U.S. Soccer promises ‘comprehensive review’ after Copa America exit

Jul 2, 2024, 7:50 AM

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)...

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JULY 01: Christian Pulisic of United States argues with Referee Kevin Ortega during the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 Group C match between United States and Uruguay at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on July 01, 2024 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

After the U.S. men’s national soccer team failed to get out of the group stage at Copa America despite a favorable draw and home-pitch advantage, the United States Soccer Federation vowed to conduct a review of the results.

The main focus of that examination likely will be coach Gregg Berhalter, already a lightning rod with the team’s fanbase even before the U.S. lost two of its three Copa America matches and finished third in Group C.

The U.S. fell 1-0 to Uruguay in Kansas City, Mo., on Monday, four days after losing 2-1 to Panama in Atlanta. The only victory for the 11th-ranked Americans came in the tournament opener against 84th-ranked Bolivia. Panama, which finished second in the group after defeating Bolivia 3-1 on Monday, is ranked 43rd. Uruguay, which swept its three matches, is rated 14th.

More on U.S. Soccer & Copa America

U.S. Soccer wrote in a statement late Monday night, “Our tournament performance fell short of our expectations. We must do better.

“We will be conducting a comprehensive review of our performance in Copa America and how best to improve the team and results as we look towards the 2026 World Cup.”

Berhalter was asked directly after the Uruguay defeat whether he felt he is the right person to lead the U.S. squad into the 2026 World Cup, which it will co-host. He replied, “Yes.”

Berhalter added, “We know we’re capable of more, and in this tournament, we didn’t show it, it’s really as simple as that.

“You look at the stage that was set with the fans in this tournament, with the high level of competition in this tournament, and we should have done better. We’ll do a review and figure out what went wrong and why it went wrong, but it’s an empty feeling right now, for sure.”

While the U.S. team under Berhalter has dominated traditional rival Mexico in CONCACAF competition, the coach’s results in major tournaments have been mediocre.

Berhalter, 50, first got the job in December 2018 following a lengthy search that came after the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

The squad advanced out of its group at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, recording draws against Wales and heavily favored England before edging Iran 1-0. The Netherlands beat Berhalter’s side 3-1 in the Round of 16.

In the aftermath of the Qatar tournament, Berhalter was dragged into a public spat with player Gio Reyna and his family. The midfielder’s parents accused Berhalter of committing domestic abuse decades earlier. Meanwhile, Berhalter’s contract with U.S. Soccer expired, and the federation went through two interim coaches in 2023 before ultimately rehiring Berhalter.

The ongoing Copa America was the U.S. team’s last major test before 2026. The United States, Mexico and Canada will have no qualifying matches ahead of the next World Cup, as all received automatic berths as co-hosts.

Midfielder Weston McKennie told The Athletic regarding Berhalter, “I believe we all have a comfort with Gregg and we all understand him and we’ve had him for a long time. He’s progressed the team very far from where we started off four or five years ago.

“I think the connection that we have with him is what’s important, in having a coach that players … would run through a brick wall for him, players that listen to him. And so I think whatever happens, happens, but I think if he’s the coach, we’re all happy, get up, dust off, learn and keep moving forward. That’s the only thing you can do now.”

–Field Level Media

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