Two names Paraguay will try to forget are John Brooks and Brad Guzman. The duo helped a 1-0 victory for the US Men’s National Team hold up Saturday night in Copa America.
Time and time again, the US stopped Paraguay’s attempts to score. No moment was more exciting as when John Brooks faced a 3 v 1 attack in the first half and made a clean-hard tackle to stop any chance at either a pass or a shot.
The US goal came just before that play when Michael Bradley sent a great ball into the box which Gyasi Zardes then placed into space by the penalty spot. Veteran goal vulture Clint Dempsey was able to bury the chance.
One thing was certain – both teams were playing with passion. Fouls were the norm and halftime came with the Yanks up 1-0.
Any kind of victory or at least a tie would assure the US a spot in the next round while Parguay had to win to have any chance to advance. No surprise that the second half started more intense than the first.
What was unexpected was that DeAndre Yeldin would rack up two yellow cards at the very start of the half. The resulting ejection put the US down a man and did nothing to calm emotions down at all.
For the next 40 minutes, Paraguay kept having chance by chance stopped by either Brooks in their passing lanes or Guzan’s save after save.
US coach Jurgen Klinsmann did a great job managing the subs, keeping the nine field players as fresh as possible. When the final whistle blew, there was great celebration in the American camp. The US will advance to play either Peru or Brazil in the elimination round starting next week. It is really hard to play with the type of emotion the US displayed two games in a row, and these well developed players were able to pull that off. For a CONCACAF team to knock out a COMNEBOL team is always big news.
But now let’s put this all in perspective. Paraguay is one of the bottom feeders in South America and now may be facing another coaching change in what has become a revolving door in that job. Our players are well trained. Our coaches are world class. Our system is a problem however that I don’t think the US will fix soon.
Playing either Peru or Brazil with sometimes reckless pressure tactics the US utilized against Paraguay will not yield great results in the knockout round. Our pay-to-play youth system catches up with us when we meet opponents that are part of the upper echelon in world soccer.
I was holding youth registration the other night, and some neighborhood children were playing street basketball They were far better athletes than the ones we or any soccer club were registering. I went to a group of them and asked them if they wanted to register. The kids didn’t even think twice about continuing to walk away. If I could have told them that registration was $3 like playgrounds charge for the big 3, I may have had a chance. But I couldn’t.
In Europe and South America, it is exactly the opposite. One of my players registering just finished a camp led by FC Barcelona. “He said they took the best two 6-year olds and offered to bring them to Barcelona to train. They didn’t ask them for a paid training session in Spain. They are looking for talent and paying for it on the front end. One day, I hope soon, we can learn from them.
Klinsmann is trying to find players that have had somewhat had a chance to be developed in Germany but there is no substitute for an Argentina squad that has their captain trained by one of the elite clubs on the planet from the age of 6. By the way, that guy is Lionel Messi.
Let’s look forward to the elimination round. It is an honor in Copa America especially when compared to the Gold Cup. I invite you to call into Monday Night Futbol at 7 p.m. on WGSO Radio and give us your opinions on the matter.
God Bless You All.