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United States Flame Out of Copa America to Uruguay in Arrowhead

United States v Uruguay. Copa America Quarterfinals on the line. A dogfight. A back ally brawl. A faceoff of will and athleticism spiced with skill and savvy.

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Credit: Thad Bell

Just before the end of the first half between the United States Men’s National Team and Uruguay in the decisive Copa America 2024 Group C match for each, US forward Christian Pulisic and US goalkeeper Matt Turner earnestly confronted the Uruguayan bench after US right back Joe Scally was dumped to the grass on the US’s right flank. Who would bend, and who would break would tell the tale of this feverish match. It was a dogfight in front of 55,460 vocal fans. A back ally brawl. A faceoff of will and athleticism spiced with skill and savvy.

In what is a large ask and perhaps an even larger task, the United States Men’s National Team most likely needed to defeat South American powerhouse Uruguay in each side’s final Group C matchup to advance to the Quarterfinal knockout stage in Copa America 2024. Goal difference will matter too after the 90 minutes at Kansas City’s GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. As long as the US remains at least tied with Panama (who play Bolivia at the same time) on points – each currently at three points – and has a better goal difference – currently a two-goal advantage for the US – the United States will go through. In plain terms, a draw or a loss to Uruguay and the US is left hoping.

Left hoping is not what US soccer fans – and sports fans in the United States – eat up. Fans across all investments are looking for something to cheer for in this match, something to say, “We belong.” Something that says in two years’ time, the USMNT will have a legitimate chance to make enough noise to push US fans from the start and through a lengthy residence in the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup for which the US will be the most prominent host.

A strong performance against one of the Copa America 2024 favorites may be enough. A win will be sure progress.

The lineup US Manager Gregg Berhalter etched on his lineup card is missing one name, talented winger Tim Weah. Weah chose to abandon sense and earn a red card in the 2-1 loss to Panama last Thursday. Berhalter, whose job may be on the line, replaced him with Yunus Musah.

Any hope of Uruguay shrugging off the match after having qualified for the Quarterfinals was dashed with manager Marcelo Bielsa’s first-choice lineup, unchanged from a 5-0 throttling of Bolivia on Thursday.

The US setup in a 4-3-3 from the whistle with Captain Christian Pulisic on the right wing, instead of his usual left.  An early tangle between US midfielder Weston McKennie and a Uruguayan forward in the US box and a few strong fouls from the South Americans set a feisty and intentional tone.

Off a corner in the 12th minute, much earned by the work of Gio Reyna, the US won the ball surging forward through the gut. Playing out wide, the resulting cross by Musah was gobbled up at the critical moment by the Uruguayan goalkeeper. But the US, once again, burst with purpose and drive.

Via “Jedi” Robinson and Reyna on the left flank, the US kept Uruguay busy and nearly vengeful. Only time would tell if the hard fouls suffered by the US would lead to more determination or eventual weariness.

A collision of US back Tim Ream and Uruguay’s Maximiliano Araújo in the 24th minute meant a delay and ended with Araujo being removed via stretcher and replaced by C. Olivera. Only moments later, forward Folarin Balogun of the US was sandwiched between the opposing goalkeeper and a defender. Balogun was able to carry on, though clearly hobbled. Only more incidents ensued. In the 41st minute, Balogun stepped off for Ricardo Pepi.

Uruguay began to carve through the middle of the US defense with unsettling pace and precision as the half neared an end. Yet, any long ball played by the favorites went mostly awry.

To cap the half, Pulisic and US goalkeeper Matt Turner would earnestly confront the Uruguayan bench after US right back Joe Scally was dumped to the grass on the US’s right flank before the whistle. Who would bend, and who would break would tell the tale of this feverish match.

The 2nd half was no drop off in intensity. The US, however, scrambled to deny a few early forays and just misses in their box from Uruguayan attacks. Sloppy passes and miscommunications plagued the US’s rhythm. Fatigue seemed to be gaining an edge.

As this match became more of a chess match, Bolivia equalized their match with Panama, providing the US with a more robust pulse in the heart of results.

Moments later, the US were on a ventilator. Mathías Olivera put back a rebound from an Araujo header in the 66th minute to give Uruguay the 1-0 lead and the US, at least for now, out of Copa America 2024.

Berhalter inserted forward Josh Sargent for Musah after the goal to hopefully kickstart the attack. Shortly after, it was forward Haji Wright for Scally. Later, midfielder Malik Tillman for center back Tim Ream.

