Can the U.S. Bounce Back Against Costa Rica?

Sadly, the United States didn’t get off to the hottest start to Copa América on Friday. A 2-0 loss to Colombia put the Stars and Stripes in a hole, but a draw between Paraguay and Costa Rica in the other match gave them hope of advancing. For both the U.S. and Costa Rica, anything but a win could be disastrous and I think that they will be very evenly matched on the pitch. Can Jürgen Klinsmann get a much needed victory or will this be the dagger to the hosts’ cup hopes?

In Costa Rica’s opening match against Paraguay, neither side was able to find the back of the net. What that match lacked in goals, it made up for in animosity. At the end of the 90 minutes, the two nations had combined for seven cards, including a straight red card in the 94th minute for Kendall Wastson. Wastson’s late sending off means that the Vancouver Whitecaps’ center back will be forced to miss the clash against the U.S.. Without him on the pitch, look for veteran player Míchael Umana to step into the starting lineup. The 33-year-old has registered 96 caps for his nation and is currently plying his trade in the top tier of Iranian football. After their lackluster performance against Colombia, look for the U.S. attack to try and test Umana early and often.

Similarly, to the U.S., Costa Rica’s attack struggled to find a finishing touch and only had one real semblance of a chance throughout the match. The player to watch, in my opinion, has to be Bryan Ruiz. The 30-year-old has spent time with in the Premier League (Fulham), the Eredivisie (PSV) and is coming off of a great campaign with Sporting CP in Portugal. He doesn’t have the pace that once allowed him to tear down the wings, so I think he’ll line up behind the striker. He’ll have to contend with Michael Bradley to spark Costa Rica’s attack and I think that he’s more than capable of getting past the Toronto midfielder.

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Switching to the United States, there weren’t a lot of positives to take from Friday’s loss. The defense looked shaky. The attack was almost non-existent. My favorite player, Brad Davis, wasn’t even on the roster. In short, things can only improve. I’m expecting some lineup changes from Klinsmann, particularly in the midfield. Due to his impressive performances in the warmup matches leading up to the tournament, I was surprised that Darlington Nagbe wasn’t on the pitch for the full 90 minutes. The Portland Timbers midfielder gives the U.S. a much needed creative touch in the heart of the pitch, and his ability to hold on to the ball makes him an invaluable asset for Klinsmann. I think it’s time that he finally gets a shot to make his mark on the match from the start.

Of course, if there’s going to be any change in the United States’ scoring potential, the front three are going to need to perform better. The lead man, Clint Dempsey, actually had his side’s best two chances of the match with a header cleared off the line, and a free kick that forced David Ospina into a diving save. The Texan just wasn’t consistently getting the ball in dangerous areas. The wide men, Gyasi Zardes and Bobby Wood, were almost completely anonymous for the majority of the match, but I don’t anticipate Klinsmann switching any of those players out, except maybe Wood for Christian Pulisic. Regardless of whose up top for the U.S., if they perform at the same level that they did against Colombia, we’re not advancing past the group stage.

Once again, I just can’t see the United States taking all three points on Tuesday. There just wasn’t enough promise shown during the loss to Colombia to convince me that Klinsmann’s tactics are going to work. Sadly, the final score prediction is going to be U.S. 1-1 Costa Rica.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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