PHILADELPHIA — Down a man for nearly the entire second half, the United States battled to a 1-0 win over Paraguay to advance to the Copa America quarterfinals.
With the pressure on, the USMNT’s young players came through with big performances to help the side hold on in a statement win for the national team.
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Speaking after the match, manager Jurgen Klinsmann labelled his team a group of “warriors,” especially happy with the play of Bobby Wood and John Brooks.
The way they grinded it out, the way they kept shape and discipline, they worked for each other. It was an outstanding performance.
It’s fun to see some players coming through now. Bobby Wood was being a warrior up there. Gyasi Zardes, I don’t know where this kid gets all the energy from.
John Brooks was outstanding. All of Europe is watching that, this is a big statement what he did tonight.
I’m impressed by the learning curve a younger player goes through, and you’re just happy for that process. A year ago a lot of people were very critical of [Brooks], and I said he has to have those experiences, he needs to make mistakes in order to grow. There’s not growth without failure. The performance from John was really something special.
When DeAndre Yedlin was sent off, Klinsmann was forced to put on Michael Orozco and take off Clint Dempsey. That move left Bobby Wood alone up top, the United States’ only option moving forward. Wood did well to control and hold up play, and even created some chances that could have seen the U.S. increase their lead.
However, the key performer was John Brooks, who was named man of the match for his role in the win. Brooks was massive on the back-line, and Klinsmann’s words that “all of Europe” was watching shows how highly rated the 23-year-old center-back is. Klinsmann referenced his growth from the 2015 Gold Cup, as Brooks looks a new player after a very poor showing last summer.
Moving forward, the U.S. will continue to rely on youth as some of the senior players reach the end of their international careers. Saturday’s win over Paraguay wasn’t the most dazzling display of skill, but the performances from the likes of Brooks and Wood should give fans some confidence in the team’s direction.