USMNT (FIFA Rank 31) v Argentina (1)
What to Watch For:
- Who replaces the suspended players? Jermaine Jones earned a red card in the victory over Ecuador in Seattle while Alejandro Bedoya and Bobby Wood are suspended due to yellow card accumulation. How Jurgen Klinsmann decides to replace those three starters will go a long way to signaling how the USMNT is going to play this match. Expect Kyle Beckerman to get a start as a holding midfielder. Then does Klinsmann go for it and start Darlington Nagbe and 17 year old Christian Pulisic? Or does he stick to more known veterans and start Graham Zusi and maybe even Chris Wondolowski? If Beckerman can not go or Klinsmann believes he needs younger legs then Perry Kitchen would also be an option. The good news is that DeAndre Yedlin will return from his red card suspension and should start at right back.
- Who partners Clint Dempsey? Bobby Wood has turned out to be the perfect partner for Dempsey in Copa America, but as you can see above he is out. Does Klinsmann move Gyassi Zardes up top in the Wood spot, does he bring in Wondolowski or does he reprieve the World Cup 2014 plan and essentially leave Dempsey up top to fight for himself?
- So this Argentina team is pretty good? They are ranked #1 in the world for a reason. Lionel Messi is the big attraction and he generally lives up to or even exceeds lofty expectations. But they are more than just Messi. Gonzalo Higuaín set the Serie A all time single season scoring record tallying 36 goals for Napoli this season and while Angel Di Maria is likely out with an abductor injury (a break for the USMNT) they will start Ezequiel Lavezzi in the other forward spot in their 4-3-3 with Nicolás Gaitán out due to Yellow Card accumulation. If they need a late goal, Argentina brings Sergio Aguero off the bench.
- Remember Bloemfontein. The last time the USMNT were overwhelming underdogs in a FIFA sanctioned tourney semi-final against the #1 team in the world, things worked out pretty well. On June 24th, 2009 the USMNT took on Spain, who were on a record equaling 35 match unbeaten run dating back to 2006, in the Confederation's Cup Semi-Final in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Goals from Jozy Altidore (27') and Clint Dempsey (74') and a heroic defensive performance led by Jay DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu and a center back playing left back in Carlos Bocanegra saw the USMNT score the historic upset.
How to Watch:
- FOX has moved their studio to NRG stadium for this game. Rob Stone hosts pre-match, halftime and post-match coverage alongside Alexi Lalas, Fernando Fiore, Aly Wagner and Stu Holden. The pregame show starts at 4 PM, a full two hours before kickoff.
- JP Dellacamera is calling the game with Landon Donovan providing analysis and Jenny Taft reporting.
- Like all Copa America Centenario knockout games except for the final, if this match is tied after 90 minutes it will go straight to penalties.
- Yellow Card accumulation does not carry over to the final or 3rd place game. The only way someone is suspended for the next game is via a red card.
- The winner plays the winner of Chile vs. Colombia on Sunday at 5 PM in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The loser of this match plays the loser of Chile vs. Colombia on Saturday at 5 PM in Glendale, Arizona.
This is your Sounder at Heart Copa America Centenario Semi-Final Gamethread Watch with us.