United States men's national team manager Gregg Berhalter has declared last week's scene at the U.S. Capitol "a low point" in the nation's history.
A mob of violent demonstrators loyal to U.S. President Donald Trump descended on Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, storming the Capitol during the joint session of Congress certifying President-elect Joe Biden as Trump's successor. The siege led to five deaths.
Berhalter addressed the attack as his squad began a training camp in Florida over the weekend.
"The way I see this is, this is a low point for us," Berhalter said, according to ESPN's Jeff Carlisle. "There's a lot of room to improve as a country, and it is something where we can all be better examples, we can all be better citizens.
"When you're watching (the riot), you know it doesn't jive at all with what we know as America to be. It's not who we are as a country, and it's disappointing to see, but all we can do is be good examples and continue our efforts in trying to make change. And so I think that's the important message to the team: Our work isn't done just because the year changed, and we need to keep going and persevere."
Berhalter's men saw their schedule thinned in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the group still worked to address social justice issues and set a positive example following the killing of George Floyd in May. Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died in police custody after a white Minneapolis officer kneeled on his neck for over seven minutes.
The American players who traveled for a friendly against Wales in November all wore jackets bearing the slogan "Be the Change" during warm-ups and the national anthems. The players also had personalized messages such as "Black Lives Matter" and "World Peace" on their tracksuits.
Seattle Sounders and U.S. star Jordan Morris also addressed the national team's continued responsibility as a group representing his country on the world stage.
"I think obviously we all realized how horrific those events were, and we all understand that there's a need for change in this country and in a lot of ways," the forward said. He added: "I think it's also in these hard times, we hope to be, as a team, a positive light because I know that these times are super challenging and there's so much going on - so much stress."