The United States Men’s National Team took a big step towards qualifying for the knockout round of the Copa America Centenario on Tuesday when it defeated Costa Rica by a scoreline of 4-0 at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Clint Dempsey was the key man for the Yanks, scoring a goal and making two assists as Jurgen Klinsmann’s team brushed off its disappointing loss to Colombia in the Copa opener. Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi, and debutante striker, Bobby Wood also got on the scoresheet in what amounted to one of the most convincing performances we’ve seen from the U.S. in some time.
Klinsmann had raised eyebrows after Friday’s 2-0 loss with his assertions that Colombia’s goals aside, the two teams were equal.
But the German tactician, who if nothing else, is one of the best man-motivators in the game, backed his players and exhibited confidence by deploying the same side against the Ticos he had against Colombia. The players repaid his confidence by effectively dispatching Costa Rica in the first half with goals from Dempsey, Jones and Wood.
Dempsey’s goal, a penalty in the ninth minute, was his 50th for the U.S. Zusi’s goal came late in the second half, by which time the Costa Ricans had been run ragged and looked resigned to living to fight another day.
The result sees the U.S. move into second in Group A, behind Colombia, positioning Klinsmann’s team well to advance from a group stage in which only the top two teams progress. But before it can advance, the U.S. faces a daunting run-in with a determined Paraguay side that very nearly fought mighty Colombia to a draw on Tuesday night at the Rose Bowl.
A win against Paraguay Saturday would seal the Americans’ passage to the next round. Even a draw might do it, provided Costa Rica doesn’t pull off any kind of unlikely upset against Colombia. But while the Costa Rica win took some of the heat off Klinsmann and his team, the U.S. must be wary of this Paraguay team, particularly the danger it poses from set pieces.
U.S. keeper Brad Guzan is likely to be tested on Saturday and Klinsmann will need another good performance out of his two preferred center-backs, John Brooks and Geoff Cameron.
But taken as a whole – giving up two unlucky goals against Colombia, a team ranked third in the world; and then coming back to destroy a Costa Rican side that topped Italy, Uruguay and England in its group at the World Cup – the U.S. has made a decent showing so far in the Copa America.
With a win on Saturday the Americans would be through to the knockout round where they would likely face Brazil or Ecuador – two teams that on the basis of their showing in the tournament so far – the U.S. could stand a fighting chance against.
The USMNT faces Paraguay in its final round of group stage action, this Saturday, June 11 at 7:00 p.m. EST. You can catch the match on FS1.