A scrum in Uruguay’s box saw the US knock at the door in the 75th minute, only to be denied by a defender waiting on the goal line. Then, a Panamanian goal to take the lead over Bolivia began to cast a shadow over the US chances of gaining entrance into the quarters.

The US began to pick it up, knowing only that triumph was a must. Winning the ball in tight moments and pushing forward both measuredly and desperately, Robinson, McKennie, and company came near, repeatedly, but with no command.

Six minutes of stoppage time were announced. Still two goals were needed. Pulisic fought, got up, ambled forth, and shot in the box to no avail early in the extra time.

But no goals came. United States 0 Uruguay 1. One win and two losses in Copa America 2024. The host country out in the group stage.

The US Men’s National Team, however valiantly, would leave the pitch empty-handed, the future of their head coach in doubt and no eyes ogling their path to glory.

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dal9

thought they played OK. Pepi I’m really not impressed with.

KCOutsider

I didn’t watch because it was on cable, but I’m a bit mystified by the level of vitriol out there (though obviously that’s not a new thing for some US fans). They beat Bolivia the way they were supposed to. If you’d told most people before the tournament that they’d hold Uruguay to a 1-0 win aided by dodgy reffing, they’d have taken that in a heartbeat. The killer was the Panama game, and that was 90% on Weah’s indefensible, asinine early red card. And even then they nearly held on for a gutsy tie that would have changed all of this.

Disappointing, yes. Whole-team disastrous? Just not seeing it.

Howlie2

I personally think the vitriol comes from the post world cup manager search leading to lackluster results (and some terrible performances) since that search. Why did they need to search if Berhalter was the guy? Why do the 2 month break thing? Why interview other candidates? It was and still is mind blowing.

Plus – I never saw Berhalter as the guy that could progress this team to the next level (and I don’t think I’m alone). I think he did a good job through the world cup. I also see that performance at the top level of Berhalter’s coaching ability. I think this team has a very high upside just waiting for the right coach to instill grit, belief, cohesiveness and solid tactics that showcase the skills on this team.

Kat

That search for another coach had to just be PR… they were likely always sticking with GGG. Probably just wanted to shut the fan base up for a minute (sound familiar?!?). And now this team is waaay too comfortable with him and has plateaued. I agree with you, the players both need a new coach to guide them AND they need to grow up and be better unified. I found Besler’s comments on a recent MiB to really interesting and similar to my own concerns:

“The 2014 team did not have players playing in top clubs in Europe. We did not have players on top teams, and we took a lot of criticism for that. But what we did have were roles of power, responsibility, and accountability within our teams.”

https://bolavip.com/en/amp/copa-america/former-usmnt-matt-besler-on-the-difference-between-2014-squad-and-golden-generation

Last edited 11 days ago by Kat
ar_jhawk

I posted something very similar somewhere else. Regardless of all the other “stuff” it seems we are down to the old player’s coach v hardass dichotomy. Maybe we needed a player’s coach at one point, but these guys keep hearing they are a Golden Generation. They now need to be challenged and pushed and feel like they have to earn their place everyday.

Downside, gotta have someone in mind. Getting rid of Greggggg and then going on a multi-month “analytical” search accomplishes nothing more than it did last time. Zindane supposedly was asked and didn’t want it. Who does? Seems like this would be an opportunity with this group heading into hosting a Cup, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is knocking down the door.

InToTouch

Us soccer is broken. Berhalter was a poor choice when he was hired and he should have been let go before the World Cup.

ar_jhawk

You may not be wrong about US Soccer being broken and Berhalter being a poor choice, but once he was hired he was never going to be let go BEFORE the World Cup. After, now that’s an argument to be had. I honestly think the Reyna nonsense helped him because it made him a sympathetic figure. He’d done exactly as expected on the field and the Reynas came across as psycho sports parents.

InToTouch

The lede really got buried in the drama. Berhalter alienated his second best player in the side and barely used him in the tournament. That’s poor management.

ar_jhawk

Or, his POTENTIALLY second best player really was a prima donna baby who needed a little ass-kicking…

InToTouch

The biggest tournament your team will ever play is not the place to teach petty lessons. If that’s how you feel, don’t bring him to the tournament. Besides, the USMNT could use a little more swagger and arrogance

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