The U.S. Men’s National Team faces Uruguay for the first time since 2002 on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis (8 p.m. ET; FS1, Univision, TUDN).
Before the match, learn five things about the fifth-ranked team in the world and the USMNT’s final opponent before the start of the Concacaf Nations League.
One of the oldest football associations in the world, the Uruguay FA was founded in 1900, with the nation playing its first international match the following year against South American neighbors Argentina. Despite its small population and country size, Uruguay proved to be an early power of world football, winning six South American championships as well as the 1924 and 1928 Summer Olympics before the World Cup era began in 1930.
Uruguay, of course, hosted and won that inaugural tournament, defeating Argentina 4-2 in the final. Twenty years later, Uruguay won its second World Cup, besting hosts Brazil 2-1 on the last match day of the final round-robin stage.
With a current population of 3.45 million, Uruguay is by far the smallest country to win the World Cup and sixth smallest overall to participate in the tournament. While the nation hasn’t won a World Cup since 1950, it has advanced to the semifinals on three more occasions, finishing fourth in 1954, 1970 and 2010.
Uruguay is still part of the footballing hierarchy on its own continent, holding a record 15 Copa America championships, having won most recently in 2011.
Current Coach: Óscar Tabárez
A former professional player and long-time coach, Óscar Tabárez is an institution of Uruguayan football and is currently the longest-serving National Team coach in all of men’s world football. Tábarez first coached La Celeste from 1988 to 1990 and led the side to the Knockout Round at Italia ’90. After a long career in club football management, the man who would come to be known as “El Maestro” returned to the helm in March 2006 after Uruguay failed to qualify for that year’s World Cup.
In fact, with La Celeste only making it to one World Cup since he led the team in Italy, Tabárez was given the task of establishing a long-term plan for the national team programs. The plan is referred to in the country as “El Proceso”, which established an integrated and consistent playing style for Uruguay’s youth sides all the way up to the senior team and has been the main catalyst in Uruguay’s success the last 14 years.
The small nation has since qualified to each of the past three FIFA World Cups, advancing to the Knockout Round each time, and finishing fourth in 2010. He also went on to lead Uruguay to its historic 15th Copa America title in 2011. Tabárez, now 72, captured South American Coach of the Year honors in 2010 and 2011.
Here and Now
Just like the USMNT, Uruguay is ramping things up for its effort to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The team has collected a 6-4-2 record in 12 matches since the 2018 FIFA World Cup and holds an unbeaten 6-0-2 mark in 2019.
Uruguay comes into the September window off a quarterfinal finish at the 2019 Copa America, where the team won its group before falling to eventual runners-up Peru on penalty kicks.
History with the USMNT
Uruguay is one of the USMNT’s earliest opponents, with the USA facing La Celeste in just its sixth match –
a 3-0 defeat which Uruguay used on its run to claim the gold medal at the 1924 Olympics in Paris.
Holding a 2-2-2 record all-time against Uruguay, the USMNT’s biggest connection is the success stories it’s had while playing in the small nation. One of 13 teams invited to take part in the inaugural 1930 FIFA World Cup, the USA advanced to the semifinals of that tournament – technically the team’s best finish all-time.
- READ MORE: Three Tidbits of History on USA-Uruguay
In 1995, the USA also advanced to the semifinals of Copa America, becoming darlings of the host country when the team upset neighbors Argentina 3-0 to top its group. The USMNT eventually finished a surprising fourth place at the tournament.
Tuesday’s match in St. Louis will mark the first meeting between the two sides since the USMNT’s 2-1 victory on May 12, 2002 in Washington, D.C.
On Aug. 28, Tabárez named a 22-player roster for Uruguay’s friendlies at Costa Rica (Sept. 6 in San Jose) and the United States (Sept. 10 in St. Louis).
DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Martīn Campaña (Independiente/ARG; 3/0), Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray/TUR; 113/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Martín Caceres (Fiorentina/ITA; 94/4), Sebastián Coates (Sporting Lisbon/POR; 36/1), José Giménez (Atlético Madrid/ESP; 55/8), Giovanni González (Peñarol; 5/0), Diego Laxalt (Torino/ITA; 20/0), Marcelo Saracchi (RB Leipzig/GER; 4/0), Gastón Silva (Independiente/ARG; 19/0), Matías Viña (Nacional; 1/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus/ITA; 24/0), Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Flamengo/BRA; 24/3), Brian Lozano (Santos Laguna/MEX; 3/0), Nahitan Nández (Cagliari/ITA; 28/0), Lucas Torreira (Arsenal/ENG; 20/0), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid/ESP; 15/2), Matías Vecino (Inter Milan/ITA; 36/3)
FORWARDS (5): Maxi Gómez (Valencia/ESP; 13/2), Darwin Nuñez (Almeria/ESP; 0/0), Cristhian Stuani (Girona/ESP; 49/8), Brian Rodriguez (LAFC/USA; 1/0), Jonathan Rodriguez (Cruz Azul/MEX; 17/3)