Pulisic shines and Bolivian keeper a wall in USMNT's historic Copa América debut

An exciting match in Texas marks the USMNT's first-ever victory in a Copa América opener, with Pulisic and Balogun putting on a show and Bolivian goalkeeper Viscarra preventing a historic rout
United States v Bolivia - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024
United States v Bolivia - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024 / John Todd/ISI Photos/USSF/GettyImages

This Sunday, June 23, the AT&T Stadium in Texas was the stage for an electrifying game that entered the history of American soccer. The United States Men's National Team (USMNT) faced Bolivia in their Copa América debut, resulting in a convincing 2-0 victory. This was the first victory for the USMNT in a Copa América opener.

From the start, the American team showed their intent. Tyler Adams, recovered and healthy, started as a starter, giving a new dynamic to the American midfield. Adams' presence displaced Musah but ensured greater defensive solidity and faster transitions to attack. Gio Reyna completed the midfield, bringing creativity and vision to the game.

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Just 36 seconds into the match, young Joe Scally nearly opened the scoring with a shot from outside the box that deflected off Balogun, showing that the USA meant business. The initial pressure resulted in a stunning goal by Christian Pulisic at 3 minutes, following a short corner. Pulisic, the number 10 and the team's star, shot powerfully and across, leaving the Bolivian goalkeeper with no chance despite getting a hand to the ball.

At 7 minutes, Timothy Weah had a chance to extend the lead after a quick counterattack, but Bolivian goalkeeper Viscarra began to show his worth, making an important save. With 56% possession at 26 minutes, the United States dominated the match, while Bolivia tried to defend in every way possible, including several hard fouls that resulted in three yellow cards in the first half alone.

Folarin Balogun's moment of glory came at 43 minutes. In a blistering counterattack led by Pulisic, Balogun received the ball outside the box and shot across to score the USA's second goal. It was a play that demonstrated the effectiveness of the American attack, needing only three shots on target to score two goals in the first half.

With 61% possession in the first half and 7 shots compared to Bolivia's 2, American superiority was evident. The tactical discipline of the United States also stood out, receiving no yellow cards in contrast to the Bolivians, who had accumulated three.

Folarin Balogun, Luis Haquin
United States v Bolivia - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024 / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

In the second half, Bolivia returned with more aggression, pressing the United States and forcing the American defense to work harder. Musah replaced Tyler Adams at halftime, bringing new energy to the midfield. The first yellow card for the USA came at 48 minutes when McKennie stopped a Bolivian counterattack with a foul.

The United States continued to create opportunities, with a disallowed goal by Balogun at 52 minutes due to Weah's offside after a great play with McKennie. Pulisic, always dangerous, forced the Bolivian goalkeeper to make a spectacular save at 59 minutes with a shot from outside the box.

The substitutions of Reyna and Balogun for Jhonny and Pepi at 64 minutes brought new life to the American attack. Pepi, in particular, had two great chances to score but was thwarted by incredible saves from Viscarra, who stood out as Bolivia's hero, preventing a rout.

From 66 minutes, Robinson began to shine on the flanks, sending dangerous crosses into the box, but Pepi and Pulisic couldn't convert these opportunities. Even with Bolivia retreating and trying to hold on, the United States continued to dominate, creating chances and pressing the opponent's goal.

Pulisic, in an inspired evening, nearly scored again at 78 minutes, but Viscarra, in a memorable performance, saved brilliantly. It was a game where the Bolivian goalkeeper prevented a much larger defeat, performing true miracles between the posts.

The final minutes saw another strategic substitution, with Weah being replaced by Aaronson at 85 minutes. Still, the USMNT kept attacking. At 89 minutes, Pepi had one of the best chances of the game but was again stopped by Viscarra, who made two consecutive saves in one play, preventing the third American goal.

Christian Pulisic was undeniably the best player on the field, contributing a goal, an assist, and several creative plays. His performance was worthy of the "man of the match" title, leading the team with mastery and showing why he is considered one of the best American players today.

This historic victory not only marks the USMNT's first win in a Copa América debut but also showcases the potential of this young American team. With solid performance, tactical discipline, and stars like Pulisic and Balogun shining, the United States has much to celebrate.

The next challenge for the USMNT will be on Thursday, June 27, against Panama at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. One thing is certain: if they play as they did against Bolivia, the sky is the limit.