USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter under fire as Copa America draws near

    The United States Men’s National Team lost 5-1 on Saturday to Colombia in a friendly match in Maryland — the worst result of Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT coaching career and one of the team’s biggest drubbings on home soil in its history.

    With results like this Colombia loss piling up, it looks like the players are starting to lose patience with Berhalter.

    “We’re nowhere near the level we need to play at if we want to win games coming into Copa America,” captain Christian Pulisic said, per The Athletic.

    Could the USMNT be in for a leadership change? If Berhalter’s men continue to lose, it’s hard to see him staying in the job long term — not with experienced coaches such as Gonzalo Pineda waiting in the wings.

    This game against Colombia was intended as a warm-up for this summer’s Copa America. A game against Brazil on Wednesday will serve the same purpose.

    But for all of the USMNT’s talk of progress under Berhalter in advance of the tournament, the team was outplayed and outclassed on every part of the field against Colombia. The performance was so weak that Berhalter labeled it “disrespectful.”

    “From the 75th minute on, it was, I think, a lack of respect for our opponent, the game of soccer, what we were doing,” Berhalter said, per The Athletic. “We’re not framing it as a lesson learned. We’re actually framing it as a wake-up call.”

    The USMNT never looked competitive against Colombia. Where the U. S. was casual, Colombia was intense. When the U. S. made silly mistakes, Colombia capitalized on them.

    FIFA’s official rankings place the USMNT as the 11th-best team in the world and Colombia as the 12th. The gulf in quality between the two was clear enough to render those rankings laughable.

    There were plenty of individual mistakes on the field from the Americans.

    Antonee Robinson had one of his worst games for the USMNT, Tim Weah gave the ball away in the final third to gift Colombia a goal and Johnny Cardoso looked out of his depth in place of the injured Tyler Adams. 

    But the majority of the blame must fall on Berhalter. This is the strongest USMNT we’ve seen in generations. The starting 11 against Colombia all play for major European club teams. These players struggle under Berhalter in ways they don’t under other coaches.

    With the 2024 Copa America, one of the world’s most-watched tournaments, and the 2026 World Cup taking place in the United States, Berhalter has little room for error. 

    We’re entering into U. S. Soccer’s biggest prolonged moment on the world stage. The United States should not allow five goals at home. 

    The USMNT finishes its Copa America prep Wednesday against Brazil, a team it carries a 1-18-0 record against. A loss there will not cost Berhalter his job. 

    But as the Copa kicks off and the USMNT faces Uruguay, Panama and Bolivia in late June, the pressure will increase. Berhalter may well find himself sacked if his team can’t finish first or second in that pool.

    An early Copa America exit would hurt for USMNT fans, but if it means the end of the Berhalter era, it may be a blessing in disguise.

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