Barcelona found themselves 2-0 down inside 14 minutes at Getafe, but rallied for a 5-2 victory thanks to a hat-trick by Pedro.
With Neymar and Lionel Messi both unavailable, Pedro took his opportunity in the spotlight well.
The 26-year-old picked up his first goal in the 34th minute when he broke free and chipped off Getafe goalkeeper Miguel Moya’s fingertips to get Barcelona back within one.
Six minutes later he broke down the left flank and his teammates found the run. Pedro latched onto the through ball, cut back inside, and rifled across face to the far corner.
The third came just two minutes later as Jordi Alba’s cross banged off Valera’s legs and fell right to Pedro in the box, who strongly finished for his hat-trick.
Cesc Fabregas added two more in the second half and the La Liga leaders kept pace with Atletico Madrid, who beat Levante 3-2. Both teams are level on 46 points but Barcelona have a 2-goal advantage in differential.
Messi is still nursing a hamstring injury, and Neymar was suspended for yellow-card accumulation.
Yes, the United States should beat Bolivia at home, and soundly, but that doesn’t make Saturday’s 4-0 win in Kansas City any less fun.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s men throttled Bolivia, picking up the biggest win over a South American foe in national team history while writing in the U.S. men’s record book from an individual standpoint as well.
Christian Pulisic became the youngest goal scorer in USMNT history, and the Americans will be feeling pretty good after improving to 7-1-1 in their last nine games before the start of the Copa America Centenario on Friday in California.
So who showed well? See below:
Brad Guzan — 7 — Called on only once or twice, but made the saves. Always hard to know what to score a goalkeeper who doesn’t have much to do. We’ll go with 7.
Matt Besler (off HT) — 7 — Filling in at left back wasn’t a problem for Sporting KC’s center back, and he even pulled off a nifty attacking trick or two.
John Brooks — 6 — Made up for a horrible giveaway by charging into the play to score the Yanks’ second goal. Out of position on a late chance that Guzan handled well.
Geoff Cameron — 7 — This team is so much better when he is healthy. Have to wonder if the Confederations Cup berth would’ve been assured with him last summer.
Michael Orozco (off HT) — 6 — Wasn’t noticed much, and that’s good for him.
Bobby Wood —7 — Lively and active, even if his finish was off.
Gyasi Zardes (Off, 64′) —7 — If he wasn’t fighting his first touch, might’ve scored 3 or 4. Two is pretty good, though, right? He’d be a center forward, but Klinsmann needs to know the man up top can handle his first touch better.
Clint Dempsey (Off, 73′) — 6 — By no means bad. Is it too far off to say he’s doing the American version of the waning years of Cuauthemoc Blanco’s Mexican prime?
Fabian Johnson (On, HT) — 6 — Slow to get back on Bolivia’s only scoring chance.
DeAndre Yedlin (On, HT) — 6 — Like Orozco, had very little to do on the right side.
Christian Pulisic (On, 64′) — 7 — He’s a mouth-watering prospect, and became the youngest goal scorer in USMNT history.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — For the most part, the U.S. national team systematically dismantled Bolivia, to the tune of a 4-0 victory (as it should have done), in its final pre-2016 Copa America Centenario tune-up Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Park. We learned a few things about Jurgen Klinsmann’s side ahead of Friday’s tournament opener…
Michael Bradley is the USMNT’s no. 6. End of story. His ability to play himself (and teammates) out of trouble at all times and hit (quick) long balls out to the wings changes the point of attack in an instant. The USMNT actually resembles a dangerous attacking side in these brief moments. (He’s also the quickest thinker in the player pool, doing things like this to set up goals.) Not to mention, he’s got the wheels to recover tons of space when a quick counter is inevitably launched the other way — something that Kyle Beckerman, for everything he’s been to the USMNT the last few years, simply doesn’t have anymore.
Alejandro Bedoya was easily the standout performer Saturday night, though, bagging a pair of first-half assists as the USMNT took a 2-0 lead into halftime. Speaking of circulating the ball quickly, Bedoya’s first-time chipped helper was the only ball that puts Gyasi Zardes into space with enough time to compose himself and beat the goalkeeper the way he did for the opener. With Bradley and Jermaine Jones capably waging the possession battle a bit deeper, Bedoya has the license — and ability — to flair out wide when a pocket of space presents itself (reference: USMNT goals scored in above links).
Matt Besler and Michael Orozco, who are center backs by nature, started the game at left and right back respectively. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world defensively, but tasked with overlapping a pair of narrow-sitting wide players ahead of them, Zardes and Bobby Wood, much was left to be desired.
Klinsmann brought Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin, full back-winger hybrids by nature, on at halftime, and things opened up all over the field. Bolivia’s full backs had to stay wide, given their speed and (actual) ability to pick out a cross. Remember those long diagonals from Bradley that we talked about above? It was open season for “The General,” who played the decisive ball over the top to free Wood down the left, at which point his cross for Zardes was the final piece for a 3-0 lead.
USMNT (finally) has impact subs … if they’re not going to start
Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic are the future — feel free to debate amongst yourselves whether or not they should instead be the present; I won’t stop you — but for now, they’re the impact substitutes the USMNT has been missing for so long. The dynamic duo came on after 63 minutes on Saturday, and immediately they looked the link up and run at opposition defenders every time on the ball.
Whether on the halfway line or the edge of the opposition penalty area, it’s quick one- and two-touch passing and moving from these two, as was the case in the 69th minute, when Nagbe turned one defender inside the box before sliding a simple square ball to Pulisic. The 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund prodigy made no mistake on the finish and bagged his first senior international goal.
At this point, perhaps they’re best suited for 30 minutes of running at tired defenders with heavy legs. At some point, though — in the not-so-distant future — they need to be given the opportunity to prove themselves as 90-minute players.
Pulisic became the youngest USMNT goal scorer in history with his second half goal, set up by Darlington Nagbe. Alejandro Bedoya had a hand in two goals as well for Jurgen Klinsmann’s Yanks, who open up Copa America play on Friday against Colombia.
Bolivia is no power, but the Yanks gave them little room to maneuver after 20 minutes of play.
Bolivia had moments early, specifically on a 15th minute set piece that saw New York Cosmos striker Yasmani Duk a split second offside in heading wide of goal.
Zardes put the Yanks ahead in the 26th minute on a cool bit of passing. Geoff Cameron found Clint Dempsey, who clipped the ball over to Alejandro Bedoya. The Nantes midfielder played a pretty ball through to Zardes, who calmly fired past a charging Guillermo Viscarra. 1-0.
This game was very chippy, with Bolivia doing the little nasty things to go with big, card-worthy fouls. The Yanks kept their composure, though, and made it 2-0 when Bedoya slid to knock the ball outside the six for Brooks to pass home with his left foot.
Bobby Wood made a lightning quick cut while running onto a Clint Dempsey pass, only to see his shot saved Viscarra on the edge of stoppage time.
The Yanks made a pair of changes at halftime, introducing DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson for Orozco and Besler.
There was a terrific build-up for the Yanks on goal No. 3, as Bradley played a gorgeous diagonal ball into the box for Wood. The Bundesliga striker worked his man and then fed Zardes for a left-footed, close-range goal. 3-0.
It took 67 minutes for Bolivia to really trouble Guzan, but the Aston Villa keeper rose to the challenge when Brooks and Fabian Johnson were a bit lax in returning to the back line.