U.S. Soccer Faces Criticism After Early Exit from Copa América

United States v Uruguay - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024

The United States Men’s National Team’s (USMNT) Copa América campaign ended earlier than expected, raising questions about the team’s potential and the future of its coach, Gregg Berhalter.

The US hosted the tournament this summer, hoping to make a strong statement on the global stage, especially with the 2026 World Cup on home soil. Following a promising start in the opening group stage game, the USMNT’s performance began to falter.

On Monday night in Kansas City, Uruguay defeated the USMNT, eliminating them from the tournament. This loss, combined with Panama’s victory over Bolivia, ensured Panama’s advancement to the quarterfinals.

Berhalter’s actions during the game further fueled speculation about his future. After Bolivia scored against Panama, tying their game, Berhalter seemed unconcerned, assuming the US would advance. However, Uruguay scored seconds later, effectively ending the US’s tournament hopes. Although a VAR review confirmed the goal, the American players and coach criticized the officiating.

United States v Uruguay - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024

Despite the team’s efforts, particularly by captain Christian Pulisic, the USMNT couldn’t score, ultimately leading to their elimination. The loss follows their previous defeat to Panama, which put the team in a precarious position going into the match against Uruguay.

Berhalter’s future as coach is now in doubt. His leadership has been questioned before, even after leading the US to the Round of 16 in the 2022 World Cup. Last year, a controversy arose involving the parents of one of his players, Gio Reyna, leading to an investigation and Berhalter’s rehiring in June 2023.

Following the USMNT’s early exit, soccer pundits and fans are calling for a change in leadership, believing that a fresh perspective is needed to inspire the team before the 2026 World Cup. Chants of “Fire Gregg” echoed throughout the Kansas City stadium.

In response to the team’s performance, US Soccer released a statement: “Our tournament performance fell short of our expectations. We must do better. We will be conducting a comprehensive review of our performance in Copa América and how best to improve the team and results as we look towards the 2026 World Cup.”

The early elimination from Copa América has cast a shadow over the USMNT’s future. The team’s performance has raised questions about Berhalter’s capabilities, and the upcoming review will likely determine his fate as coach.