In the fifth installment of the "MNT in Europe" podcast series, U.S. MNT defender Gregg Berhalter checks in from Germany, where his club, Energie Cottbus, has just kicked off their new season. Berhalter offers his rendition of the Energie Cottbus battle cry, talks about their grueling preseason conditioning program and weighs in on the bright future of the U.S. national team. Catch the entire interview in the latest podcast.
On his preseason training regimen:
“It’s been challenging, to say the least. We actually had to run up the stairs of a ski jump. I think there were over 500 stairs in one go and it took over five or six minutes to get up the thing. The degree of steepness was unbelievable, and we had to do that four or five times, so to say we do some cross-training is an understatement.”
“You just have to grind through it. There are all sorts of tests, all sorts of running and all sorts of different things they do and it’s just a question of mentally getting through it because it’s long. It takes a lot out of you.”
On his responsibilities as the team captain:
“You always have pressure. You have pressure to perform, but then you add the other stuff. You have to meet with the president and meet with the board and do things like that that I’m not used to doing. You think of the captain where you’re just on the field and that’s it, but there’s a lot more to that which adds to stress. You’ve got to be the go-between in between the players and coach and there are a lot of other things to it, but I like the responsibility and hopefully I can do a good job in that role.”
On any personnel changes at Energie Cottbus in the offseason:
“We brought in four or five new players, some of whom are going to make a difference, which is good. We have a whole new board in place, a new president so there have been some moves. They’re trying to consolidate some of the debt and get things moving in the right direction. I think overall, it’s been a positive change for the club.”
On missing a game with his club to play for the U.S. MNT:
“They [Energie Cottbus] understand what’s at stake here for the U.S. team with World Cup qualifying but they’re not happy. I think the second league in Germany is a big enough league where it should be in tune with the international fixtures, but unfortunately it’s not, so unfortunately I’m going to have to miss a game.”
“Some guys, I don’t know if they understand it, but I don’t really have a decision in it. As captain, sometimes you feel like you’re letting the team down, but overall I think they understand and I know I’m doing the right thing so I’m not worried about it.”
On following the Gold Cup from Germany:
“It was covered a lot in the papers here, so I got to read about all the results. I didn’t get to see any of the games but I saw the results and followed that. The times were a little too late for me. I was going stay up and be a real supporter, but I just fell asleep. I didn’t make it.”
On the depth being developed in the U.S. MNT:
“I think it’s great that we have these younger players that are able to get games and play. I think it’s great how the MLS is formed, letting the younger guys play at a professional level. Overall, I really believe that this is a strong group of guys that we have together, probably the strongest ever, and it’s great to see that.”
ussoccer.com is the official site of U.S. Soccer, the governing body of soccer in the United States.