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What to make of USMNT’s Copa America draw with Bolivia, Panama and Uruguay grouped with USA

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The U.S. men’s national team is set to host a varied group of opposition during the Copa America group stage following Thursday’s draw in Miami.

The hosts will begin and end the first round with South American opponents Bolivia and Uruguay, while their second game will see them take on regional rival Panama. The group stage is expected to deliver a wide range of tests for Gregg Berhalter’s team, as well as an early chance to measure themselves against top-tier opposition as they prepare for the 2026 World Cup on home soil.

Here’s a glance at the teams the USMNT will face during the group stage, as well as their hopes as all four sides eye the knockout rounds.

June 23: Bolivia

The USMNT will kick off their Copa America campaign at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas against Bolivia, who currently sit ninth in the ten-team CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying table after six games. They have won just once during that stretch, a 2-0 win against Peru in which they lost the possession battle but outshot the opposition 16 to 9. At this point in the qualifying campaign, they are South America’s worst defensive team — they have let in 14 goals, seven more than the teams that rank second to worst in this category, Brazil and Chile.

June 27: Panama

The Americans will then head to Atlanta’s Mercedez-Benz Stadium to take on a familiar foe in Panama. The Central American side got the better of a second-string USMNT in the Concacaf Gold Cup semifinal over the summer, when they won 1-0 in extra time, and come off a 6-1 aggregate win over Costa Rica in the Nations League quarterfinals. They can be a tricky team to play — they were nearly even on possession over the course of two legs with Costa Rica and lost the shots battle, but were far more clinical than the opposition and boasted six different goalscorers.

July 1: Uruguay

Easily the team every team was hoping to avoid in the draw, the USMNT will close out the group stage against Uruguay at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Veteran manager Marcelo Bielsa is off to a strong start with Uruguay after taking over the team in May and has them in second place during World Cup qualifying. They find a way to dominate on most days, but in big games, they are perfectly fine without the ball — that was their route to success in their 2-0 wins over Argentina and Brazil in the last month. Darwin Nunez leads South American qualifying so far with five goals.

Assessing the USMNT’s chances

All things considered, this is a relatively favorable draw for the USMNT. They will be favored against Bolivia and Panama, but a simple win will not be enough to impress onlookers hoping for a strong showing not just next summer, but at the 2026 World Cup. Berhalter will be expected to lead his side to dominant victories in the first two matches and ensure the USMNT are in a position of strength to advance to the quarterfinals before they take on Uruguay.

The Uruguay match will undoubtedly be the biggest test of the group stage, and Bielsa’s side is arguably one of the best teams the USMNT has faced in recent memory. A resurgent Uruguay will hold the title of favorites in this matchup, but the Americans have a chance to show that they are capable of going toe-to-toe with elite competition. They will hopefully not need a performance in Kansas City to advance, but Berhalter and his players may need a performance to prove they will be a team to keep an eye on when the World Cup finally arrives two summers later.

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