The United States men’s national team was eliminated from the Copa America with a 4-0 loss to Argentina June 21 in the semifinal stage, ending the team's cinderella run. The team's semi-final finish was the United States’ best finish since 1995. Since then the Stars and Stripes have only competed in the competition once failing to advance out of the group stage. Before heading home the US took on Colombia in a consolation game, ultimately falling to the South American powerhouse 1-0.
Here are five of my takeaways from the team's semi-final run:
One critique during Jurgen Klinsmann's reign at the helm of the United States is that he never put out a consistent line up. His core players have remained the same, but the supporting cast has often been a revolving door. Barring suspensions or injuries, Klinsmann played the same lineup at Copa America. The center back pairing of John Brooks and Geoff Cameron looked promising for the Stars and Stripes, providing the backline with a good mix of experience and youth as well as plenty of athleticism.
2. Klinsmann’s choices still questioned
Klinsmann is one of the most criticized coaches in men's national team history, with good reason some might add. Facing various suspensions heading into the semi final against Argentina, Klinsmann was forced to make some changes that left many wondering, such as includingChris Wondolowski in the starting eleven. Once again, when the U.S. took on Colombia in a match that had no true meaning, Klinsmann showed hesitation in giving Darlington Nagbe, a young and promising midfielder, a chance.
3. Finding their style
The United States looked best during the Copa America when they let teams come at them and then counter attacked, where Gyasi Zardes and Bobby Wood provided outlets with their speed. However, the team was not able to do this against Argentina and likely won’t be able to do so during World Cup qualification. Against lesser teams, the U.S will have to take control and attack their opposition, which is something that they have struggled with.
4. Time to bring Timmy back?
Coming off of a very rough season with Aston Villa in which Brad Guzan lost his starting spot and then regained it while his team was relegated, Guzan’s confidence could not have been too high heading into Copa America play.. Since taking over for Tim Howard in goal for the United States, Guzan has been solid but has occasionally looked shaky in the net. In the semi-final game against Argentina, With the the experienced Tim Howard behind him as well as the promising Ethan Horvath, it will be interesting to see if there will be changes in the goal for the U.S. when World Cup qualifiers roll around.
5. A need for new blood
In addition to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Klinsmann faces the task of introducing a new generation of national team players. The former German international has done a good job of including players like Zardes and Wood, but still relies on veterans like Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman. While veteran leadership is needed, players in their prime are needed to succeed at major tournaments.