By: McLeod Brown
Finally…. The Rock, HAS COME BACK, no no that’s the wrong sport. But really, Copa America time is here and GOOD NEWS EVERYONE. THE UNITED STATES IS LOOKING LEGIT AGAIN. #BLESSED. But, maybe not that legit.
Little rundown of what you need to know for the group stage:
USA – The homeland has won six of seven matches this year. Thumbs up. But don’t you worry, there’re still questions about the lineup. The meat of the team’s lineup from the World Cup returns, but who Jurgen Klinsmann chooses to field and how he chooses to field them, well that’s another story. You’d think he roll with same lineup that started the second half against Bolivia last week.
That’d be a 4-1-2-3 of sorts with it going as follows:
GK – Guzan, LB – Johnson, DC – Brooks, DC – Cameron, RB – Yedlin (my guy), DM – Bradley (also my guy, sorry haters), LM – Jones, RM – Bedoya, LW – Wood, CF – Dempsey, RW – Zardes.
Me gusta. But we shall see what Klinsmann chooses to do. The team has recently trickled down to No. 31 in the world standings. That leaves a lot to be desired. Dark horse for some critical playing time? Christian Pulisic. Kid is 17. Yes, 17 and is a sure bet to earn some minutes sooner rather than later for the home side.
Colombia – This team isn’t anything to mess with. Colombia fields players that compete in the UEFA Champions League, something the United States does not do. Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez headlines that group, but there’s still others who can hold their own. Juan Cuadrado and Edwin Cardona could start for a lot of other national teams in the middle. Carlos Bacca also remains a force up front. Either way you slice it, there’s no way this team won’t be revved up to open the tournament against the host team. Upset alert indeed.
Costa Rica – Yes, Costa Rica is a tiny country. But these guys made it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup two years ago, so let’s pump the brakes on underestimating them. Joel Campbell is only 19 years old and has the look of a future start, but the real X-factor for the club is similar to the United States – their coach. Oscar Ramirez took control of the national team last August, so he’s still in the “feeling out” process with the club. Finding a way to advance past the group stage would be a way to make a statement.
Paraguay – Paraguay enters this tournament as a team in flux. A lackluster World Cup qualification run two years ago led to a near-overhaul of the roster, with Coach Ramon Diaz beginning to pick younger, more promising players over the old guard. This tournament is no different. Dario Lezcano is a little unknown striker, but the 25-year-old looks to have been given the key to the team’s attack. The Seattle Sounders’ Nelson Valdez will also compete with the team, as he looks to add a little domestic flavor to the club.
One would like to think the United States is capable of making it out of this group state, but reliability is anything but a sure thing with this club. Here’s to you and yours enjoying a cold beverage while screaming at your televisions tomorrow evening. If the United States advances (please God, please God, please God) we’ll be back for more preview action