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How many times has USMNT played in Copa América? What was their best result?

So far at the Copa América, the United States men’s national team has either flopped completely or been on the verge of a final berth.

So far at the Copa América, the United States men’s national team has either flopped completely or been on the verge of a final berth.
USA Today Sports

The United States men’s national team (USMNT) will next year make its fifth appearance at the Copa América - a tournament at which the Stars and Stripes have so far alternated between extreme highs and lows: they’ve either bombed in the group stage, or been one step away from a sensational final appearance.

US the stage for CONMEBOL-CONCACAF Copa América

The US is to host the 2024 Copa América, which will also see five other teams from the Central American, North American and Caribbean region (CONCACAF) take part in a competition that’s chiefly contested by nations belonging to CONMEBOL, South America’s soccer confederation.

The involvement of non-South American sides in the Copa América is nothing new. Since the early 1990s, CONMEBOL has made a habit of filling out the typically 12-team tournament with countries from other regions, to compensate for the fact that South America’s governing body only has 10 member nations.

What’s more, this is not the first time that CONMEBOL has joined forces with CONCACAF to hold an expanded, 16-team Copa América with a 10+6 mix of countries from the two confederations. This was the case in 2016, when the US was also awarded hosting duties for a special, centenary edition of the tournament.

Before the States became the first nation from outside CONMEBOL to stage the Copa América seven years ago, the USMNT had also been invited to take part in the tournament in 1993, 1995 and 2007.

USMNT at Copa América: at a glance

  • Four appearances (1993, 1995, 2007, 2016)
  • Best performance: semi-finals (1995, 2016)
  • First ever non-CONMEBOL hosts in 2016
  • Will stage event for second time in 2024
  • Most games: Cobi Jones, Alexei Lalas, Tab Ramos - 9
  • Top scorers: Eric Wynalda, Clint Dempsey - 3

USMNT’s previous Copa América appearances: a timeline

1993 Copa América: out in the group stage

On their Copa América debut, the USMNT came rock bottom of their first-round group, managing just one point as they finished behind Ecuador, the tournament hosts, and Uruguay and Venezuela. The Americans’ sole draw was against the Venezuelans in their final Group A game - a 3-3 thriller that saw Bora Milutinovic’s side throw away a three-goal half-time lead.

1995 Copa América: surprise semi-finalists

Two years later, the USMNT did a whole lot better - so much so that they made an unexpected run to the semi-finals, topping their group on the way. The highlight of their tournament was a 3-0 humbling of Argentina on matchday three of the round-robin phase. Frank Klopas, Alexei Lalas and Eric Wynalda got the goals in what is one of the biggest results in the USMNT’s history.

Having squeezed past fellow invitees Mexico on penalties in the quarter-finals, the US were edged out by then-world champions Brazil in the semis, going down to Aldair’s first-half goal. A fourth-place finish was confirmed when Steve Sampson’s men were thumped 4-1 by Colombia in the third-place playoff.

2007 Copa América: basement boys again

When the USMNT next featured at the Copa América, in Venezuela in 2007, they delivered their worst performance to date. The Stars and Stripes lost all three group games, conceding eight goals in the process. Most notably, Argentina gained a measure of revenge for their three-goal defeat 12 years earlier, giving the US a taste of their own medicine with a 4-1 thrashing in Group C.

2016 Copa América: a semi-final return

At their next and most recent Copa América nine years later, the USMNT once more bounced back with a semi-final finish. Despite an opening defeat to Colombia, the hosts came top of Group A, before beating Ecuador 2-1 to set up a last-four clash with Argentina.

Coached by Jürgen Klinsmann, a man who had defeated the Argentinians to clinch a World Cup winners’ medal as a player, the Americans suffered another Copa América mauling by the Albiceleste: after first-half goals by Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín added two more after the break as Argentina triumphed 4-0 in Houston.

As in 1995, the USMNT were then beaten by Colombia in the third-place playoff, Carlos Bacca’s goal giving Los Cafeteros a 1-0 win.

See also:

When is the 2024 Copa América?

The 2024 Copa América is to take place between 20 June and 14 July 2024, with the final to be held at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.

Although the USMNT are tournament hosts, this is the first time that they were not given automatic entry to the Copa América. Gregg Berhalter’s men had to earn their place at the finals through the 2023/24 CONCACAF Nations League.

Along with Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, the USMNT has been confirmed as one of the four top seeds in the 2024 Copa América draw, which will be held in Miami on Thursday 7 December 2023.