US and Mexico blow opportunities for 2026 preparation with early Copa America exits

July 2 – The USA were controversially dumped out of the Copa America last night after a 66-minute goal that could easily been called offside was awarded in a VAR review, handing a 1-0 victory to Uruguay.

The US now join Mexico – Concacaf’s two traditionally heavyweight nations – exiting the competition designed to give them meaningful competitive matches en route to their home hosted World Cup in 2026.

In contrasting fortunes for Concacaf nations, the increased depth of performance within the confederation has seen Panama qualify for the next round with a 3-1 win over Bolivia, while Canada also made it through to the last eight after a draw against Chile saw them come second in their group behind Argentina.

The US had to match or better Panama’s result against Bolivia in the other group game to go through to the knockout rounds. The problem for the US was that Uruguay are no mugs and, ultimately, the US were mugged.

The US, having been beaten by Panama, had to either match or better Panama’s result against Bolivia to ensure progression. They did neither prompting calls from a usually supportive US media for the removal of Gregg Berhalter (pictured) as coach.

While many might argue the writing has been on the wall for Berhalter and his generally ultra conservative style of play for some time, he has nevertheless proved to be the great survivor, including being reappointed in June 2023 following an internal investigation into his conduct in the wake of allegations made during the 2022 World Cup.

The straw that could break the back of US Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker’s faith in Berhalter could ironically be a very poor-looking VAR decision.

Mathias Olivera gave Uruguay the lead when he finished off a rebound following a set piece. Matt Turner punched away the original header from Ronald Araujo, but only to Olivera put away the rebound.

VAR took a look at a number of potential offsides on Olivera, but the goal was given, much to the frustration of US fans.

In contrast Panama, who have now firmly established themselves in Concacaf’s elite with their win over the all-singing and dancing US in this competition, made no mistake against Bolivia.

Jose Fajardo put Panama in front and after Bruno Miranda equalised, substitutes Eduardo Guerrero and Cesar Yanis scored to seal their win. All achieved without their best player Adalberto Carrasquilla who was sent off against the US for a tackle on Christian Pulisic.

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