Copa Centenario: The case for the USA

The USA will have its work cut out at the Copa Centenario, drawing Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay, to which it lost the last time it met each of them in friendly games and competitive matches. Group A is lot tougher than the groups the other three seeds drew but it is not an impossible draw. Here's the case for the USA against its three opponents.

Copa Centenario: Schedule

COLOMBIA (June 3 in Santa Clara, Calif.)

Colombia was one of the most exciting teams at the 2014 World Cup, introducing young James Rodriguez to the world. It exited the World Cup after a 2-1 loss to host Brazil but gained revenge for the defeat with a 1-0 win at the Copa America.

Case for the USA. Since the World Cup, the Cafeteros have not done that well. Their 1-0 win over Brazil was their only win at the Copa America, and Jeison Murillo's goal was the only goal they scored in four games.

Since opening with a 2-0 victory, Colombia is winless in World Cup 2018 qualifying. It sits in seventh place in the 10-team South American group. Before the Copa Centenario, Colombia will travel to La Paz to play Bolivia and host unbeaten and untied Ecuador.

There will be lots of pressure on Colombia and its Argentine coach, Jose Pekerman.

Last meeting: USA 1 Colombia 2 (2014). Last competitive meeting: USA 0 Colombia 1 (Copa America, 2007).

Last Competitive Match:
Colombia XI (0-1 vs. Argentina)
David Ospina (Arsenal/ENG)
Cristian Zapata (AC Milan/ITA)
Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors/ARG)
Helibelton Palacios (Dep. Cali)
Jeison Murillo (Inter Milan/ITA)
James Rodriguez (Real Madrid/ESP)
Alexander Mejia (Atl. Nacional)
Daniel Torres (Inde. Medellin)
Teofilo Gutierrez (Sporting/POR)
Macnelly Torres (Atl. Nacional)
Carlos Bacca (AC Milan/ITA)

Costa Rica (June 7 in Chicago)

Like Colombia, Costa Rica reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup, beating Greece in a shootout in the round of 16 before losing to the Netherlands in the same manner. The Ticos have one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Keylor Navas.

Case for the USA. For all the trouble the USA has had with the Ticos, it has almost always been on the road, where it has lost the last eight World Cup qualifiers.

It's been almost completely the opposite at home since the 1-0 loss in Torrance, California, in 1985 that knocked the USA out of the 1986 World Cup and marked a low point for American soccer. In the last 15 competitive games at home, the USA is unbeaten against Costa Rica with 12 wins and three ties.

Last meeting: USA 0 Costa Rica 1 (2015). Last competitive meeting: USA 1 Costa Rica 3 (World Cup qualifying, 2013).

Last Competitive Match:
Costa Rica XI (2-1, at Panama)
Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense)
Ronald Matarrita (New York City)
Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense)
Giancarlo Gonzalez (Palermo/ITA)
Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Oscar Granados (Herediano)
Randall Azofeifa (Herediano)
Cristian Gamboa (West Bromwich Albion/ENG)
Marcos Urena (FC Midtjylland/DEN)
Bryan Ruiz (Sporting/POR)
Joel Campbell (Arsenal/ENG)

Paraguay (June 11 in Philadelphia)

After reaching the World Cup four times in a row, Paraguay failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. But it rebounded, reaching the semifinals of the 2015 Copa America when it upset Brazil in the quarterfinals in a shootout.

Paraguay opened play in World Cup 2018 qualifying with two wins, one tie and one loss and sits in a three-way tie for third place but has yet to play the teams tied with it or ahead of it in the standings.

Case for the USA. As the host and organizer, the USA gets to set in the schedule in its favor. No other team will have traveled more miles by the time it has finished the first round than Paraguay.

It opens in Orlando against Costa Rica, then travels to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, to face Argentina before taking a second coast-to-coast flight to Philadelphia to meet the USA. It will have traveled 4,600 miles, compared to the 2,500 miles for the USA, which begins in Santa Clara before heading to Chicago and then on to Philadelphia.

Last meeting:
USA 0 Paraguay 1 (2015). Last competitive meeting: USA 1 Paraguay 3 (Copa America, 2007).

Last Competitive Match:
Paraguay XI (2-1 vs. Bolivia)
Anthony Silva (Cerro Porteno)
Pablo Aguilar (Club America/MEX)
Bruno Valdez (Cerro Porteno)
Miguel Samudio (Club America/MEX)
Lucas Barrios (Palmeiras/BRA)
Derlis Gonzalez (Dynamo Kiev/UKR)
Edgar Benitez (Queretaro/MEX)
Paulo da Silva (Toluca/MEX)
Juan Rojas (Cerro Porteno)
Richard Ortiz (Toluca/MEX)
Dario Lezcano (FC Ingolstadt/GER)

1 comment about "Copa Centenario: The case for the USA".
  1. Christopher Tallmadge, February 22, 2016 at 9:25 a.m.

    We are boned.

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