Games: United Stats vs Costa Rica
Date: Tuesday, June 7th
Time: 8 p.m. Eastern
Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
Television: Fox Sports 1
Not the start to the 2016 Copa America that the USMNT would have wanted. Friday night social media seemed to have Klinsmann and company done and dusted. Then, Costa Rica and Paraguay played to a 0-0 draw and everything became rosy again. With just 1 point separating the USMNT from second place, a win could put them in the driver's seat heading into the last group stage game. On the flip side, a loss and the USMNT could be eliminated by the end of the day.
United States Outlook
Nothing went well against Colombia. Two goals off set pieces and low player rankings for everyone involved. Yet, the USMNT had second half chances to really make a game of it. As demoralizing as the performance was, the fact they kept one of the best teams in the tournament within arms reach is cause for some confidence.
While there are changes that need to be made moving forward in the tournament, wholesale changes would be foolish. The back line made some key stops and held James Rodriguez in check and were only put in a bad position from a bad turnover in midfield. The forward line showed some danger early, but looked unable to sustain pressure. The midfield, however was a mess.
Possible Lineup Changes
Darlington Nagbe for Jermaine Jones
This change would allow for the team to maintain the 4-3-3 formation. Nagbe works back and is a danger in attack. His speed is an upgrade and his stamina is well above that of Jones' at this stage in his career. In recent friendlies Nagbe has been dangerous when brought in the game, and with being in a must win game, starting Nagbe and bringing in Jones late for cover might be the right way to start.
Christian Pulisic for Gyasi Zardes
Early against the Colombians Zardes showed well, however his danger cooled off as the game progressed. If the formation changes, Zardes could be kept on the field, but if the 4-3-3 is to be maintainted, it is Zardes who would be sacrificed. There's no denying the talent that Pulisic offers and it is time to get him on the field for an extended period of time. It is time to let him become a star on the international stage.
4-4-2 for 4-3-3
As a coach myself, some of the best advice I've been given was to make sure your best players are playing in a position that best suits them and then build the rest of the formation around them. Clint Dempsey is not being used to his full potential in the 4-3-3 and if we're to see the best of the forward, a change in formation is necessary. In a 2 man front line he can play just below Bobby Wood, both Zardes and Pulisic can be on the field at the same time and Bradley can hold the midfield while Nagbe plays the box to box role. If Dempsey can play to his full potential and Pulisic has a break out tournament, anything is possible.
Klinsmann always seems to find his back against a wall with the USMNT, but they always seem to find a way to get the job done. He's going to tinker a bit with the lineup, as he always does. The players will also feel a need to make up for their poor performances against Colombia, especially Michael Bradley. Expect to see the Bald Eagle flying around the field and being the general we all have come to expect from him. It's going to be a good night I think.
USMNT 3-1 Costa Rica