England meet the USA in their second Group B game at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar on Friday, looking to build on the flying start made with Monday’s 6-2 win against Iran. Victory will see Southgate’s side qualify for the last-16 with a game to spare.
The US were held to a 1-1 draw by Wales in their opening game, though a similar result against England would still keep their last-16 hopes on track ahead of a final day meeting with Iran.
Former US international Berhalter took over the national team role following the country’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and has the second-youngest squad in Qatar, drawing comparisons with the job Southgate was handed when taking over a struggling England side in the wake of their Euro 2016 implosion and Sam Allardyce’s brief stay in the dugout.
“I think when he first took over it was similar to the position I first took over,” Berhalter said. “He was trying to re-shape the identity of the team, re-focus, working with a younger group of players, so in that case very similar.
“Just following some of the things over the last months, the pressure in the English media and in England in general is tremendous and that’s different. These guys [the American media] give me a hard time every once in a while but it’s not of the magnitude that Gareth gets.
“But we all know this is a results-orientated business and he’s done a great job on the field. I’ve been saying it for the last year-and-a-half, his record in major tournaments has been outstanding, there’s no denying that. Fourth place in 2018, second-place finish at the Euros. He’s done a great job with his team and they got off to a great start, they’re a formidable opponent. It’s going to be a tough game for us.”
Berhalter contacted Southgate for advice on managing in international football soon after taking the US job and has previously described the England boss as a mentor. The pair have stayed in touch since but communication has been sparse since the two countries were drawn alongside one another in Qatar.
“I’ve been Whatsapping him but I haven’t seen the blue tick mark so I don’t know what’s going on!,” Berhalter joked. “No, we kind of took a little hiatus but we’ll pick up our relationship after tomorrow.”
Berhalter spent a brief period in English football with Crystal Palace just after the turn of the century, but says the profile of the Premier League is unrecognisable in the US two decades on and hailed the role the division has played in developing some of his side.
“I remember when I was in Holland [as a player] getting home from my games on a Saturday, watching Match of the Day and that was the only real highlights you got,” he added. “Now, every Saturday morning in America you’re waking up to watch the Premier League.
“Everyone now in America seems to have a team they support. It’s an incredible league and we’re really proud to have our players playing in that league. To me it’s similar to the NFL in terms of how dominant it is and how commercially-orientated it is.”