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US views Copa America as last big challenge before hosting 2026 World Cup

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US views Copa America as last big challenge before hosting 2026 World Cup
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US views Copa America as last big challenge before hosting 2026 World Cup

2024-06-14 01:17 Last Updated At:01:21

NEW YORK (AP) — In a region that provides few tests, the United States views the Copa America as its last significant challenge ahead of the 2026 World Cup.

“A World Cup on home soil is the biggest thing that you know we’ll probably do in our career,” star attacker Christian Pulisic said. “It’s a special time for this sport in America.”

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Brazil forward Rodrygo, left, moves the ball past U.S. forward Brenden Aaronson during the second half of an international friendly soccer match Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

NEW YORK (AP) — In a region that provides few tests, the United States views the Copa America as its last significant challenge ahead of the 2026 World Cup.

U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner gives up a goal to Colombia forward Luis Díaz during the second half of an international friendly soccer match Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner gives up a goal to Colombia forward Luis Díaz during the second half of an international friendly soccer match Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

US views Copa America as last big challenge before hosting 2026 World Cup

US views Copa America as last big challenge before hosting 2026 World Cup

US views Copa America as last big challenge before hosting 2026 World Cup

US views Copa America as last big challenge before hosting 2026 World Cup

FILE - Christian Pulisic of the United States controls the ball during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and the United States, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. Pulisic just had one of his best seasons in Europe, scoring 12 goals with nine assists in Italy for AC Milan. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)

FILE - Christian Pulisic of the United States controls the ball during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and the United States, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. Pulisic just had one of his best seasons in Europe, scoring 12 goals with nine assists in Italy for AC Milan. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)

Eighteen players from the 2026 World Cup roster were in training camp ahead of the tournament. The U.S. opens against Bolivia on June 23 at Arlington, Texas, plays Panama four days later at Atlanta and closes the group stage vs. Uruguay on July 1 at Kansas City, Missouri.

The U.S. could meet Brazil in the quarterfinals. But players and staff view this as another step toward June 12, 2026, when the Americans play their World Cup opener at Inglewood, California.

“Copa America is essential to the growth of this group, and I believe this is a very important tournament for us as a team. This is the last major tournament before the World Cup. We’ll have Gold Cup, but the caliber of teams does not match Copa America,” coach Gregg Berhalter said. “It is a building block in which to to go into the World Cup confident.”

Berhalter was let go when his contract expired at the end of 2022 in the messy fallout of a feud with the Reyna family, then brought back and returned behind the bench last September. His core is the same as during the 2022 World Cup, where the U.S. lost to the Netherlands 3-1 in the round of 16.

Pulisic, 25, comes into the tournament following his best season. He scored 12 Serie A goals in his first season with AC Milan plus one in the Champions League and two in the Europa League. His equalizer gave the Americans a 1-1 draw against Brazil Tuesday night in their last pre-tournament warmup, his 29th international goal in 68 appearances.

“He’s had some unfortunate injuries along his path and he's been at some places where maybe he hasn’t gotten the best look and wasn’t really the number one option, but I think everyone in this country knows how talented he is,” said American forward Haji Wright, Pulisic's teammate now and at the 2015 Under-17 World Cup. “He's really finding his goal-scoring form. He’s able to affect the game by actually scoring and contributing in front of the goal. And that’s something he always used to do when we were children.”

Tyler Adams, the U.S. World Cup captain and another member of that 2015 team, is regaining fitness following a frustrating 15 months. A 25-year-old defensive midfielder, Adams played just one club match from March 2023 until this past March 13 because of a torn right hamstring that needed surgery. After returning to play two matches for Bournemouth in March, the midfielder was limited by back spasms to one game over the rest of the season, an 11-minute appearance on May 11. He entered the June 12 friendly against Brazil in the 76th minute.

Right back Sergiño Dest will miss the tournament because of a torn ACL, opening the spot for 21-year-old Joe Scally. Chris Richards appears to have gained a starting spot in central defense alongside Tim Ream on a back line that has Antonee Robinson on the left.

Goalkeeper Matt Turner is a cause for concern. He lost the starting job at Nottingham Forest this season after poor play and was at fault for some of the goals in the 5-1 loss to Colombia and this week's game against Brazil.

"He’s getting his rhythm. He’s going to be fine come tournament time,” Berhalter said. “You can see that he didn’t have a regular slate of games and it’s going to take him a little bit to get into it.”

This will be the fifth Copa America appearance for the U.S., which was eliminated in the group stage in 1993 and 2007, and finished fourth in 1995 and 2016.

“What you’re seeing on the pitch is now we’re clicking even more than ever,” midfielder Brenden Aaronson said, “and I think it’s just going to continue to get better and better.”

AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

Brazil forward Rodrygo, left, moves the ball past U.S. forward Brenden Aaronson during the second half of an international friendly soccer match Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Brazil forward Rodrygo, left, moves the ball past U.S. forward Brenden Aaronson during the second half of an international friendly soccer match Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner gives up a goal to Colombia forward Luis Díaz during the second half of an international friendly soccer match Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner gives up a goal to Colombia forward Luis Díaz during the second half of an international friendly soccer match Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

US views Copa America as last big challenge before hosting 2026 World Cup

US views Copa America as last big challenge before hosting 2026 World Cup

US views Copa America as last big challenge before hosting 2026 World Cup

US views Copa America as last big challenge before hosting 2026 World Cup

FILE - Christian Pulisic of the United States controls the ball during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and the United States, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. Pulisic just had one of his best seasons in Europe, scoring 12 goals with nine assists in Italy for AC Milan. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)

FILE - Christian Pulisic of the United States controls the ball during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and the United States, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. Pulisic just had one of his best seasons in Europe, scoring 12 goals with nine assists in Italy for AC Milan. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Donald Trump said he plans to announce his vice presidential pick on Monday, the first day of the Republican National Convention.

