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The Gregg Berhalter era of the U.S. Men’s National Team has been challenging to evaluate due to the extreme positions taken by critics and supporters. Berhalter’s initial promise to change the perception of American soccer complicated matters further, especially after the team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The pressure is on for the team to perform well in the 2026 World Cup, which will be on home soil.

A recent article by Yahoo Sports’ Henry Bushnell highlighted the team’s recent success in the Concacaf Nations League, suggesting that the U.S. team has outgrown regional competition and needs to seek higher-level games to reach its potential before 2026. While the team will have the opportunity to face top teams in the upcoming Copa America, it is misleading to claim that the program has nothing left to prove at a regional level, especially considering Mexico’s decline in recent years.

The U.S. team’s away record in Concacaf matches is a cause for concern, as they have struggled to secure wins on the road, with only three victories out of 12 competitive away matches. This raises questions about the team’s ability to perform in challenging environments outside of their home soil. The overall depth of the region has also improved, with teams like Canada, Jamaica, and Panama posing a threat to the U.S.

While the U.S. team has won four of six Concacaf trophies under Berhalter’s guidance, three of those victories came in the Nations League, a competition that did not exist before his tenure. The dominance of the U.S. and Mexico in regional tournaments may not necessarily indicate progress, as Mexico has experienced a decline in performance, failing to advance past the group stage in the last World Cup. This suggests that the region’s gap is narrowing, rather than the U.S. team’s definitive growth.

Playing in the Copa America is a positive step for the U.S. national team, providing them with competitive fixtures beyond the region. However, it does not necessarily reflect significant growth in the current program, as the need for challenging matches outside of Concacaf is not a new development. The recent dominance of Mexico by the U.S. is more a reflection of Mexico’s poor performance rather than unquestioned superiority in the region. Fans deserve a more realistic assessment of the team’s progress, considering their performances against other Concacaf teams.

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