5 questions that'll decide the USMNT's fate at Copa América

We're finally here: The U.S. men's national team will play its first real competitive matches since the loss to the Netherlands in the round of 16 of the 2022 World Cup -- and it's the USMNT's last real competitive matches before the group stages of the 2026 World Cup.

The Copa América matters in multiple ways for manager Gregg Berhalter's side. It's a tournament to try to win. Duh. The Euros and Copa América are the two most prestigious international competitions outside of the World Cup. At a certain point, the only real point of having a national team is to compete in these tournaments.

But because the Americans are hosting and therefore automatically qualified for the next World Cup, this is also the last real barometer check for the program before 2026. Sure, there's the Concacaf Nations League, but the USMNT already dominates that tournament and has established itself, once again, as the premier team in North America.

This tournament, though, will be the last time the U.S. team gets to play competitive matches against some of the best teams in the world. In a strange way, then, this sort of feels like the most important tournament of the Berhalter era -- for its immediate and its future stakes.

So, ahead of the USMNT's opener on Sunday against Bolívia, let's take a look at the five biggest questions facing the USMNT ahead of the Copa América and project ahead to what it means for the USMNT's chances in the tournament.