Berhalter sacked as USA head coach after early Copa America exit

By Sports Desk July 10, 2024

Gregg Berhalter has been relieved of his duties as the USA head coach following their early Copa America exit on home soil.

The USA got off to a promising start in Group C, winning their opening match against Bolivia 2-0.

However, a shock 2-1 defeat to Panama followed by a narrow 1-0 loss to Uruguay meant they finished third, missing out on a spot in the knockout stages.

Those results raised doubts over Berhalter's future with the team, despite it being believed he would lead them out at the 2026 World Cup, which they are co-hosting with Canada and Mexico.

He was the first American to coach the team having played for them in the World Cup and was initially hired in December 2018.

Berhalter led the USA to the knockout stages of the World Cup in 2022, before leaving his role when his contract expired at the end of that year. He was then rehired in June 2023.

Across his two spells, the 50-year-old led the team to three Concacaf Nations League titles in 2020, 2023 and 2024 and won 44 of his 74 games in charge.

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    Ismael Kone and Jonathan David scored as Canada fought back from 1-0 down to lead Saturday's third-place play-off in North Carolina, but Luis Suarez levelled after 92 minutes.

    Kone and Alphonso Davies then failed to convert in the penalty shoot-out as Uruguay emerged as 4-2 victors, becoming the first nation to win multiple shoot-outs at two editions of the tournament (2024 and 1999).

    Canada, meanwhile, fell short of becoming the third CONCACAF nation to get on the podium at the Copa, after Mexico (1997, 1999 and 2007) and Honduras (2001).

    While Marsch was disappointed with the way Canada let that achievement slip away in the dying moments, he was full of pride when discussing their campaign overall, particularly as they build towards a home World Cup in two years' time.

    "The players are disappointed in the way that we gave the match away, but I was very positive with them," Marsch said.

    "We've been together for a little over six weeks. We came into this match, put some new players on the pitch, played against one of the best teams in the world and dominated.

     

    "We're still a young team. If you look at their team, they have experienced players across the board, players playing at big clubs, a lot of experience in understanding how to handle moments. We're still developing that."

    Marsch only took the reins in mid-May but navigated a route through a challenging group containing Argentina, Chile and Peru, then oversaw a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Venezuela in the quarter-finals.

    "The beauty was the clarity with which the way that we're playing was executed by the new players that came in," he added.

    "It's not easy to build a tactical model in such a short time and under such big stresses against good opponents and then perform and execute at such a high level.

    "So, again, what a positive sign. What a great group of guys. What incredible potential we have with this team."

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    Messi is looking to lead La Albiceleste to a third major tournament win in as many years on Sunday, as the 2021 Copa America and 2022 World Cup winners face Colombia at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium.

    He has endured a mixed tournament, needing four games – and 12 shots – to score his first goal as he finally got off the mark against Canada in the semi-finals.

    A muscle injury forced Messi to sit out Argentina's third group-stage match against Peru, but he says he is fully fit and raring to go ahead of Sunday's showpiece game.

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    Many believe Messi could call time on his glittering international career after Sunday's final, after he said he was fighting his "last battles" with Argentina last week.

    Messi is set to become the first player in Copa history to feature in five finals, having led his nation to glory three years ago after losing the 2007, 2015 and 2016 finals.

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    Colombia boss Nestor Lorenzo has hit out at the decision to have an extended half-time break during Sunday's Copa America final to facilitate a performance by Shakira.

    Colombia will go in search of their second Copa America title at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, while holders Argentina are targeting a record-breaking 16th triumph.

    Tournament organisers are planning a 25-minute interval, rather than the traditional 15, with Colombian pop sensation Shakira performing during the break.

    While Lorenzo says the extended break will not give an advantage to either team in particular, he is worried about the potential for it to impact players' conditioning.

    Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Lorenzo told reporters: "I hope you enjoy, Shakira is great. 

    "For a final, when the rules change for both teams, bad pitches for both or same weather for both, then I can't say if it's bad, or if it favours one side.

    "I can't understand it, I wish it were like the rest of the games."

    Lorenzo pointed to incidents which saw Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela sanctioned by CONMEBOL for late arrivals after half-time during the group stage.

    "When we came out in the 16th minute we were sanctioned, but now that there is a show we can come out in the 20th minute," he said.

    "Players can get cold, but it's on both sides. I found out today that this is how it is, and that's it."

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