by G.D. Morrill
The USA, on the heels of a 4-0 butt kicking win over Costa Rica, needed just a tie today against Paraguay to advance to the quarterfinals of the Copa America. Paraguay, the little brother of Uruguay and Argentina, tucked in the southeastern part of South America and losers earlier in the tournament to Colombia, needed to play well and win against the USA.
In Philadelphia today, Paraguay played valiantly for the first almost half hour, but in the 27th minute. Gyse Zardas, he of the blond stripe in the middle of his hair and fleet of foot, passed a ball after receiving a pass and going almost all the way to the goal line and then passing back to forward Clint Dempsey, who kicked a hard ball past a diving goalie from close to the goal to put the home team up 1-0.
In the second half DeAndre Yedlin, got a yellow card for a questionable foul, and thirty seconds later, he stupidly and blatantly disregards the fact that with another yellow, he earns a red card, and gets kicked out of the game. Beyond stupid! This is a young player who, in my opinion, has very little knowledge, and very poor ball handling skills. Klinnsmann likes him for his speed, I’m sure. However, his exit meant that the USA would from that point on, be playing for the 1-0 win. The only good thing is that he cannot play in the next game.
And so the USA played defense, giving the Paraguayans chance after chance to score. Fortunately, the Americans’ defense was up to the task and shut them out for the rest of the game, punching their ticket for the USA into the quarterfinals. With Costa Rica’s totally and unexpected, fabulous victory over Colombia in the later game, 3-2, the USA wins their group and now will play the second place team in the group with Brazil, which plays Peru today either of which can go through, or Ecuador, which is expected to readily handle an over matched Haitian team.
Either way, Klinsmann’s hope of progressing to the quarterfinals will be realized and we will have completed his goal. This team, after the defeat by Colombia, has played extremely well since, beating Costa Rica and Paraguay. This may not mean much to world or to many others, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Klinsmann can now fine tune the players for the upcoming World Cup eliminations and continue our growth into, hopefully, a spot in the top twenty in the world rankings. We currently occupy the #32 position in the world rankings. So, so far so good. And in the quarterfinals, anything can happen.
In this game, kudos go out to defender Brooks, forwards Woods, Dempsey, and Zardas, and especially to goalie, Brad Guzan, who stopped several point blank shots on goal. Lets hope our growth continues in the next round, no matter whom we play.