Former USWNT player Heather O’Reilly has praised head coach Gregg Berhalter for his work with the U.S. men’s national team after inspiring the side to place 10th in FIFA’s latest world rankings.
When speaking to Yael Averbuch West on 90min’s podcast Football Americana, O’Reilly also said players Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie have the ability to lead the USMNT to greatness.
“I got to give a shout out to Gregg,” the 2015 Women’s World Cup winner said.
“I’m going to back the Berhalter clan to the end. I think that he’s done a really nice job and what an amazing crop of young players right now, led by of course Pulisic, McKennie, those guys, really bright stars that are doing things day in and day out again, day in and day out, week in and week out standards of having to perform at the highest level. I think that that’s a differentiator.
“Not to be unfair to other leagues throughout the world and especially here in the US, but to just have that demand for eliteness on a week in, week out level will just raise the national team. Now we’re in the top 10 from the last FIFA ranking.”
O’Reilly is no stranger to international football. The midfielder featured for the USWNT from 2002 to 2016, winning three Olympic gold medals on top of the 2015 FIFA World Cup.
The United States is set to co-host the 2026 World Cup alongside Mexico and Canada, the year O’Reilly believes the USMNT could break into the top four by then.
“So we’re already at 10. So you’re asking how in theory do we get from 10 to four and how long? I think we can get there for 2026. I really, really do,” the retired forward said.
“What that would mean is that we have a couple of big wins every year from now until that point and that we do really well at the world cup that we’re hosting. And I think that that’s possible.
“We’re a top 10 FIFA participant now. We have to be able to say that, believe it, not accept anything else and yeah, I guess just not think that we can’t hang with the big boys anymore because clearly we’re in the top 10 so we can. I think we can get there by 2026.