Expectations and Challenges of the USMNT in Copa America on American Soil

Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, and Christian Pulisic discuss pressures, ambitious goals, and the future of soccer in the USA
Colombia v United States
Colombia v United States / Stephen Nadler/ISI Photos/GettyImages

The stars of the USMNT are ready to shine at home, but pressure is an inevitable ingredient when it comes to a Copa America played on American soil. Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, and Christian Pulisic, in a recent interview, shared their insights on what it means to compete in front of the home crowd and the expectations of success in the continental tournament.

For Adams, pressure is just a detail. The captain exudes strong confidence, perhaps a characteristic fueled by seasons in Europe. McKennie, on the other hand, agrees but sees beyond: it's a chance to unite family and fans who don't often get to see them in action on the European continent. Pulisic, coming off a stellar season in Serie A with Milan, emphasizes the goal of inspiring through a strong performance on the field.

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Dubbed the 'golden generation,' USMNT players face not only the sporting challenge but also the task of promoting soccer in a country where the sport still competes for attention against giants like American football and basketball. With Copa America just the beginning of a series of major soccer events in the USA, including the 2026 World Cup, there's an unprecedented opportunity to establish soccer as a national passion.

However, make no mistake: the United States are not natural favorites in this competition. With Argentina and Brazil leading the odds, USMNT enters as one of the six non-South American invitees, historically with modest performances in Copa America. Since 2016, when they reached the semifinals at home, the team has aimed to prove they can compete at the highest level against established opponents.

The approach is clear: game by game, without losing focus. Pulisic puts it succinctly: "Starting well is crucial. We want to advance from the group stage and then take it game by game, focusing on the immediate opponent." The strategy mirrors that adopted in the 2022 World Cup.

Gregg Berhalter knows that success in this Copa America could quiet criticisms and solidify his position. For US Soccer, a strong performance could mean a significant boost for the sport's growth in the country, with implications beyond on-field results.

The USMNT prepares for kick-off against Bolivia in Arlington, Texas, on June 23rd.