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What the USMNT learned about themselves ahead of Copa America: Reyna’s role, set pieces & more

Last month's Concacaf Nations League victory gave the U.S. a chance to reflect.

9 min read

It would be easy to overlook their third consecutive Concacaf Nations League title as a formality, a superfluous regional coronation that has no bearing on how the United States men's national team will fare at this summer’s Copa America. 

But make no mistake: an ultimately successful week in Dallas – a 3-1 win over Jamaica in extra time followed by a Dos a Cero triumph against Mexico – provided another dose of maturation for a U.S. squad raring to face South American heavyweights in a few months. 

Here are some thoughts on what we learned about the USMNT, and what they learned about themselves with a major tournament on the horizon. 

Thin margins 

The message ahead of the semifinal vs. Jamaica, who were missing several starters, was clear: this was a chance for the U.S. to sharpen their knockout-round ruthlessness. 

“The one thing we really like to experience are knockout games and knockout tournaments,” Weston McKennie said. 

“For us, thriving in knockout competition I think is key,” Christian Pulisic said. “Because when you have these one-off games, which is what we’re going to be looking at in Copa [America] and World Cup, once we get into that next step, we need to be really strong in those moments and know that one mistake can cost you and we need to punish the opponents as well when we get the opportunity. That’s just an area where we can improve, obviously looking back at the last World Cup too, in those knockout, big games where we need to be clinical.”

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