1. Signs of an evolving team
The second half of 2015 marked the nadir of the Klinsmann era, as after a fourth-place finish at the Gold Cup on home soil the USA blew a second opportunity to qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup by losing a play-in against Mexico. All but one of the U.S. starters in the 3-2 loss -- a scoreline that flattered the thoroughly outplayed USA -- were part the USA’s 2014 World Cup squad.
USA-Bolivia: Player Ratings
The win over Bolivia, which followed a 1-0 victory over Ecuador, highlighted a group of non-2014 World Cup players we’ll be seeing at the Copa Centenario: midfielder Darlington Nagbe, striker Bobby Wood, 17-year-old Christian Pulisic, who became the youngest player known to score for the USA, and Gyasi Zardes, the one starter against Mexico in the Concacaf Cup not from the 2014 World Cup squad.
Nagbe, who had scored the winner against Ecuador, brilliantly set up Pulisic’s goal. Wood, who assisted on Nagbe’s gamewinner against Ecuador, served up Zardes for his second goal of the game.
2. John Brooks is now an undisputed starter
The German-raised central defender John Brooks, who famously came on as a sub in the 2014 World Cup opener and scored the winner in the USA’s 2-1 victory against Ghana, has claimed one of the central defender slots.
It’s not just that against Bolivia he scored his third U.S. goal and handled all his defensive duties adeptly. Brooks is coming off a season at Hertha Berlin, where his inconsistency had frustrated coaches. The only starts he missed in 2015-16 came because of injury. And Hertha finished seventh in the Bundesliga to earn a Europa League spot. Brooks, who turned 23 in January, has 66 Bundesliga and 29 German second division games under his belt.
3. The opponent must be put into perspective
You can’t argue with a 4-0 win, but Saturday’s USA’s sparring partner to prep for the Copa America Centenario is, next to Venezuela, the weakest team after the six rounds of South American World Cup qualifying with five losses and one win (4-2 at home over Venezuela in La Paz). Bolivia coach Julio Cesar Baldivieso didn’t have his full squad together until the eve of the game, when it practiced for only 30 minutes because of a power outage, reported Fox Sports.
Nevertheless, the USA enters its biggest tournament outside of a World Cup with momentum and perhaps its deepest squad since Klinsmann took charge in 2011.
May 28 in Kansas City, Kansas
USA 4 Bolivia 0. Goals: Zardes 26, 52, Brooks 37, Pulisic 69.
USA -- Guzan, Orozco (Yedlin, 46), Cameron, Brooks, Besler (Johnson, 46), Bedoya (Nagbe, 63), Bradley (Zusi, 73), Jones, Zardes (Pulisic, 63), Dempsey (Wondolowski, 72), Wood.
Bolivia -- Viscarra, Bejarano, Eguino, Cabrera, Gutierrez (Bejarano, 68), Melean (Ramallo, 54), Smedberg-Dalence (Zenteno, 74), Saucedo (Azogue, 46), Campos (Miranda, 46), Duk, Algaranaz (Castro, 46).
Referee: Elmer Bonilla (El Salvador).