Copa América
USMNT regains confidence ahead of Copa América: 'We'll be tough to play against'
Copa América

USMNT regains confidence ahead of Copa América: 'We'll be tough to play against'

Updated Jun. 13, 2024 10:32 a.m. ET

ORLANDO, Florida — Under normal circumstances, any team that suffers a spirit-crushing one-sided defeat will settle for nothing less than a face-saving victory in its next match.

These were not normal circumstances.

Going up against five-time World Cup champ Brazil on Wednesday, just four days after a shameful 5-1 defeat by Colombia in its first of two pre-Copa América warmup games, the U.S. men national team's backs were against the wall.


The USMNT came into the contest riding an 11-game losing streak against the all-planet Seleção, its longest run of futility against any nation.

The Americans didn't get the win they wanted. But they delivered the needed response nonetheless in a hugely entertaining 1-1 tie that was enough to make Gregg Berhalter's players feel a lot better about themselves and their chances of making a deep run when the prestigious 108-year-old tournament kicks off in cities across the country next week.

"We feel a whole lot better than last game, that's for sure," deadpanned U.S. captain Christian Pulisic, who scored the equalizer for the hosts on a first-half free kick that canceled out another unforced error that gave Brazil an early 1-0 lead. "It's definitely a step in the right direction."

It wasn't a perfect performance, to be sure. There are still plenty of things the U.S. must tighten up before the main event kicks off for the home team on June 23 versus Bolivia in Arlington, Texas (6 p.m. ET on FOX). But the Americans did play their hearts out. That wasn't necessarily the case against Colombia, which, combined with their generally sloppy play, resulted in a rout.

"As bad as the result [against Los Cafeteros] was, we knew we had to get that out of our system before Copa, and that's definitely what we did," defender Chris Richards said following Wednesday's draw.

"We know that if we bring that intensity every match, that we'll be tough to play against."

Instant reaction to USMNT drawing Brazil 1-1

"I think it was just a willingness to defend, get numbers behind the ball in transition, getting numbers back," Pulisic said when asked what the difference was in this one. "We had our talks as a team for sure. I'm not going to say exactly what went on, but it was time to hold each other accountable. It was time to step up in a big moment, in a big game, and I'm happy with the response of the guys. You can see that the effort was there."

It was. And tying Brazil for the first time in program history is no small thing; 18 of the 19 previous meetings ended with a loss for the U.S., with that lone win coming all the way back in 1998.

"When you play a team like that, they're obviously very, very good and will create chances no matter how well you're playing," said veteran center back Tim Ream, who was superb after struggling against the Colombians.

The U.S. created plenty of scoring opportunities, too. And with a little more luck, they could've stolen a win. Weston McKennie set Pulisic up for a late golden chance, but Brazil keeper Alisson Becker pawed it away from point-blank range.

The hosts needed several big saves from their own backstop. Matt Turner made 11 stops in all, most of them after his off-target pass helped gift Brazil its opener.

"He's a big-time goalie," Richards said of Turner. That's why he's our No. 1."

[Want great stories delivered right to your inbox? Create or log in to your FOX Sports account, follow leagues, teams and players to receive a personalized newsletter daily.]

Still, it was a total team response after the 19th minute mistake. "It's easy to get down on yourself once you've gotten scored on, especially early like that," Richards said. "But we knew if we kept the momentum and kept the intensity that we had that we were gonna be able to eventually put one in."

Pulisic's leveler came just nine minutes later.

As pleased as the Americans were with their gutsy response, they also weren't popping champagne in the locker room post-game. Turner was quick to put the evening into perspective.

"It's easy to go really big right now and say, 'Wow, it's the best performance,'" he said.

"We have a few days now to recover and rest, and then it's full-on tournament mode, and small mistakes can't happen anymore. And I think that's probably the biggest message."

It's not the only one, though.

"We have to demand more from each other," Turner said. "We knew that we were going to have to be at our best to have a chance in the game."

If the U.S. wasn't at its best, it was close. It's a result to build on either way.

"The effort gives us a lot of hope going into Copa," Pulisic said. "It gives us a little bit of confidence."

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered the United States men's and women's national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him at @ByDougMcIntyre.


Get more from Copa América Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more