Two friendlies down, one to go for the US Men’s National Team before the Copa America kicks off. With a pair of lackluster wins under its belt, the US looks like it might finally be moving in a positive direction going into the Copa America. To keep that momentum, the US needs to play better than it has in its last two games and win the final warmup game against Bolivia.
A win is a win and at this point in his tenure, Jurgen Klinsmann will take every one he can get. But the last two games for the US, while they have been wins, have not been a joy to watch. Granted, the Puerto Rico game was on a bad field with a makeshift team and the Ecuador game was the first one with the full 23-man Copa America squad, but with the talent available to the US, many fans expect better. The first half of the Ecuador game saw very few scoring chances (only one, which Gyasi Zardes messed up with another terrible first touch) but looked much better in the second half with the additions of Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood and Darlington Nagbe. Nagbe quite literally had a perfect game. He was attack minded and completed every single one of his 33 passes (90% of which went forward) and of course scored the game winner in the 90th minute. Wood also did well despite not scoring a goal, showing good awareness with his header that setup Nagbe’s winner.
Bolivia has not fared well over the last 18 months, having won just three games since November 2014. They did make it to the knockout rounds of the 2015 Copa America (losing to Peru in the quarterfinals) but it’s been all downhill from there. They’ve only won once in six World Cup Qualifiers and currently sit ninth in the ten team CONMEBOL table. Their group at this year’s Copa America looks impossible for them to get out of (Group D with Argentina, Chile and Panama). Their 23 man roster features only five players who don’t play in the domestic Bolivian league (Luis Gutierrez who plays in Israel, Jhasmani Campos who plays in Kuwait, Martin Dalence who plays for Goteberg in Sweden, Bruno Miranda who plays in Chile, and Yasmani Duk who plays for the New York Cosmos in the NASL). The man to watch for Bolivia is 31-year-old Juan Arce who is the most experienced player in the squad with 8 goals in 49 caps.