USA vs Uruguay: What USMNT Needs to Do to Advance to Quarters

USA needs a result from its game against Uruguay at Arrowhead Stadium at 9:00 PM on Monday.
How Can USA Advance After Loss to Panama
Weah's early red cost the USA against Panama, but their chances of advancing aren't shot.

The United States men's national team (USMNT) finds itself in a pressure-packed position heading into the final group stage match of the Copa America 2024.

After a disappointing 2-1 loss to Panama, the team must now face Uruguay in Kansas City on Monday, a match that could determine their fate in the tournament.

Let's be honest, the U.S. should have cruised through Panama and entered this matchup with Uruguay having already advanced. That's not the reality we face, and USMNT now needs a result in its toughest group stage game.

Current Standings and Implications

Current Group C Standings

To advance to the knockout stages, the USMNT needs a favorable outcome against Uruguay and some assistance from the Panama vs. Bolivia match. Here are the scenarios:

  • With a Win: The USMNT will qualify for the knockout stages if Panama draws or loses. If Panama wins, the US must maintain a better goal difference.

  • With a Draw: The USMNT will advance only if Panama draws or loses.

  • With a Loss: Advancement is possible only if Panama loses, and the US maintains a better goal difference.

The Match Against Panama

Thursday's match against Panama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium presented a series of challenges (or unfortunate events) for the USMNT.

Early in the game, Timothy Weah received a red card for a jab to the back of an opponent’s head, forcing the team to play with ten men for over 70 minutes. Despite this, Folarin Balogun scored a banger goal with his weaker foot just minutes after Weah’s dismissal, briefly giving the US the lead. However, Panama equalized shortly thereafter and eventually secured the win with a late goal by José Fajardo.

Coach Gregg Berhalter's tactical adjustments, including a change in goalkeeper due to an injury to Matt Turner, were not enough to secure a point. The result puts a ton of pressure on the USA to go out and beat Uruguay on Monday.

Preparing for Uruguay

Uruguay, having already qualified for the knockout rounds, will pose a formidable challenge for the USMNT. The South American team has shown dominance in their group-stage matches, scoring eight goals and conceding only one.

Christian Pulisic has emphasized the need for his team to approach this game with passion and pride, urging his teammates to play the best game of their lives.

"We have to go, and we have to represent our country with passion, pride," Pulisic said. "We have to go and play the best game of our lives, and that's it. We want to go, we want to win, and we want to continue in this competition."

Tactical Considerations

For the US to secure a win against Uruguay, several factors will be crucial:

  • Defensive Solidity: Maintaining a tight defense will be essential, especially against a high-scoring team like Uruguay. Richards and Ream have struggled throughout the first 2 games and CCV looked even worse in the second half yesterday. They have to be better on Monday.

  • Goal-Scoring Opportunities: Players like Balogun and Pulisic will need to capitalize on any scoring opportunities.

  • Discipline: Avoiding unnecessary fouls and maintaining composure, particularly in light of Weah’s previous red card, will be key. USA has a number of players on a yellow and will have to find a way to get through Monday without picking up a suspension.

How Will Berhalter Adjust Without Weah?

One of the most pressing questions facing Berhalter is how he adjusts the lineup with Weah out. The clear move, in our opinion, is to move Reyna forward to the right wing and get Yunus Musah back into the starting lineup.

Musah's workrate and creativity could be a major asset against Uruguay and getting Reyna more involved in the US attack is something many have been calling for through the first 2 Copa games.

However Berhalter adjusts the lineup, the result will ultimately come down to the 11 players on the field. USA is the higher-ranked team and are slight betting favorites but Uruguay will give them nothing. If they are to win and advance, they will need to earn the 3 points.

Pulisic summed up the team’s mentality heading into Monday’s match: "If a win against Uruguay is what we need, then that's what we have to go do. We're privileged to be in this position and have this opportunity to represent our country."

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