Uruguay coach Bielsa suspended for U.S. match

CONMEBOL has suspended Uruguay coach Marcelo Bielsa for the team’s 2024 Copa América group stage finale against the United States.

The suspension is the result of Uruguay entering the pitch late for the start of the second half in their 5-0 victory over Bolívia on Thursday. Copa América regulations state that “teams must strictly respect the schedule set for the start of the game,” and that “the coach of the team concerned shall in all cases be held responsible” for infractions.

The first violation results in a warning, while the second triggers a one-game suspension for the coach. The Uruguayan Football Association was also fined $15,000.

CONMEBOL has been cracking down on teams holding up game restarts during Copa América.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni and Chile coach Ricardo Gareca were both suspended earlier in the tournament for their teams’ late arrivals to the field. Venezuela coach Fernando Batista is suspended for his team’s group stage finale against Jamaica on Sunday due to the same violation.

Uruguay assistant coach Diego Reyes told a press conference the Copa América was a very tough tournament in that respect.

“These sanctions are never taken well because it is a negative aspect for the team. We took the necessary precautions [to avoid delays] in the last game, but there were still uncertainties that could not be resolved,” Reyes said. “In a dressing room during a game you know there is a lot of activity going on, and in this tournament they have been very strict with that short period of time.”

A draw against the United States on Monday in Kansas City, Missouri, would guarantee Uruguay a place in the knockout stage of Copa América as Group C winners.

“We have to put in the best performance we can. The U.S. are a very important opponent, they have players from the best leagues in the world and they have been doing well for a long time under the current coach,” Reyes said. “Like all teams, they have their ups and downs.

“They have carried the burden of playing big games. They have a balanced squad of players who have played together for a long time, which makes them an important and always difficult opponent.”

The USMNT is in a more precarious position after losing to Panama on Thursday. The Americans could advance to the knockout stage with any result, depending on what happens in the simultaneous Panama-Bolivia game. They could fall short of advancing even with a win over Uruguay if Panama makes up the goal-difference tiebreaker in a victory over Bolivia.

“We have to go, and we have to represent our country with passion, pride,” U.S. captain Christian Pulisic said after Thursday’s loss to Panama. “We have to go and play the best game of our lives, and that’s it. We want to go, we want to win and we want to continue in this competition.”

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