Columbus Crew's Gregg Berhalter silent on future amid links to USMNT job

Columbus Crew SC coach Gregg Berhalter declined to speak about his future or the United States national team's coaching vacancy after his team was eliminated from the MLS playoffs on Sunday night.

Berhalter, who for months has been widely considered the favorite to become the next U.S. coach, watched Columbus let a slim first-leg lead slip away in a 3-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

But asked after the game if he wanted to comment on his future plans, Berhalter said simply, "No."

However, Berhalter later wiped his eyes when asked how he would want his tenure as Crew SC coach to be remembered if Sunday did his mark his final game in charge after five years.

"I don't think we need to talk about that right now," he said after a beat. "What's in Columbus is identity, the way they're playing. We've given the players belief and made them better, and that's what we've done for a long time."

The job of permanent U.S. coach has been vacant since October 2017, when Bruce Arena resigned following the team's World Cup qualifying failure. Since then, Dave Sarachan has managed the team on a caretaker basis.

U.S. general manger Earnie Stewart said in September that he hoped to fill the position by the end of the year, and the end of Columbus' season could lead to some movement.

Stewart has said he a specific profile in mind for the next manager.

"It's somebody that has to have a 'We' mentality, who wants to work together," Stewart said in September. "That's important. In this day and age I don't think one person can do the whole job, especially a country as big as this."

Stewart and Berhalter played on the U.S. team together, though Stewart has cautioned that their relationship is more professional than overly friendly.