Jurgen Klinsmann and the USMNT stand on the brink of calamity. Staring down into the abyss that is an early exit from Copa America.
The Americans square off against Costa Rica in a do or die match tonight at Soldier Field in Chicago. A loss to Los Ticos would eliminate the hosts from the knockout round regardless of the outcome of the remaining group stage matches.
The U.S has won 15 straight competitive home matches against Costa Rica, a streak dating back to 1989, and tacking another victory to that total will put the Yanks in the driver seat for Group A's second spot in the quarter final.
Who: USA vs. Costa Rica
When: Tuesday, June 7 at 8:00pm
Available TV: FOX Sports 1, UniMas, Univision Deportes
Available Streaming: FOX Sports Go, FOX Soccer 2GO, fuboTV (free trial)
What to Watch For:
Costa Rica's Kendall Waston received a red card late in the Ticos' 0-0 draw with Paraguay on Saturday. How will they handle the loss of the Vancouver Whitecaps star? Waston is the biggest physical presence for Costa Rica on the backline. The US should be able to take advantage of his absence on set pieces and during the run of play through direct play to the center forwards.
The schedule for Group A helps the US in this one as well. They get an extra day of rest and avoided playing in near 100 degree temperatures at 5:00pm in Orlando. The US should be more fresh, and could be even more rested if they start Darlington Nagbe and/or Christian Pulisic who played less than 30 minutes each on Friday night.
After Friday nights showing against Colombia it will be interesting to see what if any changes are made to the lineup, with Klinsmann stating we was "very pleased" with the team's performance in 2-0 loss.
The U.S couldn't get anything going on the attack, with a lackluster performance by Bradley and Zardes leaving the U.S relying far too heavily on a 33-year-old Clint Dempsey to get things going offensively. Look for Klinsmann to make some changes to the starting XI, possibly giving Nagbe or Pulisic a shot, and maybe seeing another forward like Wood coming off the bench for Dempsey.
Typically, the US has performed well in must-win games against CONCACAF opponents. Jamaica in last summer's Gold Cup semifinal was a glaring exception. With Costa Rica missing Waston and Keylor Navas, the US has to take advantage. Maybe this is my heart speaking and trying to forget the dour performance on Friday night, but I think we find a way to get it done. It won't be pretty, but the US ekes out a 2-1 win to stay alive in the Copa America Centenario. Goals by Geoff Cameron (set piece redemption) and Clint Dempsey.
With their backs against the wall the USMNT get the job done, winning the match handedly 3-1, with goals by Dempsey, Pulisic, and Nagbe. Klinsmann finally comes to his senses, giving both Nagbe and Pulisic a spot in the starting XI.