The Copa America Centenario isn’t even a week old and Jurgen Klinsmann and the Americans are already on the brink of elimination.
The U.S. comes into Tuesday’s game against Costa Rica after opening the tournament with a lackluster 2-0 loss to Colombia. Normally, losing to the No. 3 team in the world wouldn’t be that devastating. But this tournament is incredibly important for Klinsmann’s tenure.
Klinsmann has continually claimed that the U.S. can beat any team in the world, and the Centenario was the perfect place to prove that. But Klinsmann and the Americans face being the first team eliminated from a tournament the U.S. is hosting for the first time. That will raise more questions about the team before the 2016 Olympics in Rio and qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
The U.S. sits one point of second place in Group A, and a decisive win over Costa Rica could put the squad back in control of its destiny. (Paraguay is the only teams it has yet to play in the group.)
Costa Rica and the U.S. are familiar adversaries, facing off many times over the years in CONCACAF qualifying. The highest profile game between the teams is the now-infamous Denver “snow bowl” they played in a blizzard in March 2013.
But if the Americans are to win Tuesday, they’ll need help from the spine of their team.
Michael Bradley is often claimed to be the best player on the team. Klinsmann has depended on Bradley to do everything for this team for quite some time. That seems to finally be wearing on him, even in his preferred position sitting in front of the defense.
Against Costa Rica, Bradley cannot have the stinker he did in the opener. He couldn’t maintain the U.S. tempo at the base of midfield. He also failed to cut off Colombia’s attempts to counter, and his giveaway led to the second goal.
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