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USMNT blasts referee Kevin Ortega following Copa America exit

The U.S. men’s national team admitted that their poor performance vs. Uruguay led to Copa America elimination on Monday night, but referee Kevin Ortega was also at the forefront of criticism.

Ortega received ample complaints after the USMNT’s 1-0 group stage finale loss to Uruguay at Arrowhead Stadium. Mathias Olivera’s 66th minute rebound finish proved to be the lone goal of the night which eventually passed a VAR check after the Napoli defender originally looked to be in an offsides position.

However, Ortega and his staff confirmed the goal, which led to Uruguay ousting the Americans from the tournament after only three matches on home soil.

USMNT captain Christian Pulisic was visibly frustrated with Ortega’s refereeing decisions throughout the match, which led to Ortega not shaking Pulisic’s hand at the final whistle. Pulisic and head coach Gregg Berhalter reassured media that the USMNT’s elimination was down to their poor play in each of the last two losses but didn’t hide when asked about Ortega’s performance.

“Honestly, I mean I saw things that I’ve never seen before right in front of my eyes today that I just I truly I can’t believe,” Pulisic told reporters. “It’s not why we lost; we’re not out of this tournament because of officiating. But really, I’ve just seen things that I just really, I mean I think everyone can just give admit I don’t know what I’m looking at. I don’t know what they’re calling. I don’t know what he’s calling, he gives no explanation. He’s doing things that I just can’t accept.”

“It’s pretty crazy, really,” Berhalter said. “I don’t understand it. You know, I feel like I know the rule pretty well. I feel like we had the pictures that are showing how the rule could be interpreted and it’s an offside goal. It’s disappointing, it really is, but you know, that happens in football and we have to live with it, obviously.”

The USMNT now enters an uncertain two-month break before hosting Canada and New Zealand this September in a pair of home friendlies.


  1. Typical US soccer attitude blame anything but your crap performance. How many corners and free kicks did Pulisic take and not one was quality. That’s not the ref’s fault. How many sloppy selfish plays from Pulisic in this game. Sorry but he was not good vs Uruguay so take a look at the mirror because you ate some humble pie at this Copa.
    At the end of the day, we were the second worst Concacaf team at the Copa. Less points than Mexico or Costa Rica, and we had the easiest group. Costa Rica got 4 points in a group with Brazil and Colombia, but we can only take 3 in a group with Panama and Uruguay.
    Pathetic and time for a new coach that will not be afraid to sit so called stars and have players compete for spots.
    2 major tourneys for Gregg and only 2 wins vs. Iran and Bolivia. An utter disgrace. USSF is a joke for hiring him in the first place (they turned down Biesla bc he wasn’t fluent in English lmfao) and an even bigger joke for rehiring him after Qatar. No wonder the world laughs at us when it comes to soccer.

  2. The new US Soccer logo should be CP sitting on his duff, shoulders shrugged with his arms out yelling “Ref!”

  3. How about all of you whining about all officials go out and get your license. See how you hold up under the abuse from the fans and players. I refereed. It is THE most thankless job o. The planet. I got out before I assaulted someone. I actually stepped between a parent who was o. The verge of striking another official ans begged him to hit me. That was it for me.

    • Didn’t read any comments whining about officiating, other than a single point about how the copa officials were rather poor in comparison to those at the euros, and anyone watching both tournaments would easily agree. You’re right about challenges facing officials and many good ones have left and there aren’t enough left to go around. What I would say is that a failure to consistently call fouls early in a game leads to all kinds of problems, at every level of the game. Also, at the pro level, rules should be made and enforced that prevent the constant “swarming” of the center ref after every single call by players. It is disrespectful at best, a form of intimidation at worst. It also is starting to bleed into youth competitions I have been to and encourages the bad behavior of some parents.

    • Here’s the reality if you can’t handle the heat get out of the kitchen. You choose to do the job you know what comes with it why are you complaining or telling people to go out and do it themselves. It’s a choice. Stop acting like it’s some fucking burden. Just like in life and jobs some people are good at what they do and others suck and the people that suck usually get shit on.

    • I vented my fustration with the quality of officiating in Copa, and made that comparison to Euro. I felt a tournament of the caliber of Copa should not make any compromises with referees, and select seasoned professionals with positive reputations.

      But I also emphasize with Rob. I’ve known several good, well-meaning people who got out of officiating due to the conditions Rob describes. I cannot speak for other areas of the country, but we’re now seeing a serious shortage of people who will officiate at the high school and club level where I live, and based on past experience, I don’t blame them.

  4. In this discussion of the referee, I just want to put in a good word for the man I think is the best referee in CONCACAF. He is from Jamaica and his last name is Nation. Whenever I see him come out to do a game, I breathe a sigh of relief. He is very competent and never shows any bias that I can see.

  5. Ok the other guy should have received a yellow. It should have been an offside call that didn’t count as a goal.

    It still doesn’t matter as we had to win. Was the ref going to help us even when it was 0-0? No.

    Even if it was 0-0, we were not advancing. That is what everyone should focus on and direct your frustrations back on GGG.

    Dp you remember the Jamaica game? If it wasn’t for the last minute goals, GGG would have been long gone, and a new coach could have had the Copa America as his first test. Now we are giving GGG more chances than he deserves if he stays.

    GGG has no alternative tactics if plan A doesn’t work. Did you see how late he brought on Haji Wright, when he should have come in instead of Pepi? Pepi had almost half a dozen scoring chances in this tournament, and failed. Those Uruguayans would have had a hard time man handling Wright.

  6. Meh. Yes the ref was poor. But you play the game. You weren’t good enough as a team or coaching.

    If a new coach is hired tgey need a coach they have a bit of fear of. A coach who will hold them accountable in every practice.

  7. Remember, Comnebal organized this event, not the US. It’s on them and they went full cash grab. Secondly, officiating worldwide is generally poor….except for Europe’s top comp and showcases. I have seen insanity everywhere, and SA is no exception. Also, SA games are just as much street fights as they are matches. CR and Panama have the formula down. Waxing nostalgic for all things Europe, whether real or made up (many made up), is a problem that will not be overcome easily. This is what the game looks like almost everywhere out side of the very top tier.

  8. There is a remarkable contrast when comparing Euro 2024 and Copa 2024.
    – Euro isn’t played in stadiums where it is too hot to play (Miami, Glendale)
    – Euro didn’t sell ticketing to monopolies like Ticketmaster, with algorithm-driven ticket pricing
    – Euro doesn’t have temporary grass placed on top of turf surfaces
    – And you just don’t see the sheer ineptitude and lack of quality in the officiating crews in Euro when compared to Copa.

    We’re conditioned to accept substandard officiating in CONCAFAF, but the games against Panama and Uruguay in COPA exacerbated an already bad situation. The officiating is not the primary reason why the US did not advance, but it was obvious both opponents played an excessively chippy, physical style, with the confidence the referee would not call the games evenly. This just dilutes interest in Copa if the games are not well managed by the officiating crews.


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