The United States men’s national team starts its run at the 2024 Copa America on Sunday.

The Copa America is South America’s continental tournament (their version of the Euros), but the United States and five other North American teams were invited to play in the 2024 version because it’s held in the U.S. (because of a larger cash grab).

This is the most important tournament for the USMNT before the 2026 World Cup. The Americans are automatically qualified for the World Cup as one of three host nations and they will not play many more high-profile matches after this summer because the top European and South American nations will be busy with World Cup qualifying.

The USMNT is grouped with Bolivia, Panama, and Uruguay in Group C.

Sunday’s opener is against Bolivia at Jerry World. On Thursday, the U.S. plays Panama in Atlanta. The group stage finale is July 1st in Kansas City against Uruguay.

The USMNT got lucky with its group draw. Bolivia is one of the worst South American nations in soccer and the home side should beat Panama nine times out of 10. Uruguay is the toughest team to play in Group C. The hope is the USMNT wins its first two games to then play Uruguay for the group crown.

Sounds easy, right?

Well, the USMNT got mollywhopped by Colombia in a pre-tournament friendly and then drew Brazil 1-1.

If the good version of the USMNT shows up, it will finish second at worst in Group C. There’s a reason why the USMNT is anywhere from -490 to -700 across various sportsbooks to advance out of the group and into the quarterfinals.

The USMNT is an eye-popping -650 on the money line to beat Bolivia and then -250 to defeat Panama. You’re obviously not betting those numbers, so let propose some tournament-long props for New Jersey online sports betting and sportsbook apps in PA.

The tournament team total for the Americans is 7.5 goals.

The key to winning that over is the Bolivia game. Bolivia has allowed 14 goals in six World Cup qualifiers and its allowed 26 goals in the last three Copa Americas. Bolivia made it out of the group stage once since 1999. That’s incredibly hard to do in what is usually a 10-team tournament where eight nations move on to the next round.

To that point, I would look into Bolivia to concede the most goals in the tournament at +650 at DraftKings. The finalists, who will play six games, might not concede anywhere close to double figures. Argentina allowed four goals on its way to winning the 2021 Copa America.

The USMNT posted at least three goals in four of its last seven games against Panama, a run that spans the last seven years.

The other wager that seems likely to cash is the USMNT’s stage of elimination in the quarterfinals at -130. The USMNT will likely face Brazil or Colombia in the final eight. Colombia’s finished in third place at two of the last three Copa Americas, while Brazil, well first of all is Brazil, but has made six of the last 10 Copa finals and won five of them.

That’s the most likely outcome for the Americans. It probably won’t help with World Cup preparation because that would mean they beat two teams they were supposed to and didn’t play well against the top-level competition.

But when you’re stuck in what’s probably the third tier of international soccer teams, that’s going to be your fate at most major tournaments.