The United States were knocked out of the Copa América on Monday night, losing 1-0 to Uruguay, which will likely increase the scrutiny on coach Gregg Berhalter as the team prepares for the 2026 World Cup on home soil.

Uruguay scored the only goal in the 66th minute when Nicolás de la Cruz delivered a free-kick into the box. Matt Turner saved a header by Ronald Araújo, who had outjumped defender Tim Ream, but the rebound went to Mathías Olivera, who tapped it in. Although Olivera seemed offside on the initial header, the goal was upheld after a video review.

Before Uruguay scored, the U.S. was poised to advance, thanks to Bruno Miranda’s equalizer for Bolivia against Panama in a simultaneously played match. However, Panama eventually won 3-1, securing the second spot in Group C behind Uruguay.

Berhalter fielded a lineup composed entirely of European-based players, aiming to demonstrate progress since the team’s round-of-16 exit against the Netherlands in the 2022 World Cup. However, after a promising 2-0 win over Bolivia, the U.S. suffered a 2-1 upset by Panama, culminating in this loss to Uruguay.

“Where have we come since 2022?” questioned Clint Dempsey, former USMNT captain, on Fox. “We qualified for the World Cup and got out of the group stage. Have we progressed? It doesn’t seem so. This is supposed to be our golden generation, and it feels like we’re squandering it.”

Berhalter, rehired in June 2023 with a contract through the 2026 World Cup, was unable to lead the team past the quarter-final performance of their last Copa América appearance in 2016. Despite having star players like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams, the U.S. fell short.

“We should have performed better,” Berhalter acknowledged after the game. “We’ll review what went wrong, but right now, it’s a very empty feeling.”

Uruguay was without coach Marcelo Bielsa, who was suspended for tardiness in the second halves of their first two games. Assistant coaches Diego Reyes and Pablo Quiroga led the team in his absence on a mild, humid night in Kansas City.

Facing a must-win situation, the U.S. played with urgency, especially in the first half. The match was physical and marred by questionable officiating. Folarin Balogun, who had scored twice earlier in the tournament, was frequently targeted. After a collision with Uruguay goalkeeper Sergio Rochet and later a challenge by Araújo, Balogun eventually left the game with a hip injury, replaced by Ricardo Pepi.

Uruguay also had injury concerns, with Maximiliano Araújo being stretchered off following a collision with Ream. Despite moving his arms before being taken off, his departure was concerning.

Referee Kevin Ortega, 32, from Peru, made several controversial decisions, including an interrupted yellow card incident and a delayed handball call that negated a U.S. advantage. Defender Antonee Robinson criticized these decisions, calling them “amateur hour.”

Uruguay increased their pressure in the second half, and Olivera’s goal left the U.S. in a desperate position. Despite creating a few chances, the U.S. couldn’t find the back of the net, resulting in their elimination.