USMNT 2024 Copa America Preview: Bold Predictions and Key Insights

As the sun set on an unseasonably warm evening in Orlando, the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) walked off the field, battered but unbowed, having wrestled a 1-1 draw from the mighty Brazilians. It was a stark contrast to the 5-1 shellacking they endured against Colombia just days before. The juxtaposition of these two matches reveals a lot about the USMNT as they head into the 2024 Copa America: a team with immense potential, capable of resilience and brilliance, yet still grappling with inconsistency.

The Road to Redemption

In Landover, Maryland, against Colombia, the USMNT was a team in disarray. From the first whistle, they struggled to match the pace and precision of the Colombian attack. Early goals from Jhon Arias and Rafael Santos Borré highlighted defensive lapses and a lack of cohesion. Even a spirited second-half effort, punctuated by Tim Weah’s 58th-minute goal, couldn’t stem the tide of Colombian dominance, which saw them score three more times before the final whistle. It was a humbling experience, a wake-up call delivered before 55,494 fans, the second-highest attendance for a U.S. Soccer-controlled USMNT match in Washington, D.C.

Four days later, a different USMNT took to the field in Orlando. Facing a Brazilian team ranked fifth in the world, Gregg Berhalter’s men showed tenacity and tactical discipline. Christian Pulisic’s exquisite free-kick goal canceled out Rodrygo’s early strike, and a career-best performance from goalkeeper Matt Turner, who made 11 saves, ensured the historic draw. This was the USMNT at their best: organized, opportunistic, and unyielding.

A Tale of Two Matches

These two friendlies encapsulate the dual nature of the current USMNT. The game against Colombia was marred by defensive errors and a lack of sharpness in front of goal. Folarin Balogun, the young striker with a bright future, missed an early chance that could have set a different tone. The defense, featuring the pairing of Chris Richards and veteran Tim Ream, looked vulnerable, conceding five times. Even the typically reliable Christian Pulisic found his efforts thwarted.

Against Brazil, however, the team showed they could learn and adapt. Berhalter’s tactical tweaks, including starting Yunus Musah and Ricardo Pepi, injected fresh energy and dynamism. Musah’s early rocket that hit the crossbar set the tone, and the team’s overall defensive structure was more resilient. Pulisic’s leadership and Turner’s heroics in goal were critical in securing a result that felt like a victory.

The Road Ahead: Group C Challenges

The 2024 Copa America, hosted in the U.S. for the second time, presents a formidable challenge. Drawn into Group C, the USMNT will face Bolivia, Panama, and Uruguay. Each match will test different facets of the team’s game.

Bolivia (June 23, Arlington, Texas): Traditionally seen as the weakest team in the group, Bolivia will be no pushovers. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain, making them a dangerous opponent. The U.S. will need to be clinical and avoid complacency to secure three points.

Prediction: Win

The USMNT should start strong against Bolivia, a team that, while capable of surprises, lacks the depth and quality of the American squad. Expect a controlled performance with a couple of goals from the likes of Pulisic and Balogun. The key will be breaking down Bolivia’s defense early and maintaining composure.

Panama (June 27, Atlanta, Georgia): Panama has been a thorn in the USMNT’s side in recent years. Their physicality and organized defense require the U.S. to be at their creative best. The midfield battle, likely featuring Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, will be pivotal.

Prediction: Draw

Panama always presents a tough challenge with their physical style and disciplined defense. The USMNT will need to be at their creative best to break through; this is not where a typical Berhalter team thrives. This match could end in a hard-fought draw, with both teams sharing the points, but the Americans may be able to lean on their youth and a Raucous crowd and pull out an impressive win. Key players like McKennie and Adams will need to dominate the midfield battle.

Uruguay (July 1, Kansas City, Missouri): The toughest group opponent, Uruguay, brings a blend of South American flair and European pragmatism. Facing players like Federico Valverde and Darwin Núñez will be a stern test for the U.S. defense. This match will likely determine the group winner.

Prediction: Loss

Uruguay, with its blend of experience and youthful talent, will be the sternest test in the group stage. Despite a valiant effort, the USMNT might fall short against the likes of Luis Suárez, Federico Valverde, and Darwin Núñez. Defensive solidity and a disciplined approach will be crucial, but a narrow defeat seems likely.

Group Stage Summary:

The USMNT should advance from the group stage, potentially finishing second behind Uruguay. With a win against Bolivia, a win or draw with Panama, and a narrow loss to Uruguay, they should accumulate enough points to secure progression. BUT if they were not to have enough points to progress or lose to Panama, it would be a pure disaster for the USMNT. 

