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USA set to defend home turf at Copa America

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Christian Pulisic and the U.S. men’s soccer team will welcome the best from CONMEBOL and CONCACAF this summer when they stage the Copa America ahead of their joint hosting duties for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Is it finally time for the USMNT to make the biggest splash on the international stage?

For Pulisic, this tournament is arriving at the right time. The 25-year-old had a resurgent season with Serie A side AC Milan after joining the team from Chelsea in the Premier League.

He arrived at Chelsea with much fanfare in 2019 and was part of their Champions League-winning side in 2021. However, his playing time began to dwindle as he was replaced repeatedly with attacking options, eventually leading him to leave Stamford Bridge.

Weston McKennie United States
Weston McKennie

McKennie in form for USA

Weston McKennie also made his mark this season in Serie A, as he returned to Juventus after a tough loan spell at Leeds to take his game up another level.

The 25-year-old reemerged as a midfield star and playmaker In Italy, contributing 10 assists in 38 matches in all competitions. He was only credited with one assist in 20 games during his time in England.

Alongside those stars, both players who scored for USA in their 2-0 CONCACAF Nations League final victory over Mexico in March will also be key players during the Copa America tournament.

Tyler Adams, who unleashed an absolute thunderbolt to open the scoring from long range just before halftime, battled injuries this season with AFC Bournemouth, including a hamstring surgery and back spasms. The Wappingers Falls, N.Y. native only made four appearances for the Cherries this season, but the defensive midfielder has been ruled fit to appear with the national team.

Gio Reyna hammered home USA’s second marker in the 63rd minute to put the Nations League final on ice and has become an integral part of the USA squad after only playing 52 minutes at the 2022 FIFA World Cup and clashing with head coach Gregg Berhalter.

One key player that will not take part in the tournament for the USA is defender Sergino Dest, who suffered an ACL tear while training with PSV Eindhoven in April. The 23-year-old had two goals and seven assists in 37 matches for PSV while on loan from his parent club Barcelona. The right-back would’ve played an important role both offensively and defensively in the U.S. team, especially as the level of competition increased in the knockout stage.

The U.S. will be looking to improve on the fourth-place finish they posted at the Copa América Centenario in 2016 when, on home soil, they were routed 4-0 by Argentina in the semifinals and then beaten 1-0 by Colombia in the third place playoff.

The biggest group stage obstacle the Americans will face will be their final round-robin game against 15-time champion Uruguay at GEHA Field at Arrowhead in Kansas City on July 1. They will need to take care of business against Bolivia and Panama first, but that could be a clash for the top of Group C and an easier path in the playoff round.

This tournament will be the last major statement the U.S. makes on the soccer stage before the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and they will want to be the ones lifting the trophy at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.