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On Sunday, the United States men's national team will kick off Copa America against Bolivia. It's a tournament with high expectations for the USMNT especially as Gregg Berhalter is set to enter his second World Cup cycle as manager despite only progressing to the round of 16 during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. A poor showing in a Copa America on home soil could offer a reason for U.S. Soccer to reevaluate who should lead the team into a highly anticipated World Cup.

Given the side of the bracket that the USMNT have been drawn into, it changes expectations some. Not only are they in a group with Uruguay, but getting out of that group would likely set up a meeting with Colombia or Brazil, who are tough teams to topple. The USMNT do need to show that they can hang with top teams in the world but they moved in the right direction after drawing Brazil in a tune-up. 

More USMNT at Copa America


"I feel confident within the group. I know that if there's a game that is going to be dogged, and when we're going to need to fight, I know the boys will be there and we have a lot of players who are up for it," Folarin Balogun said about the team's mentality. "That was the main disappointment with Colombia, but looking forward, we know that we'll put that right going into this tournament."

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Balogun's words are important because while the USMNT are used to physical play in Concacaf, CONMEBOL is an entirely different animal. Copa America has been chock full of fouls and almost every team has technical players playing in top European leagues. While this isn't to temper expectations for the United States in the tournament, what does success look like for the Red, White, and Blue?

How to watch and odds

  • Date: Sunday, June 23 | Time: 6 p.m. ET
  • Location: AT&T Stadium  -- Arlington, Texas
  • TV: FOX  | Live stream: Fubo (Try for free)
  • Odds: United States -570; Draw +550; Bolivia +1700

Getting out of the group isn't enough

While the USMNT are drawn into a tough group, being alongside Bolivia and Panama, not advancing to the knockouts would come as quite a shock. The absolute bare minimum is advancing and while that's not something that should be taken for granted as year after year big teams crash out in the group stage of tournaments, the expectation is to advance. Once that's secured then it's time to analyze the performances of the players. If questions of whether they can keep up with top teams remain after Copa America, it won't have done enough to move the needle and will go down as a disappointing tournament even alongside advancing from the group. While the United States don't have to beat one of Uruguay, Brazil, or Colombia, they do need to be competitive in those matches and feel like there's a chance to advance past them. Berhalter needs to show that he's a coach whose talent belongs on the field with the world's best. As of now, the USMNT are a big fish in a small pond in Concacaf but there's a long way to go to catch the rest of the world, but they'll have a chance in Copa America.

Integrate Balogun

Balogun has quickly racked up 13 caps for the United States scoring three goals to go along with three assists. While it's not a bad return for him, the USMNT and Monaco both need him to be a top striker. The days could be gone where the way to describe the team was, "They're great, if only a striker could put the ball into the back of the net.' Balogun is that guy and he'll now spend the longest time consecutively with the team since he declared for the USMNT. It will be a critical time for building chemistry, and good interchanges between Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah and Balogun will keep teams on their toes. They are expected to still be the starters in 2026 at the World Cup and now is a stepping stone to build for that.