Where Does the USMNT Go From Here?

news banner image

The United States Men's National Team were knocked out of the 2024 Copa América in the group stages. Expectations were high, but the performance fell short, leaving questions surrounding their preparations for the 2026 World Cup.

1 week ago
The tournament began with promise as the USMNT secured their first-ever opening group stage victory. Odds were favorable for the U.S. to go far, and this is exactly where all the free bonus bets were going. However, this initial optimism quickly faded as they suffered two losses to Panama and Uruguay, which quickly sealed their fate. The early exit has raised serious questions about the team's readiness to compete at the highest level, especially with the 2026 World Cup looming in which North America is set to be the hosts.
This disappointing showing has put a lot of pressure on U.S. Soccer from the media and fans. As soccer continues to grow in the country, it’s one of the few times the U.S. team has experienced high expectations, disappointment, and genuine pressure.
From tactical approaches to player development, every aspect of the program is now under scrutiny. With just two years remaining until the United States co-hosts the World Cup alongside Canada and Mexico, there’s a sense of urgency to make some fundamental, radical changes.
Gregg Berhalter's tenure as the head coach of the USMNT is under intense scrutiny. It’s hardly unsurprising given that the level of competition is lower than the World Cup, in particular the defeat to Panama.
Despite his belief that he is still fit for the job, many critics and former players have called for a change in leadership. There are constant leaks and updates, such as the claim that he hasn’t lost the dressing room, but these things can never be truly known - nor does it necessarily secure his job. For example, Alexi Lalas and Clint Dempsey have both emphasized the need for progress, implying that a new coach might be necessary.
The decision to retain Berhalter after the 2022 World Cup was controversial in and of itself and the recent Copa América results have only sparked the same debate. U.S. Soccer Federation's choice to stick with Berhalter has also been criticized, with some analysts questioning the internal dynamics and accountability within the team. Carli Lloyd and Jimmy Conrad have expressed concerns about the level of comfort among players, suggesting that a fresh voice might be needed.
Finding a suitable replacement for Berhalter is not straightforward, but Jurgen Klopp has recently teased the idea. On July 4th, Jurgen posted on Instagram "It's the perfect day to think about my trips with Liverpool to the States. We've had a great time and the US fans are electric! Happy 4th of July!”. Many claim this is a huge hint, while others are simply taking it at face value. He would certainly be the fans’ top pick, and understandably so after his monumental success at Liverpool.
Jesse Marsch is another potential candidate, but currently, these are only rumors. Despite these challenges, the clamor for change is growing louder as the responsibility of hosting the World Cup looms.
Despite the disappointing Copa América performance, some young American players provide the nation with some hope. Folarin Balogun, who earned the starting striker role during the tournament, showed some promise. His presence in the attack highlighted the team's need for a reliable number 9, and his development between now and the World Cup will be a big part of the USMNT's promise.
Gio Reyna is another young talent who has the potential to become a creative spark. His ability to unlock defenses with killer passes is something the USMNT has often lacked, and his performance against Uruguay showed that when pushed further forward, he can be dangerous.
On paper, the USMNT shouldn’t be going out at the group stages, so the 2024 Copa América highlighted several areas where the USMNT needs to improve tactically. One major lesson is the need for a clear identity and style of play. The team often looked lost on the field, which falls on both the players and the coaching staff. Establishing a coherent tactical approach - one that leans into the natural strengths of the team - is needed, and is a big driving force behind those calling for a new head coach.
Balancing experience with youth development is another key area. While young talents are a big part of the next World Cup’s promise, experienced players like Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie will need to guide the team through the next two years.
The road ahead for US Soccer is a potentially rocky one. Many want a change in manager quickly, to have time to develop a style of play that can have some momentum heading into the World Cup. Others will point to the fact that Gregg hasn’t lost the dressing room yet, and may potentially have some work left