The U.S. Men’s National Team opened up the Copa America Centenario with a disappointing performance against Colombia. Colombia defeated the United States 2-0 leaving the Americans in last place after the first round of group stage matches.
The U.S. does not need to panic after the loss to Colombia, but they will need to play better in their remaining two group stage matches.
Next up for the U.S. is a matchup with Costa Rica, who tied Paraguay 0-0 in their opening match of the tournament. Many people, including Clint Dempsey, have labeled this game as a must-win for the Americans.
Costa Rica will be playing slightly short-handed against the U.S. on Tuesday. Their star goalkeeper Keylor Navas is out with an injury and center back Kendall Watson is suspended after getting a red card in the Ticos’ opening match against Paraguay.
Costa Rica is also at a slight disadvantage because they will be playing on only two days rest, while the U.S. is playing on three days rest.
The U.S. struggled against a very good Colombia team, but radical changes to the lineup are probably not necessary to secure victory against a somewhat weakened Costa Rica team. Here is a look at the lineup I think Jurgen Klinsmann is likely to trot out on Tuesday.
Goalkeeper – Brad Guzan
Neither of the two goals conceded by the U.S. were any fault of Guzan’s. He made no major mistakes against Colombia so there is no reason to expect Klinsmann to make a change at this position.
Right Back – DeAndre Yedlin
Unfortunately, his handball that led to a penalty kick was the only major impact he had on the match against Colombia. However, his overall body of work for club and country over the past year or so should be enough to keep him in the lineup.
Center Backs – John Brooks and Geoff Cameron
Cameron lost his man on a corner kick that led to a Colombia goal, but overall he played pretty well against Colombia. Brooks was nothing spectacular against Colombia, but he wasn’t bad enough to lose a starting spot.
Left Back – Fabian Johnson
Fabian is clearly better suited as a midfielder, but he will probably start at left back again out of necessity.
Left Mid – Darlington Nagbe
Jermaine Jones is 34 years old and it might be too physically taxing for him to start all three group stage matches for the U.S. Plus Nagbe has proven himself to be a quality player who is more than capable of filling in for Jones.
Center Mid – Michael Bradley
Bradley played quite poorly against Colombia, making several terrible giveaways. However, the U.S. will need him to be at his best if they want to do well in this tournament and you do not bench your star players after one bad game.
Right Mid – Graham Zusi
Bedoya picked up a yellow card in the game against Colombia, and he did not play particularly well either. It would make sense to give Zusi a go at right mid against Costa Rica to try something new and to help Bedoya avoid a suspension.
Wide Left – Bobby Wood
Wood was a non-factor for most of the game against Colombia, but he’s still probably the best option for the U.S. at this position.
Striker – Clint Dempsey
Dempsey was inches away from scoring against Colombia and he looked like the most threatening U.S. player for most of that game. With Altidore out for this tournament Dempsey is definitely the best option at striker.
Wide Right – Gyasi Zardes
Zardes played better than I would have expected against Colombia, and I think we’ll see him out there again on Tuesday.
This is the lineup I think Klinsmann will send out against Costa Rica, but it is difficult to predict how he will try to manage this tournament.
I do not think major changes will be needed to beat Costa Rica, and I think Klinsmann realizes this, so I expect to see a pretty similar lineup to the one we saw on Friday against Colombia.