USMNT split pre-Copa America friendlies; are the vibes good or bad?

United States midfielder Tyler Adams (4) celebrates his goal with forward Christian Pulisic during the first half of a CONCACAF Nations League Final against Mexico, Sunday, March 24, 2024 in Arlington Texas (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The USMNT lost in one of the most lopsided matches on U.S. soil last Saturday, a 5-1 thumping from Colombia. Four days later they followed that performance up with an impressive 1-1 draw against Brazil. The team and their manager Gregg Berhalter have been criticized since the coach was reinstated as the head boss, and coming into the Copa America tournament, expectations were wobbly.

Some say the team needs to make a semifinal of the Copa to show that they meant business on their way toward the ever-closer 2026 World Cup. Others say that it doesn’t matter where the USA finishes in this tournament because things under Gregg aren’t going to change. So what are the vibes surrounding this USMNT squad?

United States midfielder Tyler Adams (4) celebrates his goal with defender Sergino Dest during the first half of a CONCACAF Nations League Final against Mexico, Sunday, March 24, 2024 in Arlington Texas (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

USMNT vibes after two very different friendlies

Usually, there is little stock put into international friendlies. However, these two that the USMNT just played in are against the nations that they will likely see should they make it out of their group at Copa America. Brazil and Colombia are considered the top dogs of Group D in the tournament, and with the USA’s hopes of making it out of Group C, that would mean a quarterfinal showdown vs one of these two giants.

The USMNT struggled mightily against Colombia last Saturday, on a day when Colombian fans outnumbered USA fans in D.C. From the jump it was clear the USMNT was not on their game. After letting in goals in the 6th and 19th minute, USA was out of sorts. They pulled one back early in the second half to give some life to the game, but Colombia stomped that out with three more goals all after the 76th-minute mark. A 5-1 embarrassment sent the vibes plummeting.

Fast forward four days and the USA was coming into a match against an almost full-strength Brazil. The crowd was maybe more toward a 50-50 one for this match, many of them were readying themselves for a Brazil onslaught. That never came, and as the match began it was clear the USMNT was prepared for this match. They were up for it and did all they could to stop Brazil’s potent attack. Seleção Canarinha would score first in the 17th minute, but a brilliant freekick from Christian Pulisic would tie the game just nine minutes later. USA walked away with a draw, and the vibes were at a standstill.

After two very different matches in short succession, the USMNT now has 10 days to prepare for their opening game data the 2024 Copa America; they’ll face Bolivia to start the tournament. Where do the team and the vibes go from here? It’s obvious that when the team is up for a challenge, that they can compete with anyone on any given day.

The problem is when they aren’t up for it, then it falls on the Berhlater to get them up for it, and it doesn’t seem like he has been able to do that. Time will tell if he can find a way to motivate this team when they need it. It could be the difference between a long run in the Copa America, and a group stage exit.

ORLANDO, FL – MARCH 27: during the World Cup Qualifier soccer match between the US MNT and Panama on March 27, 2022 at Explorer Stadium in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire)

Which version of this team will we see in Copa America?

With 10 days to prepare, the USMNT will need to come together to figure out which team they want to be at the Copa America. Their Group C draw is a favorable one as they are paired with Bolivia, Panama, and Uruguay. Those matches against Bolivia and Panama are seen as winnable, whereas the match against Uruguay is seen as the big test.

By the time the USA takes on Uruguay, they will have played their other two group matches and should be in a good position to advance to the quarterfinals. However, they will need to play against Uruguay well to get ready for the knockout rounds. The mentality needs to be the one they had against Brazil and not Colombia. Switch off even a little bit and you’ll get punished against these South American teams.

The USMNT will need to choose the good vibes as they get ready to play in their only competitive matches ahead of the 2026 World Cup. If they sink into the bad vibes mindset they had vs Colombia, they won’t be able to compete in big matches. We all know Berhalter isn’t gonna be able to pull the team up should they fall into that bad mindset. The players need to keep the vibes and comradery high. We shall see if they can do that, and if it translates into success on the field at a major tournament!

United States Players Celebrate on the podium after a win over Mexico in the Concacaf Nations League final soccer match, March 24, 2024 in Arlington Texas (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

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Featured Image Credit: AP Photo/Julio Cortez