Saturday night’s Copa America Centenario third place match may be lacking in anticipation, but still gives American soccer fans plenty to dissect about its national team.
A haze of post-match dejection had captain Michael Bradley wondering what a third place game even means following the 4-0 loss to Argentina in a quarterfinal, but US Soccer boss Sunil Gulati sees the game as something meaningful.
Whether that was lip service to a very successful tournament or a keen desire to assess Jurgen Klinsmann, the game gives fans a chance to do the latter when the U.S. gets a rematch of a team that beat them 2-0 weeks ago.
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On that night, Colombia controlled the match. Though that’s in no small part due to early goals putting the U.S. in panic mode, Los Cafeteros are a higher-profile, more skilled side. Beating them on any occasion is a very decent thing.
Even if Colombia isn’t in high gear after a disappointing semifinal loss to Chile, we’ll be able to have a bit of a look into how Klinsmann has adapted from match-to-match against the same opponent.
We get this a little in World Cup qualifying, but rarely inside the same month. You could say Klinsman passed the last test that carries any similarity in coming back to clobber Guatemala, but that was a desperate match against a far worse side.
Tim Howard will be back between the sticks for the U.S., which is an upgrade over Brad Guzan in every way besides age. Will Klinsmann push other buttons to provide a win? Will youth be served? Tactically, will he and his staff have learned something from the first loss? Will the coach clown his critics and play Chris Wondolowski at center back?
We’ll have all those answers tonight.