What a difference 90 minutes makes.
The internet was swirling with rumors that Jurgen Klinsmann's job could be at stake before the game. There were no changes to the lineup from the poor showing against Colombia. Sunil Gulati, US Soccer Federation President, was seen down on the field talking to Klinsmann during pregame warmups. It felt like this could be it for the helicopter-flying, German manager.
Then the USMNT routed Costa Rica.
There was a clear difference between the performance from Friday to Tuesday. Did not playing the third-ranked team in the World help? Sure it did, but there was a definite edge to the USMNT players. They knew that they let down each other, their fans, and their manager and needed to make up for that.
While the USMNT failed to effectively get numbers into the attack against Colombia, there were numerous counter-attack breaks where the US was pushing four or five attackers against equal number of defenders creating real chances. Clint Dempsey was world class, scoring the opening goal on a penalty and chipping in two assists. Jermaine Jones, after apparently being told to focus on defense in the first game, was unleashed to push forward and he looked like a different player. John Brooks again had a great game and is becoming a rock at the back.
When you see a 4-0 scoreline, you think the victor must have played a perfect game. The most amazing thing about the USMNT performance was that it was far from perfect. Michael Bradley, while not playing as poorly as he did against Colombia, did not control the game like we have come to expect from him. As the captain and experienced leader of this team I still think he's got another level that he can rise to and really push this team to another level.
Gyasi Zardes also failed to impress against Los Ticos. It might be the 4-3-3 formation that is holding him back, but even when he found himself in front of goal he failed to find the back of the net. With dangerous options on the bench waiting for playing time it wouldn't be surprising to see him lose that starting spot. Christian Pulisic has been the name on everyone's lips, but when brought on against Costa Rica, Graham Zusi looked to be in fine form and could be an option.
The 4-0 scoreline does more than boost the confidence of the USMNT and fans alike. It means that a win against Paraguay guarantees safe passage into the knockout phase of Copa America. Even a draw will be enough to see them through, with Costa Rica having to beat Colombia by six goals to overcome the goal differential.
The old saying is "you're not as good as your best game, and not as bad as your worst." Saturday will be an opportunity to show that their true form lays closer to the 4-0 beating of Costa Rica than the li 2-0 loss to Colombia.