Captain Christian Pulisic scored a milestone goal to get USNMT off to a great start as they blank Bolivia 2-0

  • Pulisic captained the team for the 24th time, tying Kasey Keller for seventh on the USMNT’s all-time captains list
    • Tim Weah recorded his fifth career assist on Pulisic’s opener
United States v Bolivia - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024
United States v Bolivia - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024 / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

U.S. Men’s National Team blanked Bolivia 2-0 to kickstart their CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 campaign at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Just three minutes into the game, it was none other than Christian “Captain America.” Pulisic opened the scoring with an excellent kick from the edge of the box on the right side to give the Stars and Stripes a 1-0 lead. Balogun returns to the lineup after playing a substitute role against Brazil in their last friendly. Monaco’s talisman, Folarin Balogun, further rubbed salt in the Bolivian's wound when he made it 2-0 in the stroke of halftime.  

The stage was set in front of a jubilant crowd of 47,873 to watch their darling USNMT in its fifth participation in the prestigious competition, which was launched in 1916 and is being played in the United States for the second time. Pulisic, the only member of the current squad to appear in that tournament, looked appropriately comfortable at kickoff on Sunday. USNMT signaled their intent in the first minute of play, with Joe Scally unleashing a shot from 25 yards only to see it fly high and aimlessly wide.  

In the 3rd minute, Bolivia conceded a corner courtesy of Luis Haquín. Timothy Weah played the resulting corner short to Pulisic, who sauntered away to set himself up nicely before firing a right-footed shot from the left side of the box to the top right corner, leaving the hapless goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra clutching at straws. A milestone goal for Pulisic has made him the second youngest player to hit 30 goals in 69 caps wearing the Stars and Stripes jersey; only Landon Donovan has done better than Pulisic. Pulisic joined Eric Wynalda and Clint Dempsey as the third player to score for the USMNT in five different competitions. With his assist, he also became the first USMNT player to provide assists in five different competitions. 

As both teams wrestled for position and a foothold in the game, Bolivia registered their first shot in the 10th minute, but Gabriel Villamíl's left-footed shot from outside the box was too high to trouble goalkeeper Matt Turner.  

The Stars and Stripes ranked 11th in the world, took command as the match settled down, stroking the ball around the lush green park with alacrity. The 84th-ranked Bolivia bent but refused to break. The South Americans had a few sniffs here and there at goal but no real threat to unlock the USNMT defense. Folarin Balogun worked his way into the starting eleven and tried to prove his selection was justified. In the 31st minute, after keeping Bolivia at bay, Balogun collected a pass from Weston McKennie and weaved his way toward the goal before letting fly a sizzling left-footed shot from the center of the box, which was blocked expertly by defender Jose Sagredo.   

The long spell in possession paid dividends on the cusp of the halftime break. Pulisic was the architect yet again in the 44th minute, drifting centrally and dropping a bit deeper to receive a feed from Gio Reyna, who put in an effective two-way performance. Pulisic turned and dribbled through the heart of the Bolivian half, drawing several defenders toward him before feeding an open Balogun on the left. On his third shot of the period, the AS Monaco striker's left-footed finish marked his fourth goal in a U.S. jersey and first of 2024. 

The half ended with USNMT licking their chops while Bolivia had much to think about. Greg Berhalter came under scrutiny after a lackluster performance in a 5-1 trashing from Columbia in their penultimate warm-up game. Meanwhile, his opposite number, Antonio Carlos Zago, still has a point to prove since taking over the Bolivia national team in October 2023 and has lost three of his four warm-up games.  

Bolivia came out in the second half sprightly and forced a save out of Matt Turner in the 51st minute. Roberto Fernández collected a neat pass from Rodrigo Ramallo before he whipped in a vicious left-footed shot from outside the box, which was saved brilliantly in the bottom-left corner by Turner. Nine minutes later, Christian Pulisic latched on to a pass from the unselfish Timothy Weah, but his right-footed shot from the center of the box was saved in the top left corner and assisted by Timothy Weah. 

A third goal seemed likely as the USA remained on the front foot after halftime, but Viscarra made several miraculous saves. He denied substitute striker Ricardo Pepi in the 79th and 80th minutes and then again on the doorstep in the closing seconds. First, Pulisic pulled a rabbit from the hat to set up Pepi, but his right-footed shot from the center of the box was saved in the top center of the goal. Pepi's second shot came swiftly after the first as he did all the hard work, but the goalkeeper turned his shot away as he stared in anguish. He did exceptionally well to protect a respectable scoreline.  

Bolivia needed to get going or switch out of second gear as the USA stifled them. The U.S. back four of Antonee Robinson, Tim Ream, Chris Richards, and Joe Scally—starting together for the third straight game—looked comfortable. Bolivia took only a single touch during the entire game inside the U.S. penalty area, and goalie Matt Turner had only three relatively routine saves to make on the way to another shutout. Celebrating his 30th birthday one day early, Turner notched his 25th clean sheet in only 42 appearances, breaking the program record for fastest to reach that milestone set by Kasey Keller (53 caps). 

The USA is now 3-2-4 all-time against Bolivia and 1-1-0 at the Copa América, avenging a 1995 group-stage loss. Uruguay and Panama, the other nations in Group C, were scheduled to meet later Sunday in Miami. The USMNT (1-0-0) will continue its group stage journey on Thursday, June 27, when it faces Panama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta (6 p.m. ET; FOX, Univision, TUDN, FDP Radio).