The United States men’s national team’s 2-0 loss to Colombia in the opening game of the Copa America left a lot to be desired.
Check out the highlights if you’re not up to speed:
I won’t go so far as to say “USMNT is trash” but they better act right against Costa Rica or they won’t get out of the group stage.
Here are three things Klinsmann and the boys need to do if they’re to have any success.
Let The Young Boys Shine
Jürgen Klinsmann needs to start Chrstian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe if he wants the United States men’s national team to beat Costa Rica on Tuesday. They’re dynamic, skilled, dangerous players. The U.S. needs them out there on the field if they’re going to put out a product that’s worth watching.
Christian Pulisic. ??? pic.twitter.com/i7cW0KB7ET
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 26, 2016
Obviously, he can’t start 13 players, so someone’s gonna have to make way.
I think you play with three in the middle, with Pulisic in front of Jones and Bradley. That means Bedoya out.
I like Gyasi Zardes, but Darlington Nagbe will be more useful to the USMNT in a starting 11. In a perfect world, they could both start. But Bobby Wood’s been playing good enough to lock down a starting spot and Dempsey’s word is bond. Can’t take Dempsey out or the team will have no fight.
Those six – Bradley, Jones, Pulisic, Wood, Nagbe, and Dempsey – give the United States a good mix of youth, experience, athleticism, and skill.
Get Guzan Out Of There
Tim Howard gives the USMNT more power than Guzan ever could. It’s part beard, part his performance at the World Cup 2014, and part legend. Tim Howard has become a quasi-mythical figure in USMNT lore. Even if his actual abilities are comparable to Guzan’s, the psychological boost players get from knowing Tim Howard is on the field justify his role as starting keeper.
Guzan also suffers from what I call the “Chris Bosh Effect”, for lack of a better term. It’s not his fault he looks like a dinosaur (or ostrich – depending on if you can “see the sailboat”)
By the same token, it’s not Guzan’s fault he looks like he “rolls around in slime naked when he’s not playing soccer” or a close, close relative of The Thing from Fantastic Four.
Tim Howard is a talisman for the United States; Brad Guzan is the antithesis of power.
Both of Colombia’s goals came when the U.S. was sleeping. Their first goal, an unstoppable volley off a corner kick, was inexcusable. You can’t let someone get a free crack at the ball in the box. It’s even more egregious that it fell all the way to Cristian Zapata’s feet.
Kick him in the legs, elbow him; whatever you need to do as a defender in that scrum to prevent your man from scoring.
Also, Colombia’s first goal came just eight minutes into the match. It’s bad luck to concede a goal at the beginning of a game. That’s setting yourself up for failure.
DeAndre Yedlin blacked out on Colombia’s second goal.
He’s one of the bright spots for the United States going forward, but you can’t do a handball in your own box. I forgive him because he’s young and I like him, but that’s a black mark on his permanent record for sure. The United States was never going to be able to overcome a two goal deficit.
If the United States can do these three things, they have a good chance to get out of their group and advance to the knockout round. If Klinsmann doesn’t adapt, the team could very well fall flat and be embarrassed as the hosts of the Copa America Centenario.
Never a good look to be the host nation of a tournament that can’t make it out of group play.