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Why Copa América matters for US men’s national soccer team


Why Copa América matters for US men's national soccer team


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The U.S. men’s national soccer team will be back in the spotlight this summer as they look to compete, upset a few teams and hopefully make a mark in Copa América.

Copa América will be hosted in the United States and will be broadcast on FOX Sports as part of the “Summer of Soccer” event. The U.S. will kick off its first match on June 23 against Bolivia.

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US men's soccer badge

The U.S. Soccer Men’s Team badge during the national anthem prior to a match against Slovenia at Toyota Field on January 20, 2024, in San Antonio, Texas (Alex Bierens de Haan/USSF/Getty Images)

With the drama settled down from the team’s 2022 World Cup exit, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter will hope to have his squad ready to go for the draw. The U.S. is 11th in the FIFA Rankings and also has Panama and Uruguay in its group.

Alexi Lalas is the lead studio analyst for FOX Sports and Stu Holden is the lead match analyst for Copa America. Both former soccer stars explained to Fox News Digital why the tournament was big for the U.S.

“I think that this summer is important. I think it’s important for not just Gregg Berhalter and his team but maybe even more so from the outside and the perception that we have of this team and maybe changing the perception that we have of this team,” Lalas said. “We’ve seen this team grow up in front of our eyes. This team is no longer a bunch of kids. They are not only older, but they are also playing in some incredible teams and leagues around the world. However, I think that this team needs kind of a seminal moment. 

FOX SPORTS’ ALEXI LALAS, STU HOLDEN TALK PREPARATION BEFORE ‘SUMMER OF SOCCER’ KICKS OFF

Gregg Berhalter on the sideline

Gregg Berhalter of the United States looks downfield before the Concacaf Nations League final match between Mexico and USMNT at AT&T Stadium on March 24, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. (Stephen Nadler/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

“This team needs kind of a moment where they live up to the expectations and what are the expectations? To be able to consistently compete and at times beat the elites and the best teams in the world. And this particular version of the team, as good as they are and as talented as they are, they haven’t had that. They’re gonna get the opportunity here in Copa América with teams like Brazil and Argentina and Colombia, teams on paper you would say this team is better than the U.S. Well, now you’ve got to start winning those types of games. And I think for Gregg Berhalter and his future, he’s got to make us believe in this team – More than just, this is a really good generation.”

Holden said that Copa América allows the U.S. to compete against teams they don’t usually get to play against. The U.S. competes against North American, Central American and Caribbean countries in the Gold Cup, but it doesn’t always get to compete against the heavy hitters from South America like Brazil and Argentina.

“I’m excited to finally be able to say, I can tell you all I want in my analysis of this team, and if I think we can do it. I think we can compete,” Holden said. “But I’ll be able to tell you after this summer if this U.S. team has a real chance in ’26 to make a run that we feel would be an evolution in the next step in this game, in this country. 

USMNT win Nations League

Christian Pulisic, #10, and the United States Mens National team with the CONCACAF Nations League Finals Winner’s Trophy during the CONCACAF Nations League Final between Mexico and USMNT at AT&T Stadium on March 24, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. (Robin Alam/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

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“And so, that’s why this summer matters. It matters for the players. It matters for the coach and his job to prove that he can lead this team in ’26. And it matters for us as fans to believe and have genuine hope in something that we can say, ‘Man, this next two years is really going to be as exciting as we think it will be.’”

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