Expectations for the United States men’s national team at the 2024 Copa America can fluctuate quite drastically. Some will say that as tournament hosts, the Americans should go fairly far in the tournament. Others could claim that Gregg Berhalter’s side is out of their element and would be lucky to even reach the knockout stage.

USMNT center forward Ricardo Pepi was recently asked about his team’s expectations by ESPN. The number nine told the news outlet that the Stars and Stripes have to at least make it out of their group at the upcoming competition. The Americans were placed in Group C of the tournament alongside Bolivia, Panama, and Uruguay.

“It’s a tournament where we don’t just want to sit there and compete, we want to make it as far as we can,” stated Pepi. “I think anything besides making it out of the group will be bad for us, so we just want to be able to compete and get the best out of it.”

“It’s one of the biggest tournaments in the world in terms of the international team. It’s a tournament where we really want to show off the talent we have and how good we are as a team. In terms of Copa, we want to be able to make it out of the group, and we want to go as far as we can, making it out of the group.”

High expectations for USA at Copa America

Despite being pitted against the top teams in South America, the USMNT enters the tournament as the third-highest-ranked Copa America team by FIFA. Only World Cup winners Argentina and mighty Brazil are currently ranked better than the Americans. The governing body has Berhalter’s team rated 11th in the world, just ahead of fellow 2024 Copa America team Colombia.

FIFA rankings, however, may not mean much on the pitch. This was clearly evident last weekend when the USMNT suffered a heavy defeat to Colombia. The South Americans ripped Berhalter’s team 5-1 in Maryland in front of over 55,000 fans.

Although it was just a friendly, the massive loss is certainly not a good look for the Americans heading into the tournament. They will, however, get to prove themselves once again on Wednesday night against Brazil. The matchup in Orlando is set to be the USMNT’s final tune-up ahead of the competition. While Brazil enters the Copa America as one of the favorites, Berhalter will want to gain some momentum before starting their tournament run.

Berhalter’s record would suggest that the Americans may not perform well at the 2024 Copa America. After all, the coach has a win rate of just 37.5% against teams outside of CONCACAF. He has also managed just five victories in 18 games against teams inside the top 20 of FIFA’s rankings. Four of these triumphs came against rivals Mexico and the other win was facing Iran.

Winning Group C is crucial to Berhalter’s success at tournament

On paper, Uruguay will be the USMNT’s toughest test in Group C of the Copa America. Outside of La Celeste, the Americans should handle both Bolivia and Panama. Potentially not getting out of the group is quite frankly unacceptable for Berhalter’s team.

Behind the group stage, the Stars and Stripes could face a series of different opponents. However, assuming that the Americans finish second in their group, they would potentially have to face Brazil in the quarterfinals. This makes topping Group C an immense priority for Berhalter and his squad. If the USMNT was to win its group, it could avoid Brazil until the semifinals.

Pepi is correct in claiming that the Americans have to at least advance to the group stage. Nevertheless, they should potentially go further in the tournament depending on their potential quarterfinal opponent. Specific matchups are key in determining expectations and the 2024 Copa America is no different.


Copa América 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Copa!
Copa América Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Copa games live in 2024
Key Dates: Learn All the important dates to mark on your calendar
Copa (United States of) América: South America's biggest tournament comes back to the USA
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer