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Wasteful Peru can’t find breakthrough in critical match against Venezuela

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In one of the toughest groups of the Copa America, Peru and Venezuela are fighting for a knockout spot alongside likely title contenders in Brazil, and there probably won’t be room for both teams. That means Saturday’s matchup was nothing less than vital, and Peru was up to the task, but couldn’t find the breakthrough as they wasted 17 shots in a 0-0 draw with 10-man Venezuela.

The game kicked off right from the start, and it appeared that Peru had opened the scoring inside the first 10 minutes on a messy goal scored off a set-piece, as a free-kick curled into the box and Renato Tapia collided with Venezuela goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez as he got his head to the ball. With the goalkeeper down, Christofer Gonzales pounced right on the penalty spot and picked up the game’s first goal. However, VAR ruled it out for offside after a very lengthy review.

Venezuela’s best chance of the first half came on 22 minutes as Solomon Rondon was through on the doorstep but Pedro Gallese came out to smother the chance right on the line. After the break, Venezuela came close again with Rondon delivering a free-kick under the jumping wall that skittered just wide left.

The second half progressed as one vitally important game would, with back-and-forth flow and heavy physicality. Again Peru thought it had the breakthrough in the 64th minute, but again the offside flag denied them the chance as Edison Flores headed the ball into the back of the net but was over the line on the chance.

The game changed in the 75th minute when Venezuela defender Luis Mago was sent off for his second yellow card when he barged through the back of Andy Polo. Peru began to truly dominate and they came close yet again in a wild exchange that saw Peru shots blocked, saved by Farinez, and come off the post before the offside flag went up. Farinez was needed again with nine minutes to go as he dove left to save a distance effort from substitute Edison Flores. Jefferson Farfan put a header wide moments later, and that was the last big chance Peru would see the rest of the way as they began to waste possession down the end as well.

Venezuela survived to share the points, and now the two teams must differentiate themselves between remaining games against Brazil and Bolivia in Group A play, a monumental task.

Watch Live: Copa America — Day 2

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Hosts Brazil kicked off the Copa America with a 3-0 defeat of Bolivia on Friday, and now it’s Argentina’s time to leave the runway.

Lionel Messi and Argentina meet Colombia in a 6 p.m. ET blockbuster in Salvador, Bahia. The match will go a long way toward determining who wins Group B.

[ LIVE: Watch every single Copa America game ]

That happens three hours after Salomon Rondon and Venezuela tries to ride momentum from a demolition of the USMNT into a Group A date with Peru at Porto Alegre.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

2019 Copa America schedule

Group A: Venezuela v. Peru – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group B: Argentina v. Colombia – 6 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

LIVE – USMNT’s final Gold Cup tune-up v. Venezuela

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Gregg Berhalter is keeping six starters from last week’s lackluster friendly loss to Jamaica, but all eyes will be on debutant Tyler Boyd.

The New Zealand-born Boyd, 24, was capped five times by the Kiwis before bursting onto the USMNT’s radar via a terrific loan stint at Turkish side MKE Ankaragücü.

[ FOLLOW: USMNT play-by-play on Twitter ]

The Portugal-based playmaker with Vitória de Guimarães starts with Gyasi Zardes in attack, while Paul Arriola will also be forward.

Zack Steffen is between the sticks, with Nick Lima and Tim Ream flanking Matt Miazga and Aaron Long.

Wil Trapp continues to get the chance to start under his former club coach, and will captain the team while joining Weston McKennie and Cristian Roldan in the middle of the park.

USMNT ready for final Gold Cup tuneup

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The United States has one final tune-up for the Gold Cup as the 23-man tournament squad gets set to face Venezuela on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. ET in Cincinnati.

A lackluster performance on Wednesday resulted in a 1-0 loss to Jamaica, the first loss under new head coach Gregg Berhalter. A number of fringe players saw time in that game, but with Berhalter’s camp over and his Gold Cup roster set, so it’s likely there will be less experimentation this time around, instead hoping to give the first-team squad a chance to gel.

That likely means the re-introduction of Jozy Altidore plus Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams are now available as well. The biggest name of all will not be present, however, as Berhalter has already confirmed he will rest and preserve Christian Pulisic to keep him in top shape for the meaningful matches. Michael Bradley is also not available as Berhalter hopes to protect the 31-year-old from a recent hamstring injury, and while he’s been a full participant in practice, he did not play against Jamaica and will again be held out.

