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The USMNT have to hunt for goals in their Copa America clash with Uruguay. Will they find them?

Margins are thin for the United States as they prepare for a pressure-filled meeting with Uruguay.

5 min read

Back on November 29th, 2022, the message inside the U.S. men’s national team’s locker room was a simple one: just win.

The United States had already earned draws against Wales and England in their first two World Cup games. Given the results around them, beating Iran in their final group stage match a few days after Thanksgiving would ensure the USMNT a spot in the Round of 16.

A loss would eliminate them. A draw would eliminate them. It had to be a win.

Returning to the present day, the United States are approaching another nervy finish to another group stage at another major tournament. 

The upcoming meeting with Uruguay on Monday in the Copa America was never supposed to be tense. With the two favorites in Group C only meeting on the final day, the U.S. and their South American foes had the opportunity to dispatch the group’s underdogs to clinch places in the knockout rounds before a ball was even kicked at Arrowhead Stadium.

Uruguay took care of business against Panama and Bolivia, but the USMNT didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. A straightforward win over Bolivia earned the U.S. three points to open their Copa America campaign last weekend. What was then supposed to be another exceedingly winnable game against a Panama team with four injured starters turned into a red card-induced nightmare defeat in Atlanta.

How the USMNT lost to Panama and put their Copa America future at risk at the same time
A red card and a defensive lapse kicked the United States out of the driver’s seat ahead of a crucial match with Uruguay.

So the United States’ fate is far from secure as they prepare to face one of the top teams in the world.

The U.S. could advance to the quarterfinals without beating Uruguay, but would need to rely on the unlikely scenario of Panama dropping points to Bolivia in a simultaneous kickoff on Monday. The American players know that to give themselves the best chance to progress, they have to beat Uruguay.

“There's a lot of different circumstances that can happen in the game that can still push through to the next stage,” Antonee Robinson said on Saturday. “We just have to think that a win definitely gives us the best chance of going through,” he added later.

The twist? The United States could best Uruguay and still go home.

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