Knockout Stage Prospects:


Facing a strong team like Argentina or Mexico in the quarterfinals will be the true test. The USMNT will need to bring their A-game, leveraging the energy of younger players like Reyna and the experience of veterans like Pulisic and Ream. If Turner continues his form, the U.S. could pull off a surprise, but this is where the journey might realistically end.


Should the USMNT make it past the quarterfinals, they would likely face another South American powerhouse. The team’s progress will depend heavily on maintaining tactical discipline and seizing scoring opportunities. A semifinal appearance would be remarkable, setting the stage for future successes.

Final Prediction:

The USMNT is poised to make it to the quarterfinals, with a decent chance of reaching the semifinals if they play to their potential and avoid key injuries and some obvious match-up nightmares. The team’s blend of youth and experience, combined with Berhalter’s (hopefully) evolving tactics, should see them leave a strong impression on the tournament. A semifinal berth would be an excellent result, signaling a bright future for American soccer on the international stage. However, not making it out of the group would be a disaster and would be a major setback in the run-up to the 2026 World Cup on our shores. It would also single the end of the Berhalter era. 

Key Players and Tactical Insights

Christian Pulisic: The captain and talisman. Pulisic’s form and fitness are crucial. His ability to create and score, especially in big moments, will be vital. The free-kick against Brazil was a reminder of his match-winning potential.

Matt Turner: The shot-stopping hero. Turner’s form in goal provides a solid foundation. His performance against Brazil will give him confidence, but he’ll need to maintain that level throughout the tournament.

Weston McKennie: The midfield engine. McKennie’s box-to-box presence and aerial ability make him indispensable. His partnership with Adams will be key in controlling the tempo and breaking up opposition play.

Folarin Balogun: The young gun. Balogun’s finishing needs to be sharp. The missed chances against Colombia must be converted into goals if the U.S. is to progress.

Tim Ream and Chris Richards: The defensive anchors. Ream’s experience, combined with Richards’ athleticism, forms the backbone of the defense. They must communicate and coordinate to avoid the lapses seen against Colombia.

Berhalter’s Blueprint

Gregg Berhalter’s tenure as head coach has seen ups and downs. His ability to galvanize the team after the Colombia defeat speaks to his tactical acumen and motivational skills. Berhalter’s system relies on high pressing, quick transitions, and exploiting width through players like Weah and Pulisic. The balance between attack and defense, however, remains a work in progress.

The Colombia match exposed vulnerabilities, particularly in dealing with set-pieces and quick counter-attacks. Against Brazil, the U.S. showed improvement in defensive organization and a more coherent pressing game. Berhalter’s challenge will be to maintain this upward trajectory, ensuring the team peaks at the right moment.

If he can get this team to the Quarterfinals or even the Semifinals, he will save his job however, if they don’t make it out of their group, it’s time to restart as we head quickly to the 2026 World Cup. 

Overall Outlook

The 2024 Copa America will be a crucial step in the USMNT’s development. It offers a chance to compete against top-tier teams and gain invaluable experience. While not expected to win the tournament, the U.S. can showcase their growth, resilience, and potential, setting the foundation for future successes in the lead-up to the 2026 World Cup, which they will co-host. The eyes of the soccer world will be watching, and the USMNT has the opportunity to rise to the occasion and make a statement.

A Tournament of Possibilities

As the USMNT embarks on its Copa America journey, the duality of their recent performances offers both caution and hope. The thrashing by Colombia highlighted weaknesses that cannot be ignored. The resilient draw against Brazil, however, showcased the team’s potential and spirit. The U.S. enters the Copa America as a team with something to prove, capable of surprising both themselves and their opponents.

In the end, the 2024 Copa America will be a test of character as much as skill. For the USMNT, it’s an opportunity to measure themselves against the best, to learn, grow, and perhaps to forge a new legacy. The journey begins now, and the eyes of a hopeful nation are upon them.

Make sure to stick to Bluegrass Soccer Cast (@BGSoccerCast on all social media platforms) for full coverage of USMNT and everything soccer in our beautiful Commonwealth. 


  • Jimmie Martin

    Jimmie Martin is a charismatic soccer podcast host from Kentucky who passionately advocates for Promotion and Relegation in US Soccer. With infectious enthusiasm and a lighthearted sense of humor, he engages fellow enthusiasts on the Bluegrass Soccer Cast. Jimmie's goal is to promote the growth of soccer in the US while entertaining and educating his audience.

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