Copa America 2024: Uruguay and Panama advance, USA out

Copa America 2024: Uruguay and Panama advance, USA out


Uruguay players celebrate the team's victory and advancement to the quarterfinals after the Copa America 2024 match against the United States at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City on July 1, 2024.

Uruguay players celebrate the team's victory and advancement to the quarter-finals after the Copa America 2024 match against the United States at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City on July 1, 2024. | Photo credit: Getty Images via AFP

The United States was eliminated from the Copa America on July 1 with a 1–0 loss to Uruguay, while Panama booked its place in the quarterfinals with a 3–1 win over Bolivia.

The U.S. team, which lost 2-1 to Panama last Thursday, needed to match or better Panama’s result against Bolivia to advance to the final Group C match on Monday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

But U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter's side never performed well enough to pose a serious challenge to a well-coached Uruguay side, which reached the last eight as group winners.

“It’s hard to say right now, obviously emotions are high,” disappointed U.S. captain Christian Pulisic said.

“We started well and brought a lot of energy, but we didn't have enough quality. We couldn't find a solution.”

Any hopes of victory for the tournament hosts were dashed within the first 30 minutes as news broke that Panama had taken a 1-0 lead against Bolivia in Orlando.

Those hopes were revived early in the second half when Bolivia equalized to make the score 1–1, leaving the United States on course for qualification provided it could hold off Uruguay.

Nevertheless, America's optimism was dashed moments later when Uruguay took the lead through Mathias Oliveira's goal in controversial circumstances in the 66th minute.

Ronald Araujo's powerful header from Nicolas de la Cruz's free-kick was saved by US goalkeeper Matt Turner, but the ball reached Oliveira, who saved the rebound.

Replays showed Oliveira was offside when Araujo first touched the ball, but despite a lengthy VAR review, Peruvian referee Kevin Ortega ruled the goal should stand.

The math for qualification for the Americas was starting to look even more bleak when news broke that Panama had scored once again through Eduardo Guerrero to take a 2-1 lead, and the final nail in the coffin came when Cesar Yanes scored Panama’s third goal in extra time.

The United States' first-round defeat has raised new questions about the future of U.S. coach Berhalter, who remains deeply unpopular among American fans.

Berhalter was only reappointed to the US post in June last year, after leading the team to the 2022 World Cup.

Still, the nature of his early departure on Monday has reignited debate over whether he is the best man to lead the United States to a World Cup on home soil in 2026.

The failure to beat Uruguay, ranked 14th in the latest FIFA rankings, adds to Berhalter's poor record against top 20 teams.

Berhalter has managed just five wins in 20 games against top 20 teams during his tenure, and four of those victories have come against regional rival Mexico — who exited the Copa in the first round.

This disappointing streak continued after a weak offensive display from Berhalter's side against Uruguay, where they managed just three shots on goal in a thwarted offensive display.

U.S. defender Antonee Robinson described the officiating as “amateurish” but insisted the responsibility for the loss lay with the U.S. players. “There wasn't enough quality in the final third,” Robinson said.

“At the end of the day we weren't good enough to get the result we had today. That's our fault.”


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