USMNT Crash out of Copa America… What’s Next?

After what many would consider a successful World Cup campaign in Qatar, the U.S. men’s national team’s Copa America run ended on Monday, when a 1-0 loss to Uruguay ensured they would exit the tournament in the group stage. The damage was already done with the team’s 2-1 loss to Panama last week, but the earlier-than-anticipated exit from the tournament forces questions about the direction of a once-promising team with less than two years to go until a World Cup on home soil.

Many fingers have pointed in the direction of head coach Gregg Berhalter, who has largely failed to inspire since returning to the job last September. He backed himself at his post-match press conference, answering a question about whether or not he is still the right person for the job with a simple “yes,” but the mood has soured considerably on Berhalter. He was supposed to offer stability and continuity when he was re-hired but a year and a half after a round of 16 exit at the World Cup, the team has made little progress since — and perhaps even taken a step back. Here’s the reports from Fox sports on why the USMNT needs a coaching change.

“Since the World Cup in 2022, the same questions remain. The United States haven’t shown that they can defeat marquee teams who aren’t named Mexico and they’ll have very few games remaining to do that now after falling in Copa America. After losing to the Netherlands in the World Cup with essentially the same roster, the expectation was that players would learn from that pain and do better the next time around, and while they did in some ways against Uruguay, this tournament left everyone wanting more. If anything, the USMNT regressed despite having players almost exclusively playing their club soccer abroad. It’s not a talent issue, it’s a leadership issue.”

There’s no timeline for a decision on Berhalter’s future one way or another, though U.S. Soccer will now conduct a review of the team’s performance at the Copa America. The stakes will be high to get the next decision right, whether it’s good news for Berhalter or not — from the players to the staff, everyone is treating the 2026 World Cup as an opportunity to create a seminal moment for the sport in the country. An impressive on-field showing from the USMNT is a focal point of that plan, even with the player pool’s imperfections.

Outside of selecting the best possible coach to get the best out of the group, it will also require the players to actually stand up and execute to meet their potential. While Berhalter’s USMNT is still missing a statement win against a top 20 team, what’s more troubling is that they squandered some games that they were the oddsmakers’ favorites in, like the Copa America loss to Panama and a defeat to Trinidad and Tobago in the Concacaf Nations League quarter finals last November. Getting the best out of this pool of players — considered by many to be the team’s most talented group ever — will require meeting the moment on smaller occasions, as well as the larger ones. With that said, whilst there was some individual brilliance in the tournament, there were also met by major individual failures. This seems to be a system issue, not a cattle issue. True leadership is needed to see the USMNT succeed in the future.

USMNT coach candidates: 10 to watch, including Jürgen Klopp
  • Jürgen Klopp, 57, Unattached.
  • Steve Cherundolo, 45, LAFC.
  • Jim Curtin, 45, Philadelphia Union.
  • Patrick Vieira, 48, Strasbourg.
  • Hugo Perez, 60, unattached.
  • Thierry Henry 46, France Olympic team.
  • David Wagner, 52, unattached.
  • Bob Bradley, 66, Stabaek.

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