOAT? Ronaldo, Messi or someone else?
Gregg Berhalter: Oh man, that's a tough one. That's a tough one. I think, in terms of—I would go with Messi. If I had to win one game I might choose Ronaldo, but I think that from just his body of work and how he's changed the game and some of his actions and goals, I would go with Messi.
@KalebC21: Who is a player for the USMNT that not many people know about, but we will soon?
Gregg Berhalter: Johnny Lucas.
@Andrew_4: What was your first reaction to Sergino Dest choosing the USMNT?
Gregg Berhalter: You know, for us, we were on the inside of it, you know. And again, for us, it was a great moment but it's also a moment where you credit a lot of people that have done work before you—whether that's a U17 team, a U20 team, you know giving him an environment where he felt supported and he felt like he can be relied on. And so it was a great moment for us, I think a great moment for US Soccer, having these guys opt to play for the United States. And I think the future's bright for Sergino.
@Clevefan16: Who's the most promising USMNT prospect under the age of 21?
Gregg Berhalter: That's our whole team, basically. We have a lot of young players, which is great. When you name guys like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Josh Sargent, Gio Reyna, Sergino Dest, these are all top-level players that have bright futures ahead of them. Tyler Adams is another one. So I would put those guys in a group.
@BballGiant32: How do you honestly project the next World Cup going for us? No promises, just your outlook on it. Thanks for everything you do!
Gregg Berhalter: I think that first and foremost we have to qualify, that's vitally important. But I think that we will be in a position to compete and get out of the group. And then once you get out of the group, it's anything can happen. But I envision us being in a position where, you know, we're ready to advance out of the group and go from there.
@Gregdemare: Do you plan to keep the USMNT on a 4-3-3 system?
Gregg Berhalter: Um, I think we need to be able to learn to adapt and make small adjustments to the system to be most effective against opponents. So does that 4-3-3 turn into a 4-3-2-1, does it look like at times a three in the back, and 3-4-2-1, I think we want to be flexible and we want to teach the group to have that tactical flexibility.
@twny: Do you support the US eventually adopting a promotion/relegation system? Do you think it's reasonable that our nation structures the game differently to everyone else?
Gregg Berhalter: I think it is reasonable that we structure it differently than everyone else. I think there's something to be said for how the league will evolve and what that will eventually look like. And I can envision there being something different than what it is now. I don't know what that means; I don't know if that is promotion/relegation, but I can imagine the structure, when more teams come into the league, taking a different form.
@Stephen08: Where do you see the USMNT in 5 years?
Gregg Berhalter: I see us making a lot of progress on the youth development side, on the professional side, and in the full national team. So if we continue to make this progress and players continue to advance and progress in their own careers, I think we're going to be in a good spot in five years.
@Benitothesmooth: What's your all-time Mount Rushmore of USMNT (1 striker, 1 midfielder, 1 defender, 1 goalkeeper)
Gregg Berhalter: That's a tough one. That is a tough one. Are we talkin' active or non-active?
Three-way tie for goalie—can I do a three-way tie? Between Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel and Tim Howard
And defender? Best defender in the history of US Soccer. I'm going to look at it a little bit differently—from a Mt. Rushmore standpoint: Alexi Lalas. He's the total package.
@Zmalik15: If you, Bob Bradley, Jurgen Klinsmann and Bruce Arena were locked in an MMA cage, who would win?
Gregg Berhalter: I dunno, I think that Bruce is really competitive so you know, I wouldn't be surprised.
Jurgen is also really competitive, but he was known as a diver when he played.
And Bob—Bob's tough, he stands on the sidelines, he looks very tough. So I dunno. And I know he rides the bike, and has a very strong base and very strong legs.
I have the age on them—I'm younger than all of them—so maybe my endurance could, and I can be scrappy when I need to be.
It would be a tie. Can you tie in MMA?