USMNT vs Bolivia and the United States' Debut in the Copa América

Why could this match be crucial for the USMNT's success in the tournament?
Brazil v United States - Continental Clasico 2024
Brazil v United States - Continental Clasico 2024 / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Next Sunday, all eyes will be on AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The USMNT begins its Copa América campaign against Bolivia in a game that could very well set the tone for the competition. With the 2026 World Cup on the horizon, which the U.S. will co-host, the performance in this opening match is not just about points but about proving that the United States is ready to compete at the highest level.

The United States enters this Copa América with a mix of confidence and caution. In recent friendlies, the team has shown two distinct faces: a devastating 5-1 loss to Colombia and a heroic 1-1 draw against Brazil.

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Christian Pulisic, the Chelsea star, played a crucial role in that draw against Brazil with an impressive free-kick goal that lifted American spirits. Additionally, goalkeeper Matt Turner stood out with 11 spectacular saves, ensuring that the U.S. held firm against the five-time world champions. If that same determination and skill are brought to the game against Bolivia, the United States has a great chance to start their campaign with a convincing win.

Bolivia should not be underestimated. Despite being the lowest-ranked team in the Copa América, according to FIFA, and widely considered the weakest in South America, the Bolivian team is determined to change that perception. Under the leadership of coach Antônio Carlos Zago, Bolivia seeks to revive the glory days they haven't seen since their last World Cup qualification in 1994. Although they have advanced beyond the group stage of the Copa América only once since 1997, the Bolivians have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The Bolivian squad may not feature MLS players, but history reminds us of great names like Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno, who made their mark in the American league.

The United States, on the other hand, brings three MLS players in its roster: Miles Robinson from FC Cincinnati, Sean Johnson from Toronto FC, and Shaq Moore from Nashville SC. Robinson, in particular, is seen as a key piece in the defense, and his performance will be crucial to keeping Bolivia at bay and giving the United States the platform needed to secure three points.

This match is undoubtedly the most accessible for the United States in Group C, which also includes Panama and Uruguay. A convincing win would not only put the Americans in a strong position to advance to the knockout stages but also send a clear message that they are ready for the challenges ahead. The final group match against Uruguay promises to be the toughest, and starting the campaign with a solid win against Bolivia could provide the necessary boost to face stronger opponents.

With the Copa América being held on American soil and featuring an expanded format that includes 10 Conmebol teams and 6 Concacaf teams, there is a sense that this tournament is a unique opportunity for the United States to showcase its progress in soccer. Moreover, it is a prelude to what is to come in 2026 when the country co-hosts the World Cup. The performance of the U.S. in this Copa América could very well set expectations and lay the groundwork for future success.

The match against Bolivia is an opportunity for the Americans to demonstrate that they not only have the infrastructure and organization to host major events but also have a competitive team capable of facing the best national teams.