“There is no reason at all why we can’t win Copa America,”
U.S. Men’s Soccer Coach, Jurgen Klinsmann
“Dream big. Why not?”
It’s just one game, but a win tonight for the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) could very well provide a huge boost for the team and for a soccer nation that has been striving for that next big step.
Since the United States was chosen to host the Copa America Centenario, this was the opportunity that the USMNT needed: a showcase game against one of the world’s best nations in Argentina, in a game and a tournament that has prestige.
We play one of the best teams in the world. And this is what we want,” Klinsmann said.
“This is where you want to measure yourself and give them a real fight. All I will tell them is ‘Go at them. Be courageous. Believe you can do it, absolutely.’ Every team is beatable in the world.”
Make no mistake, the World Cup Qualifying matches are more important in terms of results this year, but in terms of perception, a win over star-studded Argentina to earn a chance to play for a Copa America trophy would do wonders for U.S. soccer.
“We are 100 percent going in with the belief that we can play with them,” defender Matt Besler told the Washington Post. “We’ll see on Tuesday night. But you can’t go into a game conceding that belief already.”
The U.S. has good reason to believe they can beat this team packed with stars — and maybe the biggest of all stars — Lionel Messi.
They are full of confidence — coming off three wins against solid opponents.
They’ve played excellent of soccer — playing the ball effectively out of the back and not going in bunker-mentality mode or waiting for counter attacks. They’ve taken the game in last three wins against Costa Rica, Paraguay and Ecuador. After surrendering two first half goals early to world-class Columbia, they’ve only conceded one goal in the last three.
There’s a sense of camaraderie among the players that was clear at the end of last game as they were hanging on to a 1-0 lead over Ecuador. Watching goalkeeper Brad Guzan and his back line mates in unison — and giving bro-hugs after making clearances and big saves.
They want it badly.
And they have their work cut out for them.
Taking on an Argentinian team that features the likes of Messi, Angel DiMaria, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero, will be the biggest challenge they’ve faced since seeing Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.
The U.S. has been in an international tournament semifinal before not too long ago — against a World number one team — and won.
In 2009, they defeated Spain at the Confederations Cup semifinal. They even took a 2-0 lead over Brazil in the Final, before falling 3-2, just missing the chance to savor a significant international tournament victory.
Now they are at home, and the opportunity is here.
They have to overcome three suspensions for yellow card accumulation (Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya and Bobby Wood) — all who have played key roles in the tournament.
Will this be a chance for Klinsmann to bring in the likes of Darlington Nagbe or 18-year old Borussia Dortmund potential star-in-the-making — Christian Pulisic?
Jones will likely be replaced by the steady veteran Kyle Beckerman, a defensive midfielder. But Nagbe and Pulisic could be thrusted into even bigger roles on Tuesday. Fabian Johnson, who’s been playing outside back — may move up to the wing to replace Bedoya.
Containing Aguero, Messi and DiMaria is going to be a huge challenge. At center back the U.S. has been featuring John Brooks and Geoff Cameron — and having conceded only set piece goals in this tournament — they have defended very well in the run of play.
But with Messi orchestrating the attack, this will be a different animal. Michael Bradley and Beckerman will have to be sharp and at the top of their games to sustain U.S. possessions or it could be a long evening for the Yanks.
Of course it helps that Cameron has some experience playing against Aguero in the English Premier League — and playing for Hertha BSC, Brooks faces some of the best players in Bundasliga. .
Bottom line here is that Klinsmann will have to have the U.S. coming out on the attack. Take chances and try to get up early on Argentina.
It’s a chance for a win that will do wonders for U.S. Soccer.
No way should they be holding back. It’s time to go for it.
U.S. vs Argentina – Copa American Centenario – Semifinal
NRG Stadium- Houston, TX 9:30 p.m. EST Kickoff
TV – Fox Sports
Pittsburgh Chapter of American Outlaws will be watching the game tonight at South Side Works…