By, Kyle Gibson
After a subpar start against Colombia in Copa America Friday, the U.S. Men’s National team returns to action Tuesday at 8 p.m. against Costa Rica.
One would assume that Colombia will beat Paraguay, but the United States essentially needs a win to keep Costa Rica at one point, forcing a necessity for a Ticos win against Colombia in the final contest.
Here are three keys for Tuesday’s match-up.
1. Do not concede an early goal:
This is a problem I didn’t include in the last game for fear of being redundant. After all, allowing early goals has plagued the U.S. in big games for years. Cristian Zapata’s eighth-minute goal from a corner again exposed the team’s penchant for allowing early goals, while also highlighting the team’s sometimes glaring set-piece weaknesses.
Costa Rica is one of the most solid teams in the tournament, so the U.S. can simply not afford to be chasing the game for long stretches.
2. No Jermaine Jones:
Jones completely lost the plot for much of his time in the game. Feeling a youthful vigor that doesn’t match his aging skill set, Jones would often rush forward, trying to take speedy Colombian defenders on. This led to plenty of dispossession and often seemed to confuse Jones’ teammates.
I would play Darlington Nagbe instead. Nagbe has been impressive in his appearances for the squad so far and has plenty of speed and technical ability.
3. Will the real Michael Bradley please stand up?
I mentioned Bradley as a key in my last post too, but I sincerely believe that as Bradley goes, so goes the team.
Often, Bradley did not display his trademark judgement on Friday and his passes were not crisp.Hopefully for the Yanks, Tuesday will be much better for Bradley.
Bonus: We need to talk about Clint.
Clint Dempsey just doesn’t have “it” anymore. The skill, above average speed and love of “trying s*&t,” as he used to call it, just does not seem to be present anymore in the 33-year old.
If healthy, the central spot Dempsey is filling would more than likely be filled by Jozy Altidore. I don’t think Jurgen Klinsmann will do this, but I think Bobby Wood would be much better in this spot.
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