USA vs. Costa Rica | Copa America Centenario Match Preview
The opener is in the books, with Colombia in pole position to advance out of Group A after Friday's 2-0 victory against the US was followed by Saturday's 0-0 draw between Costa Rica and Paraguay. But that second spot is up for grabs, and the two remaining group games will decide who moves on in Group A.
Three things we’re looking at in advance of Tuesday's crucial matchup:
Can the US keep hope alive?
The odds for the US, following that opening loss, were … not good:
But then Los Ticos drew against Paraguay, and the scoreless result kept options in play for the US: A loss by the US, and they're headed home, regardless of their third game's result. A draw, and much depends on Colombia winning out. A victory, and an American result against Paraguay likely puts them through – guaranteed with a second "W" on the ledger.
That is to say, the US need to come out playing for three. Anything less ambitious, and they're leaving this to the Fates. Per Clint Dempsey, they're aware:
“It’s not so much what you say, it’s what you do,” Dempsey said, at Sunday's training. “You got to go out and you got to motivate the crowd. We have to work hard. You have to inspire them and get them on our side. We appreciate the fan support. It’s always awesome to be in the stadium and have a pro-American crowd. At the same time, actions speak louder than words. We got to go out there and show what we can do.”
The Central Question
With Vancouver Whitecaps standout Kendall Waston suspended after earning an ill-advised red card in stoppage time (94') against Paraguay, Costa Rica loses both a stout defender and an aerial threat (Waston stands 6-foot-5) on the set pieces that put the US at a disadvantage against Colombia. If you're 6-foot-4 John Anthony Brooks – or one of the Yank forwards stuck in a positional/roster quagmire – this is what's known as an opportunity.
For what it's worth, here's Waston's second RC apology in two weeks:
Triste por la expulsión pero satisfecho del esfuerzo del equipo. Saludos y bendiciones pic.twitter.com/Xg43SAL14f— Kendall Waston (@kwaston88) June 5, 2016
Changing of the Guard
So they didn't start. But you knew they wouldn't. Yet the inevitable dual substitution came on schedule: Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic came in after the hour mark, with each showing flashes of their special on-ball ability. The US can ill afford a similarly staid opening, and with his back to the wall, this is the game Jurgen Klinsmann can – and should – shake things up if he intends to spark the USMNT. The future is now.