It remains unclear whether the assassination attempt Saturday at his Pennsylvania rally has changed the former president's thinking about his potential second-in-command. But he told Fox News Channel host Bret Baier in a call that he planned to make his pick Monday.

The roll call vote to nominate that person is expected Monday, according to a person with direct knowledge of the schedule who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The person cautioned that Trump could always change his mind.

After Saturday's shooting, Trump's choice carries considerably more gravity. If a bullet had struck just a little bit to the right, Trump likely would have been killed or seriously injured.

The close call puts in stark relief the significance of a position that is a heartbeat away from the presidency. Trump has repeatedly claimed that choosing someone who was qualified to take over as commander in chief was his top consideration for the role.

“You need somebody that can be good just in case, that horrible just in case,” he said in an interview with “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” in May.

In an interview with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner taped hours before the Butler, Pennsylvania, rally, Trump was asked about how close he was to his VP pick and whether his decision-making would change if President Joe Biden steps aside.

“It’s a very important position especially if something bad should happen,” Trump said. “That’s the most important, if something bad should happen.”

Those on Trump's shortlist have differing levels of governing experience. Ohio Sen. JD Vance, for instance, has been in office less than two years, while North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum helms a state with a population (780,000 people) smaller than Columbus, Ohio (908,000). Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been in politics for decades and is in his third term in the Senate.

Before the shooting, Trump had made clear that he wanted to dramatically reveal his pick at the convention, which he said would make it more “interesting” and “exciting.”

“It’s like a highly sophisticated version of ‘The Apprentice,’” he quipped in a radio interview last week, referring to the show he once hosted that featured him firing contestants on camera.

Trump and convention organizers have said the RNC's schedule will go on as planned despite the shooting, with Trump writing on his social media site that he could not “allow a ‘shooter,’ or potential assassin, to force change to scheduling, or anything else.”

“In this moment, it is more important than ever that we stand United, and show our True Character as Americans, remaining Strong and Determined, and not allowing Evil to Win,” he wrote.

He held meetings in the days before the shooting with the top contenders. All have submitted material, including bios and photographs, to convention organizers that can be used to prepare content if they're picked, according to multiple people familiar with the conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secretive process.

The private meetings with Vance, Rubio and Burgum were first reported by ABC News.

Nothing was offered during the meetings, one of the people said.

Trump waiting until the convention to choose a running mate is later than usual for recent cycles but is hardly unprecedented.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan negotiated with former President Gerald Ford for hours during the Republican convention in Detroit but settled on his former primary rival George H.W. Bush when those discussions collapsed. Reagan cut it so close that his decision came less than 24 hours before he formally accepted the GOP nomination.

Bush himself waited until the 1988 Republican convention in New Orleans before shocking many attendees — as well as some of the then-vice president’s own top advisers — by picking little-known Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle to be his No. 2, rather than a more established running mate.

Since then, though, the tradition has been to pick a running mate shortly before the candidate’s party’s convention opens.

In 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain, looking for a way to reset his race against Democrat Barack Obama, picked little-known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin shortly before the Republican convention opened in Minnesota. He got a bump in the polls that didn't last.

Biden, a Democrat, tapped then-California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate six days before his party opened its convention, which was held mostly virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. And Trump chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in the days before the 2016 Republican convention opened in Cleveland.

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Will Weissert contributed to this report from Washington.

Follow the AP's coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.

Security vehicles are parked outside the home of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, who is on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list, Monday, July 15, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Security vehicles are parked outside the home of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, who is on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list, Monday, July 15, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Security vehicles are parked outside the home of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, who is on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list, Monday, July 15, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Security vehicles are parked outside the home of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, who is on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list, Monday, July 15, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Security vehicles are parked outside the home of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, who is on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list, Monday, July 15, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Security vehicles are parked outside the home of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, who is on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list, Monday, July 15, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Former President Trump waves to supporters after arriving to the Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport ahead of the 2024 Republican National Convention, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Former President Trump waves to supporters after arriving to the Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport ahead of the 2024 Republican National Convention, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

FILE - Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks, June 14, 2024, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Rubio is a top contender to be selected as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump's running mate. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

FILE - Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks, June 14, 2024, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Rubio is a top contender to be selected as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump's running mate. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, right, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum attend a caucus night rally, Feb. 8, 2024, in Las Vegas. Burgum, who has grown close with the former president since he dropped his own bid for the nomination before voting began, is the third top contender for Trump's running mate. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, right, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum attend a caucus night rally, Feb. 8, 2024, in Las Vegas. Burgum, who has grown close with the former president since he dropped his own bid for the nomination before voting began, is the third top contender for Trump's running mate. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE - Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally, March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio. Vance is a top contender to be selected as Trump's running mate. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean, File)

FILE - Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally, March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio. Vance is a top contender to be selected as Trump's running mate. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean, File)

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, July 9, 2024, in Doral, Fla. Trump waiting until the actual convention to choose a running mate is later than usual for recent cycles, but hardly unprecedented. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, July 9, 2024, in Doral, Fla. Trump waiting until the actual convention to choose a running mate is later than usual for recent cycles, but hardly unprecedented. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

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