June 07, 2016
Biggest Winner – Good ol’ U.S. of A.
Really no one else it could be right? Facing elimination, the USA responded with a 4-0 demolition job of CONCACAF rival Costa Rica. Even better, Colombia’s win over Paraguay means the USMNT will likely need only a draw in its final group game against Paraguay to advance. Oh, and Paraguay’s key attacker picked up a silly second yellow and will miss said game.
Daily MVP – Clint Dempsey
It’s really tempting to write a “Dempsey heard the critics and responded” story. But Richard Farley made a good point during the game.
So why does Dempsey still get the daily MVP? Because that penalty was important. It’s a must-win and an early goal will take a ton of pressure off the team. Dempsey, who’s not the greatest penalty taker in the world, accepted that responsibility, stepped up and hit an absolutely unsavable penalty. His assists came from low-percentage chances, but Deuce had plenty of good moments running at the defense and causing the Costa Ricans problems all night.
Goat of the Day – Wilmar Valdez
The President of the Uruguay Football Association says it was a “mistake” to play this Copa in the United States. But he didn’t stop there, doubling down and saying it’s “obvious to me that this tournament is pretty much put together with Mexico in mind.” He also came after soccer culture in the U.S. Funny, he only raised these concerns AFTER Uruguay was steamrolled by the Mexicans Sunday night. I’m sure the two aren’t related though.
Biggest Surprise – Joel Campbell yanked at halftime
Yes, Costa Rica was down 3-0 and didn’t seem likely to get back into the game. But taking off Campbell, arguably the Ticos’ best attacker, was a clear white flag. Worse, that was a game Costa Rica had to at least get a point out of to have a reasonable chance of advancing. Worst of ALL, Campbell coming off meant our very own Ian Lamberson’s fantasy team was doomed to finish with zero points on the night.
Worst Moment – Jose Pekerman stares deep into your soul
Best Goal – Victor Ayala
We have an early contender for goal of the tournament, folks. Ayala’s dipping strike from distance got the Paraguayans back into the game and it’s not the first time he’s popped up from outside the box.
Fernando Fiore Moment of Bliss
Total MLS is very pleased to announce this addition to the daily Copa rewind. Enjoy Fernando Fiore outing Alexi Lalas for wearing the same shirt five days in a row.
MLS guys were all over the field in U.S. – Costa Rica. The Seattle Sounders’ Clint Dempsey had a goal and two assists while Colorado Rapids man Jermaine Jones played a whale of a game and got a goal to boot. Toronto FC’s Michael Bradley rebounded from a rough game against Colombia with a good performance. LA’s Gyasi Zardes started and…well he was there, I guess. SKC’s Graham Zusi, San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski and RSL’s Kyle Beckerman all came off the bench with Zusi grabbing a late goal. And how about this stat: seven of the 11 U.S. starters play in or have played in MLS. For the Costa Ricans, NYCFC’s Ronald Matarrita and Vancouver’s Christian Bolanos both started while DC United’s Alvaro Saborio was an early sub off the bench.
Final Whistle – USMNT Narrative
Just like the Dempsey discussion, it’s easy to get sucked into the idea the U.S. was terrible against Colombia and other-worldly against Costa Rica. However, that’s not what the numbers bear out.
The U.S. defense didn’t play badly in either game and Jurgen Klinsmann seems to have finally settled on a consistent back four. The offense converted a few low-percentage chances against Costa Rica, but the same problem remains going forward: Bobby Wood and Zardes aren’t wingers and they struggle to impact the game when played wide. The clinical finishing is encouraging, though, because you don’t exactly get a ton of clear-cut chances at the international level.
Group B: Brazil v Haiti (7:30 PM ET, FS1) Orlando, FL
Group B: Ecuador v Peru (10:00 PM ET, FS2) Glendale, AZ