Gregg Berhalter: “We’ve been adapting for the last year and a half and. That’s just something you get used to.” (Photo courtesy of U.S. Soccer).

By Michael Lewis Editor

Just in case Major League Soccer locks out its players if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement isn’t finalized by Thursday, Feb. 4, U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter has back-up Plan A and Plan B.

With a busy season ahead for the program, with Olympic qualifying in March, the Concacaf Nations League final four in June, the Concacaf Gold Cup in the summer and World Cup qualifying set to begin in September, Berhalter said Saturday that he was ready to adapt.

“This is something between the Major League Soccer owners and the board and the front office and obviously the players union,” he said during a Zoom media conference call. “We’re hoping that league starts on time. But if it doesn’t, we’ll adapt. That’s what these this new reality is about. We’ve been adapting for the last year and a half and. That’s just something you get used to.

“We’d be hopeful that they would be well underway by then and playing by then. We’re hopeful that that the players do get playing. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

For the USMNT and Under-23 squads to play at their potential, they have to be match fit in terms of players performing for their respective club teams. If the start of the season is delayed, that would be a major crimp into Berhalter’s original plans.

But don’t worry. He will be able to field a team, especially for the FIFA international window in March. The USA plans to play twice in Europe from March 22-30.

“The first scenario would be getting them to camp early in preparation for the European fixtures in March,” he said. “The second scenario would be taking an all-European team in March. The plan is to go to Europe. We’ve done that already due the COVID-19.”

Berhalter was referring to a pair of games in Wales and Austria in November.

“My intention would be to bring our strongest team and that certainly includes players from Major League Soccer,” he said. “But we’ll just have to see. We’ll see how that shakes out. I know the guys are focused right now. They’re fit. It would be nice if they can build on that fitness with their clubs, and then join us in March. But we’ll see. We’ll take it day by day.”