Copa America: The USMNT crash out in the group stage

Uruguay beat the United States 1-0, eliminating the United States from the tournament.
United States v Uruguay - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024
United States v Uruguay - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024 / Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/USSF/GettyImages

A day after seeing long-time rivals Mexico crash out of the Copa America, the USMNT see their Copa America dreams down in flames following a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.

In a game the USMNT needed to win, the Americans mustered only three shots on target, with their best opportunity coming off a mistake from the Uruguay keeper.

Despite a strong start to the match, the United States were unable to translate that start on the scoreboard. After about 20 minutes, Uruguay got into the match, frustrating the USMNT with their pressing and physicality.

The dagger for the United States came in the 66th minute with Mathias Olivera scoring the only goal of the game. It was a controversial goal to say the least as it came off a Ronald Araujo header that Matt Turner managed to block. Olivera pounced on the rebound but appeared to be offside.

However, even after a lengthy VAR review, the goal stood.

Down a goal, the USMNT were still unable to get anything going in attack. Once Panama went a goal up on Bolivia, and then a second, the writing was on the wall. When referee Kevin Ortega blew the finall whistle, it confirmed one of the worst nights in USMNT history.

The performance of the referee was a talking point from both pundits and players alike with Christian Pulisic venting his frustrations post-match.

"Honestly, I mean I saw things that I've never seen before right in front of my eyes today that I just truly can't believe," Pulisic said. "It's not why we lost; we're not out of this tournament because of officiating.

"But really, I've just seen things that I just really -- I mean I thing everyone can just admit I don't know what I'm looking at. I don't know why they're calling. I don't know what he's -- he gives no explanation. He's doing things that I can't accept."

Pulisic is right in that the officiating isn't the reason why the USMNT became the first host nation of the Copa America to not make it out of the group stage. Their elimination was cemented in the previous game where they lost to Panama.

With that loss, the USMNT were put in a must win game against the best team in the group whereas Panama faced last place Bolivia. The result in the final game reflected that with Panama beating Bolivia 3-1.

The elimination now calls into the question the status of coach Gregg Berhalter. After not renewing his contract, the federation decided on ultimately bringing him back. With a "golden generation" at his disposal, the USMNT only picked up one win in the Copa America.

"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," said a statement from USSF sporting director Matt Crocker.


With no qualification games, if Berhalter is fired and a new manager brought on, it'll be a race against the clock to get enough games in against quality opponents. But with the 2026 World Cup on home soil, the USMNT cannot afford a similar showing in the sport's most important tournament.