USMNT Copa America 2024 squad guide: A golden generation – how far can they go?


They call it a golden generation, with big-name players who have experienced the highest levels in Europe and have World Cup experience too. As hosts, they will also have the crowds with them. Could the competition’s invited guests cause an upset at South America’s greatest party?


How to follow the European Championship and Copa America on The Athletic…


The manager

The former Columbus Crew coach Gregg Berhalter became the first American to play for and coach the USMNT in the World Cup, guiding a young group to the knockout stage of Qatar 2022 where they were eliminated by the Netherlands. Berhalter returned as coach despite a massive post-tournament controversy involving him, star player Gio Reyna and Reyna’s parents, including his former team-mate and longtime friend Claudio Reyna.

Berhalter’s U.S. teams have played mostly a transition-style soccer, but have shifted from the 4-3-3 used in Qatar to a 4-2-3-1 with Reyna sliding into the No 10 spot. New fans to the team may want to keep an eye out for Berhalter’s sideline bounce passes when the ball runs out of play.

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Berhalter was appointed U.S. coach in December 2018 (Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

The household name you haven’t heard of yet

Tim Weah. When the USMNT is discussed we often hear about Reyna, Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie, but Weah has somehow fallen off the mainstream radar.

The son of former FIFA Player of the Year (and former Liberia president) George Weah, the winger has won a trophy at every club for which he has played and has become one of the leaders and consistent producers for this U.S. team. He scored the opening goal of the World Cup and currently features for Juventus in Serie A.

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Strengths

The U.S. is best when they are playing a vertical game, pushing the ball up the field quickly in transition. With Pulisic and Weah running on the wings and a dynamic midfield that includes Adams, McKennie and Reyna, the U.S. can up the tempo and find space quickly to beat teams.

They will miss the attacking flair of right-back Sergino Dest, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but this team should still have enough about them to speed play up.

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Weston McKennie playing against Jamaica in March (Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Weaknesses

Creating chances with prolonged possession.

The U.S. has struggled against teams that sit in a low block, and even at times in an organized mid-block. It forces the U.S. to find ways to beat you through passing and movement in tight spaces and takes away the strength of players such as Pulisic, who prefers to run at players in space.

Thing you didn’t know

The U.S. have lots of club team-mates, all of which are based in Europe.

Pulisic and midfielder Yunus Musah play at Serie A side AC Milan; left-back Antonee Robinson and center-back Tim Ream are at Fulham in the Premier League; Reyna and goalkeeper Matt Turner spent part of the Premier League season together at Nottingham Forest; and forward Ricardo Pepi and midfielder Malik Tillman are at Dutch champions PSV.

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Robinson and Ream playing for Fulham in the Premier League last season (Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)

Expectations back home

This U.S. team is largely considered to be a ‘golden generation’ of American players, with the core of this team playing at big clubs in Europe and many of them moving across the Atlantic at earlier ages than ever before.

This was the youngest team, by minutes played, at the Qatar World Cup, so now the players must prove they are worthy of the expectation as they begin to move into their respective primes.

The expectation undoubtedly will be that the U.S. advance to the semi-finals — but it won’t be an easy road. A second-place finish in the group likely means a meeting with Brazil in the quarter-finals.

The United States’ Copa America roster

Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath (Cardiff City), Sean Johnson (Toronto FC), Matt Turner (Nottingham Forest)

Defenders: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic), Kristoffer Lund (Palermo), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Shaq Moore (Nashville SC), Tim Ream (Fulham), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Miles Robinson (FC Cincinnati), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Midfielders: Tyler Adams (Bournemouth), Johnny Cardoso (Real Betis), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (AC Milan), Gio Reyna (Nottingham Forest), Malik Tillman (PSV Eindhoven)

Forwards: Brenden Aaronson (Union Berlin), Folarin Balogun (Monaco), Ricardo Pepi (PSV Eindhoven), Christian Pulisic (AC Milan), Josh Sargent (Norwich City), Tim Weah (Juventus), Haji Wright (Coventry City)

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(Top image: Brace Hemmelgarn, Getty Images; design by Eamonn Dalton)



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