Copa América: Christian Pulisic, USMNT blast officiating after loss to Uruguay

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The U.S. men’s national team was officially knocked out of the 2024 Copa América on Monday night after a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.

But as the game ended, a rough moment between American captain Christian Pulisic and the official perfectly encapsulated how frustrated they were with how the match at Arrowhead Stadium was run.

Pulisic was seen almost taunting official Kevin Ortega while trying to encourage him to go celebrate with Uruguay on the field. Then, after Pulisic shook a line judge’s hand, Ortega refused to follow suit.

“Yeah, he wouldn’t shake my hand,” Pulisic said postgame. “But it’s normal. I mean, I guess.”

While there’s plenty of calls Monday that could be criticized, fair or otherwise, there were two main instances of questionable moments with the officiating in the match. One of them led to Uruguay’s only goal.

In the second half, Uruguay’s Mathías Olivera was just barely onsides when he scored, which was confirmed by a video review. In the moment when Fox announcers were talking through the replay, however, it seemed to be clear that he was one of two players offsides — which would have negated the goal.

In the first half, there was a moment where Ortega called for a foul but then remarkably let play continue on. Ortega called a foul on U.S. defender Chris Richards and clearly pulled out a yellow card to make his call, but then suddenly put it away while Uruguay carried on and nearly scored a goal. Tim Ream managed to scramble back and clear the ball, but the rest of the U.S. team had stopped play when Ortega first made his call.

Pulisic’s frustration seemed to boil over in the final moments of the match. He was seen screaming at Ortega and following him around after not getting a call in stoppage time.

“Honestly, I mean, I saw things that I’ve never seen before, right in front of my eyes today, that truly I can’t believe,” Pulisic said. “It’s not why we lost. We’re not out of this tournament because of officiation. But really, I’ve just seen things that — really, I mean … I don’t know what I’m looking at, I don’t know what they’re calling, he gives no explanation, he’s doing things that I just can’t — I can’t accept.”

Christian Pulisc was seen getting into it with official Kevin Ortega repeatedly at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night.

Christian Pulisc was seen getting into it with official Kevin Ortega repeatedly at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night. (Shaun Clark/Getty Images)

Pulisic wasn’t alone in criticizing the officiating after the match, either. Antonee Robinson also ripped the referees, especially when it came to the yellow card incident in the first half.

“It was draining,” Robinson said. “The referee clearly doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing, doesn’t know how to control the game … This referee was awful. Never seen a referee let a quick free kick go while he’s got a yellow card in hand. It’s literally embarrassing. And [I] hope something happens to him from that.”

As both Pulisic and Robinson noted, the United States’ exit from the tournament didn’t come down to officiating alone. They fell 2-1 to Panama last week earlier in group play, which made the match against Uruguay pretty much a must-win.

But with several questionable moments and the handshake incident at the end, it’s no wonder Pulisic and others were upset by the officials on Monday night.

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