Berhalter Must Be Fired After USMNT Disaster at Copa América

First group stage exit at home in 20 tournaments exposes glaring flaws and demands urgent leadership changes
United States v Uruguay - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024
United States v Uruguay - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024 / Shaun Clark/GettyImages

When the dust finally settled on Monday night, the outcome couldn't be clearer: the United States Men's National Team (USMNT) suffered a humiliating group stage exit at Copa América 2024. With a 1-0 defeat to Uruguay and Panama's 3-1 victory over Bolivia, USMNT saw their qualification slip through their fingers. A sense of frustration and shame permeated not only among the players but also among incredulous fans. The first group stage exit at home in 20 continental and world tournaments resonates like a cry for help in a desert of incompetence.

For many, Copa América 2024 was seen as the perfect opportunity for the United States to demonstrate readiness to compete at the highest level. After all, playing at home with the crowd behind them, what could go wrong? Well, everything. From the opening whistle in the friendly against Colombia, where they were crushed 5-1, to a lackluster draw against Brazil 1-1, to today's Copa América group stage loss against Uruguay, USMNT seemed like a shadow of a competitive team.

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This campaign was a disaster of epic proportions. And it's impossible not to look at leadership. Coach Gregg Berhalter, whom many considered a questionable choice from the start, failed in every possible aspect. The defense, as fragile as a house of cards; the midfield, lost like a tourist without a map; and the attack, as harmless as a kitten. And therein lies the big question: how did we get to this point?

Berhalter was brought in with the promise of renewing and revitalizing the team. Instead of moving forward, the team regressed, taking significant steps back at crucial moments. The group stage exit, especially at home, is a clear symbol that something is seriously wrong. And the greatest responsibility inevitably falls on the coach's shoulders. Many expected Copa América to be the stage for a turnaround, a moment when USMNT would show the world they were ready to compete toe-to-toe with the powerhouses. Instead, we saw a disorganized team, lacking identity, and worst of all, lacking soul. The fighting spirit that often characterizes American teams was absent. The loss to Panama 2-1 in the second round of Copa América was the final straw. Being eliminated in the group stage, especially as hosts, is a stain that will hardly be erased from memory.

Ronald Araujo, Tim Ream
United States v Uruguay - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024 / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

It's important to remember that the responsibility for this debacle is not solely Berhalter's. The direction of US Soccer also shares the blame. The choice of coach, strategic decisions, and lack of proper planning contributed to this disaster. But ultimately, it's the coach who puts the team on the field, and Berhalter's inability to make tactical adjustments is undeniable.

Copa América was supposed to be the tournament where the United States took a step forward. Instead, it was a shameful step backward. And there are no excuses that can mitigate the situation. The failure is evident, and the need for change is urgent. Berhalter must be fired, and a new perspective is essential for the United States to finally make the leap it so desires.

On social media, calls for change are deafening. Confidence in the current leadership is shaken, and patience is running out. If US Soccer wants to regain the trust of fans and, more importantly, build a promising future, changes need to start now. The first step? Recognizing that the US soccer program has plateaued and needs a fresh approach to move forward.

Copa América 2024 will be remembered as a turning point. USMNT, expected to show evolution and competitiveness, revealed itself as unprepared and disjointed. The early elimination is a call to action.

The United States needs a leader who inspires confidence, has a clear vision, and can bring out the best in their players. Someone who can turn potential into reality, who sees beyond immediate results and builds a solid foundation for the future.