Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Copa America Centenario Day 5: USA hammers Costa Rica, Colombia remains perfect

United States 4-0 Costa Rica
This is exactly what the USMNT needed to do after the opening match defeat against Colombia. Before the match, Klinsmann's doubters were in full force as he trotted out the exact same lineup as the opening match failure. Although he said there were many positives to come out of that starting eleven, most of the anti-Klinsmann faction saw this repeat move as a failure to adapt to the negatives that were abundant in that opening match.

Boy were they wrong.

The USA got started nice and early as Bobby Wood earned a penalty thanks to a shove in the back that knocked him down. After some pointless protesting by the entire Costa Rica squad, Clint Dempsey confidently nailed the penalty in the ninth minute to put the Americans ahead. After the goal, Costa Rica, who had looked the better team for the first couple minutes, pressed forward, but sloppy midfield play set up tons of quality chances for their opposition. Turnover after turnover allowed the USA to create powerful counterattacking chances that should really have provided more goals than they did.

They did eventually score thanks to one of these takeaways. Dempsey, after an evasive individual effort, laid a ball off for Jermaine Jones, who accurately tucked a shot inside the far post to double the lead in the 37th. In the 42nd minute, Bobby Wood would finish a similar chance with a strong move to hold off the defender with his back to goal. He would collect a pass and turn and shoot with power, giving Patrick Pemberton no chance in goal.

Costa Rica would spend much of the second half with the ball, but the stout US back line, anchored by Geoff Cameron and John Brooks, didn't allow much of anything. Los Ticos had maybe one great chance to score late in the match, but their inaccurate shooting prevented anything from materializing. Graham Zusi finished off yet another counter attack after a midfield steal in the 87th minute to provide the USA with a rousing victory over a solid CONCACAF side

Colombia 2-1 Paraguay
Colombia experienced a comfortable victory against South American doormats Paraguay. Carlos Bacca started their party in the 12th minute by heading home a James Rodriguez corner. James would provide the eventual winner at the half hour mark with a well placed shot into the far corner. David Ospina would spend the rest of the match keeping Los Cafeteros alive in the match with some great saves. Although he had no chance at the Victor Ayala 71st minute golazo that put Paraguay within a goal. Any hope of a comeback was end in the 81st minute when Oscar Romero was sent off for his second yellow card within three minutes.

The Colombia win puts them at six points and ahead of the group and also means that second place USA controls their own quarterfinal destiny. A single point against Paraguay would likely be enough to see them through. Costa Rica, thanks to the now massive goal difference agaisnt them, would need to wreck Colombia by six goals in order to go through in that case. And I highly doubt that will happen.

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