These two teams met in a 2017 Gold Cup tuneup at Rio Tinto Stadium in a match that saw Pulisic score a 61st minute equalizer to secure a 1-1 draw. Yet that game seems a lifetime ago, as just two of the starters from that game and four of the 19 players who saw time are on the current roster, including the 20-year-old Chelsea attacker.

Berhalter will want to see a much more organized and electric attacking display to give fans hope ahead of the Gold Cup, and while Josh Sargent’s omission from the squad is a head-scratching decision that could sap the attack of a late-game option, it’s not likely to affect the overall game plan for Sunday or throughout the tournament.

Predicted lineup

— Steffen —

— Adams — Miazga — Long — Lovitz

— McKennie — Trapp — Holmes —

— Morris — Altidore — Lewis —

The head man will want to get a mix of players on the field while still deploying the same tactical approach he will ask of his players in the Gold Cup and hope as many first-team players as possible can be on the field. Still, with a long summer ahead, it’s unlikely he will take too many squad risks. Omar Gonzalez played the full 90 minutes against Jamaica and could sit in favor of Aaron Long. Tyler Adams has been excelling in midfield since his move to the Bundesliga, but the USMNT has shown no signs of detouring from the plan to play Adams at right-back at the international level.

Berhalter may look to again deploy Tim Ream after playing just 60 minutes against Jamaica, but the 31-year-old is a known quantity and the coach could look to give Daniel Lovitz another chance to prove his worth against a difficult opponent. With Bradley out, Wil Trapp is again the man in the middle, without any fitness worries knowing that Bradley will take over once the Gold Cup arrives. McKennie is back in the fold while Duane Holmes should get another chance after proving one of the few bright spots against Jamaica.

Paul Arriola got 72 lackluster minutes the last time out, and Jonathan Lewis will have an opportunity to show what he can do out wide, with Jordan Morris possibly taking over on the other side. It’s possible that Morris could start the game on the bench with the aim of coming on to spell Jozy Altidore in the second half, in which case Tyler Boyd could see his name in the starting lineup.

Whoever starts at the back for the United States will have the tall task of marking MLS superstar Josef Martinez, a player coming off a record-breaking club season last year and – slow start aside – is back on track this year as well, with six goals in his last five matches for Atlanta United. He will likely be supported on the flanks by Real Salt Lake winger Jefferson Savarino and Jhon Murilla who plays in the Portuguese top flight. In the middle for Venezuela is a familiar face in Yangel Herrera, a midfield destroyer formerly of NYCFC who played the last six months at Spanish side Huesca on loan from Manchester City.

Venezuela is coming off a pair of disappointing performances and has won just once in its last five matches, a surprising 3-1 victory over Argentina in March. They dropped 3-1 to Mexico last time out on Thursday in Atlanta in Gerardo Martino’s return to Atlanta, wasting an early 1-0 lead via Murillo. Before that they drew 1-1 with Ecuador, again coughing up a first-half lead.

A win isn’t necessarily a must for the United States with the important matches to come, but an improvement from the Jamaica defeat is required to give the U.S. any kind of confidence and good vibes heading into the tournament this summer that will define Gregg Berhalter’s early head coaching days and set up the squad to begin vital World Cup qualifying on a high.

Catalonia beats Venezuela 2-1 in friendly in Spain

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GIRONA, Spain (AP) Venezuela followed its win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina by losing to Catalonia 2-1 in a friendly on Monday.

Javi Puado scored in the 88th minute to give the hosts the win at Girona’s Montilivi Stadium. Bojan Krkic opened the scoring in the 53rd and Venezuela equalized through Roberto Rosales in the 59th.

Catalonia was led by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, who retired from Spain’s national team after the World Cup last year. He nearly scored with a curling free kick that struck the crossbar in the first half.

Venezuela earned a convincing 3-1 win over Argentina in Madrid on Friday, but after the game Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel offered his resignation because he was not happy with the politicization of a pre-game visit to the squad.

Dudamel, who was on the bench on Monday, said his future would depend on talks with Venezuelan soccer federation officials.

Catalonia, the region which recently was in the middle of a heated independence dispute with Spain, was missing players because some non-Catalan teams didn’t release them to avoid the risk of injures ahead of the final period of the Spanish league.

Catalonia has often put together squads to play in friendly matches against other nations, but clubs are not obligated to release players to the region.

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