Copa América
USMNT strolls past Bolivia as hosts open Copa América with a 2-0 win
Copa América

USMNT strolls past Bolivia as hosts open Copa América with a 2-0 win

Updated Jun. 23, 2024 10:30 p.m. ET

The U.S. men's national team is off to a winning start at the 2024 Copa América

The host country got first-half goals from captain Christian Pulisic and striker Folarin Balogun and kept Bolivia off the scoreboard on the way to a 2-0 victory over their South American opponents in front of 47,873 fans at AT&T Stadium in suburban Dallas. 

"Happy with performance," U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said afterward. "A lot of guys got their first Copa América game, first Copa América win, first Copa América shutout. The game was never in doubt. And I think it's a good starting point on which to build throughout this tournament." 

Here are a few quick thoughts on Sunday's match. 


Play of the game

In the days leading up to their Copa opener, members of the USMNT and Berhalter emphasized the importance of getting off to a good start against the Bolivians. They did even better than that, as Pulisic gave the home team a lead they'd never relinquish before the contest was even three minutes old.

Pulisic started and finished the play that gave the Americans the 1-0 advantage. Following a short corner kick to Tim Weah, Weah gave the ball back to Pulisic and the U.S. headliner did the rest. He danced past a Bolivian defender into the box and unleashed a curling shot that beat visiting keeper Guillermo Viscarra and ricocheted off the bottom of the crossbar before bouncing across the goal line.

Christian Pulisic scores U.S.'s first goal of 2024 Copa América

It was Pulisic's 30th international goal, pulling him even with Brian McBride for fifth on the Americans' all-time scoring list.

"The early goal helps a lot, allowed us to settle into it," Pulisic said. "To criticize anything, maybe we can put the game away, score a couple more for sure. But other than that, a pretty dominant performance it felt like."

Turning point

With the early goal secured, it felt like the floodgates could open for the U.S. Instead, they managed just one shot on target over the next 40 minutes, one that Viscarra saved. The lack of action took the air out of the pro-U.S. crowd. Going into halftime ahead by the slimmest possible margin despite controlling more than 60% of possession would've been disappointing. Fortunately for the home side, Balogun gave the Americans a cushion just before the break.

Pulisic took a pass from Reyna just inside the Bolivian half, raced forward and found Balogun to his left. The striker, who hadn't scored for the U.S. since October, took a touch to open up space and calmly slotted the ball into the side-netting with his weaker left foot. It was a huge goal for both Balogun and the USMNT.

"I think it was at a good moment," Balogun said of his goal.  "We wanted to obviously create some security." 

"Right at the start of the game, right before halftime – those goals can really help you," Pulisic added. "Today, we scored in those moments, so it was huge."

Key stat

Who says home field advantage doesn't matter? The Americans are unbeaten in their last 19 matches in the Dallas area. The U.S. is also a perfect 5-0-0 at AT&T Stadium.

"The Dallas fans were amazing today," Berhalter said.  "It's no surprise given what we've seen. Dallas is a real soccer community. So that's been great."

What's next for the USMNT?

With three points in the bag, the Americans now head to Atlanta, where they'll take on Concacaf foe Panama on Thursday (6 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app). 

"For us, it's just about building the building on this performance," Berhalter said. "We have the next game, and our sole focus is going to be how we prepare for Panama."

The hosts will once again be the favorites, but Los Canaleros have had success against the U.S. in tournament play before, beating them in the Gold Cup in 2011, 2015 and 2023. Last year's loss to Panama came while Pulisic, McKennie and most of the other U.S. regulars were getting a rest following Nations League duty, though. You can be sure that the varsity will expect to avenge that defeat in the Peach State later this week.

What's next for Bolivia?

La Verde is also back in action on Thursday. They'll have their work cut out for them against Group C favorite Uruguay, though. Should Bolivia lose that game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, it would end any chance of them reaching the knockout stage for the first time since 2015.

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