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OPINION: U.S. Crashes out at Copa América 2024

Tribune News Service
Colombia’s midfielder #06 Richard Rios (2nd R) celebrates scoring his team’s third goal with Colombia’s midfielder #08 Jorge Carrascal (C) and Colombia’s defender #17 Johan Mojica (L) as USA’s goalkeeper #01 Matt Turner (R) looks on during the international friendly football match between the USA and Colombia at Commanders Field in Greater Landover, Maryland, on June 8, 2024.

The United States men’s national soccer team was eliminated from Copa América 2024 group play. They became the first host nation in the tournament’s history to be knocked out in the group stage.

The United States came into the tournament as the No. 11-ranked team in the world. Despite all the hype and praise given to the team, their performance was lackluster and disappointing. The U.S. won game one of the group stages versus Bolivia (2–0), showing their attacking dominance early.

As the second game rolled around going up against Panama, the team was feeling confident after their decisive victory against Bolivia. The United States came out with some fire, scoring a goal but having it chalked off for offsides.

Then, in just the 18th minute of the game, United States forward Timothy Weah was seen striking a Panama defender in the head, which resulted in Weah receiving a straight red card and getting kicked out for the remainder of the game. The entire game plan had to change for the United States. Being down a man versus a team that knows how to agitate you was going to be difficult. But for the No. 11-ranked team in the world, they had to find a way to get things done.

Four minutes later they answered the call with striker Folarin Balogun scoring a beautiful shot from the left outside the 18-yard box, hitting the far post and going in.

The United States then took their foot off the gas and let Panama control the game. César Blackman scored four minutes later for Panama to tie up the game. The game was possessed by Panama for 73.6% and outshot the USA (13–6). Panama kept knocking and finally got an answer in the 83rd minute to take the lead and win the game. To survive the group stage, the United States would have to win their final game against one of the tournament favorites in Uruguay.

This was it — it was do or die for this United States team. This was their time to shine and show that they can compete with the best in the world. The United States came to play; not only were they going up against Uruguay, but they were going up against an inexperienced referee. In the 32rd minute, United States defender Chris Richards committed a foul resulting in a yellow card. The ref stopped the play to hand out the yellow card but while doing that, Uruguay started play on their own and had their breakaway shot saved by goalkeeper Matt Turner.

The entire stadium was in a ruckus. Players, coaches and fans were furious over the referee allowing that to happen when the play was deliberately stopped. Then in the 66th minute, Uruguay had a free kick which resulted in a goal to take the lead. Yet again, another controversial decision was called by the referee with one of Uruguay’s players being in an offside position for the goal.

The United States fought tooth and nail but came up short, resulting in a (1–0) loss and their elimination from the tournament on home soil. The men’s national team will now decide whether to keep or fire coach Greg Berhalter for the poor tournament performance.

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Brayson Brown, Sports Reporter

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