U.S. Soccer to conduct 'comprehensive review' after Copa America exit (2024)

U.S. Soccer to conduct 'comprehensive review' after Copa America exit (1)

By Adam Crafton and Paul Tenorio

Jul 2, 2024

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) will conduct a comprehensive review after a disappointing Copa America tournament on home soil “fell short of expectations”.

The U.S. men’s national team beat Bolivia 2-0 in its opening game but then lost 2-1 against Panama and were beaten 1-0 by Uruguay when fighting to stay in the competition.

That result, coupled with Panama defeating Bolivia, sent them crashing out at the group stage.

GO DEEPERUSMNT 0-1 Uruguay: Takeaways from the U.S. Copa America failure

With the 2026 World Cup in the U.S., Canada and Mexico just two years away, coach Gregg Berhalter’s position as head coach is now under considerable pressure.

A statement from USSF read: “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.”

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After his side’s elimination, Berhalter said: “We know we’re capable of more and in this tournament we didn’t show it, it’s as simple as that. We look at the stage with the fans and the high level of competition and we should have done better. We’ll do a review and figure out what went wrong but it’s an empty feeling for now for sure.”

Asked by The Athletic if he still believes he’s the right man and voice to lead the group, Berhalter replied: “Yes.”

Berhalter, 50, led the USMNT to the last 16 of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar but his contract was allowed to expire at the end of that year, in part owing to his interactions with winger Gio Reyna.

Reyna was nearly sent home from the World Cup due to his behavior after being informed he would not be a starter for the U.S. team in the opening game against Wales. Reyna’slack of effort in subsequent training sessions nearly led to his dismissal from the team, but Berhalter opted to keep Reyna in Qatar.

U.S. Soccer to conduct 'comprehensive review' after Copa America exit (3)

Berhalter and Reyna’s relationship was explored in the post-World Cup review (Ercin Erturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

After the tournament, the coach spoke about those issues without naming Reyna during the Q&A portion of a leadership conference that was operating under Chatham House rules, which typically meant any comments were off the record. Those comments were published, however, and The Athleticreported thatReyna was the player about whom Berhalter spoke.

After those stories, Reyna’s parents — former U.S. national players Claudio and Danielle Reyna, longtime friends of Berhalter and his wife, Rosalind Berhalter — reported to former U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart an incident in 1992 in which Berhalter kicked Rosalind during an argument when the two were freshmen at the University of North Carolina.

That prompted a U.S. Soccer investigation which eventually found Berhalter was cleared to be re-hired.

Captain Christian Pulisic, who scored in the opening win over Bolivia but couldn’t help in the two blunt performances that followed, was left ruing not finding a “solution” in the final third against Uruguay.

“We had a good start and brought a lot of energy, but at the end of the day just not enough quality,” Pulisic said. “I felt like we gave it everything, but we just couldn’t find the solution to score.”

Asked where the team go from here, he said: “It’s about getting some rest, regrouping and finding an identity again.”

U.S. Soccer to conduct 'comprehensive review' after Copa America exit (4)

Pulisic couldn’t help the USMNT advance (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Goalkeeper Matt Turner backed Berhalter and the current staff to get things right.

“I see no issue with the direction we’re heading,” Turner said. “When you have a fight like that on the pitch in every single game we’re in in this tournament, it speaks volumes to how the manager prepares us.”

Defender Chris Richards, speaking to The Athletic, too believes progress is being made.

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“Every game is step forward regardless of the result. You can learn a lot from every game,” he said. “I think people like to give us a lot of criticism because of who we are and we take that and we keep moving.

“We try not to listen too much to outside noise. They can say what they want, but every game, every training is a step forward regardless of the result.”

GO DEEPERUSMNT's elimination at Copa America awakens echoes of previous humiliations

Midfielder Weston McKennie is open-minded about next steps but would be happy to continue playing for Berhalter if that is the direction that is decided.

“I believe we all have a comfort with Gregg and we all understand him and we’ve had him for a long time,” he told The Athletic. “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 that 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.

“You can’t really try to live in the past, not think too far in the future, just trying to be in the present and improve little by little and see where it takes us.”

The USMNT are next scheduled to be in action in September for a pair of friendlies, against Canada in Kansas City on September 7 before meeting New Zealand in Cincinnati three days later.

(Top photo: John Dorton/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

U.S. Soccer to conduct 'comprehensive review' after Copa America exit (2024)

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