The USMNT made the same mistakes that led to their World Cup exit: can they learn from them ahead of the Copa America?

LANDOVER, Md. — It's been a year and a half since the United States men's national team left the World Cup Qatar due to The Netherlands, 3-1 in the round of 16. Facing major opposition ahead of the Copa America, similar questions remain. During a 5-1 beating at the hands of Colombiathe USMNT paid for their mistakes and manager Gregg Berhalter called out his team for a lack of respect not only towards their opposition, but towards the game of football.

With less than two weeks to go until the Copa America, the only major tournament the USMNT will participate in before the 2026 World Cup, this is the exact opposite of what you would want to see. Some problems were expected due to the absence of Sergino Dest, but in fact the right-back was not one of the five main problems in the fall to Colombia. Under Berhalter, the USMNT is 35-5-8 against Concacaf opponents, but just 8-7-7 against the rest of the world. While friendly match opportunities against top nations are hard to come by, the USMNT have not proven to be ready for those opportunities thus far as they are still looking for a signature win and continue to make foolish mistakes, as they did against the Dutch . one and a half year ago.

Ahead of the match against Colombia, Berhalter said how these friendlies can help build confidence ahead of the Copa América, but now the result is being seen as a reality check before facing Brazil Wednesday in Orlando. There isn't much time left before they face Bolivia on June 21 to kick off the Copa America group stage, but Berhalter and the team will have to find a way to work together and do what it takes to not only emerge from a group with Uruguay but also win a knockout match.

“It certainly is. We were nowhere near the level at which we need to play to win games in the Copa América.” Christian Pulisic said in reference to Berhalter's reality check comment. “Absolutely, yes for sure. It's better that it happened now, but we can't come close to a game like that and expect to win games.”

When we delved deeper into how it got to this point, all Pulisic could say was, “I don't have any answers for you right now. I have to go watch a little bit of video.”

Pulisic's opinion is shared by other members of the team and no one made excuses for the performance, but they were taken apart by Colombia on the counter-attack. It was certainly a pro-Colombia crowd, but that should only push the team to do better so that the supporters have something to cheer about instead of the opposition.

“A lot of negative things. I mean, that's what happens in life. You just have to bounce back,” Tim Weah said after the game. “I think we are a team with a strong spirit and I take full responsibility for what happened out there, but we just have to start training again and bounce back. Playing against such a high quality team is always difficult. Obviously it's always difficult.” When I scored, I thought we had some momentum. I thought we were going to get back into it. It just wasn't our day. We just have to bounce back for the next game. It will be a difficult one against Brazil.”

The responsibility factor that both Pulisic and Weah show will be things that help the USMNT overcome this result, but faith cannot be the only thing this team runs on. It will only get them so far, and if they come up against tactically well-trained teams, that in itself will not be enough to prove that they are making a difference. Tactics and skill are needed to topple the top 20 teams in the world and on Saturday the USMNT lacked both, just as they did against the Netherlands a year and a half ago.

Louis Van Gaal, the Dutch coach at the last World Cup, was able to get his players into space with ease, because even though the United States knew what they were going to do, no one stopped the Netherlands from doing it.

“I'm still trying to figure out that I don't have much to say at the moment,” Pulisic said when asked what he would say to the team as captain. “I need to hang out, I need to watch some film, but I definitely think we need to start right now and hold each other accountable because, I would say, we just have to get better.”

Reflection is needed on this result, as well as reflection on how we can avoid this again in the future, because even if the United States can get out of their group at the Copa America, unless that is accompanied by a victory over Uruguay, it will not have yielded a lot. to show that they can win big games. There's another chance to disprove that story on Wednesday against Brazil, but being careful with the ball will lead to being taken apart again. Losing to Colombia was a lesson, but it's up to the USMNT to determine where they go from here. Without a change of course, the only goal they are heading towards is an early exit from the Copa America.

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