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Berhalter excited for USA to face Colombia before Copa America

US national team coach Gregg Berhalter (GIORGIO VIERA)
US national team coach Gregg Berhalter (GIORGIO VIERA)

US men's national team coach Gregg Berhalter is excited to face Colombia in a crucial June tuneup for the Copa America as the Americans prepare to co-host the 2026 World Cup.

The June 8 friendly at FedEx Field in suburban Washington will be the first USA match at the home of the NFL's Washington Commanders since 2012, when nearly 68,000 watched Brazil defeat the United States 4-1.

The Colombians are on a 19-match unbeaten streak and will try to capture a second Copa America title after winning on home soil in 2001.

"Colombia is a formidable opponent. We're excited for this opportunity," Berhalter said. "This game will be the starting point for a fantastic summer."

Los Cafeteros rank third in South American qualifying for the 2026 World Cup with three wins and three draws in six matches.

"They've been a standout team in World Cup qualifying and showcase some of the world's top talent," Berhalter said.

They failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup after reaching the last 16 in 2018 and delivering a best-ever quarter-finals run in 2014.

"We want to play Colombia because they are one of the best teams in the world right now," Berhalter said. "This is a team that went from disappointment to flourish. It will be a good challenge for us before Copa America."

The match will come 12 days before the Copa America opener in Atlanta, featuring Lionel Messi's Argentina -- the reigning World Cup and Copa America champion.

The tournament comprises 10 South American nations and six North American teams, and will be held in 14 venues across 10 US states.

The Americans could face Colombia in a Copa America quarter-final.

"We're getting information when we play them," Berhalter said. "If we do play them, we're even better prepared.

"What we want to do is play the highest-level opponents we can and in as many knockout games as we can."

- 'Loud and intense' -

The United States will gather more knockout experience in March at the CONCACAF Nations League.

The two-time defending champion Americans will face Jamaica in the CONCACAF Nations League semi-finals on March 21 at Arlington, Texas, for the chance to face Mexico or Panama in the final.

In Copa America, the US men will be in Group C with Bolivia, Panama, and Uruguay.

The Americans have also qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 2008, giving some players the chance to compete for gold in Paris in July and August.

"The DC area has a rich tradition in soccer. We're looking forward to playing here," Berhalter said.

"It's going to be loud and intense and that's what you want most in these international games."

The United States last defeated Colombia by 3-0 in March 2005 at Fullerton, California, but the Americans captured one of their greatest World Cup triumphs by beating Colombia 2-1 on home soil at the Rose Bowl in 1994.

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