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Dreaming of World Cup final spot in native N.J., USMNT coach Berhalter

Gregg Berhalter, the coach of the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT), has an extra reason to be excited about the 2026 World Cup: the chance to play the final in his home state of New Jersey, near where he grew up. In a recent interview, Berhalter shared his enthusiasm, describing it as a dream come true to potentially compete just 15 minutes away from his childhood home.

The announcement by FIFA that the final of the 2026 World Cup, featuring 48 teams and 104 games, will take place at MetLife Stadium has added another level of anticipation for Berhalter and his team. This tournament will be unique as it will be spread across three countries, with Mexico and Canada also hosting matches.

For the U.S. team, preparations are already underway. They will train in Atlanta and kick off their campaign at SoFi Stadium in California on June 12. Continuing in the same time zone, they will play in Seattle’s Lumen Field a week later and wrap up the group stage back at SoFi on June 25.

Berhalter sees playing on home soil as a significant advantage, especially with a talented group of players like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams, who are all in their mid-20s. He hopes the team can replicate Morocco’s impressive run to the semifinals in the previous World Cup, emphasizing the diversity within the squad as a reflection of America itself.

As hosts, the U.S. team won’t need to participate in World Cup qualifiers this year. Instead, they will focus on two upcoming tournaments: the Concacaf Nations League and the Copa América, both of which will take place on home turf. Despite some challenges, such as defender Sergiño Dest’s suspension for a match, Berhalter remains optimistic about the team’s development and their ability to compete at the highest level of international soccer.

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