The US Men's National Team's Copa America adventure ends today with a re-match against Colombia for the coveted bronze medal of the Centenario edition of the tournament. There's definitely a 'kissing your sister' feel to 3rd place matches, but there are some big picture ramifications of the result today for the Yanks. No, I'm not trying to hype this game. Yes, I will be watching the Yanks play at the same time I'm watching FC Dallas (audio will be determined by the MLS Live feed). Here's why this game is important:
1. Klinsy and the team needs a bounce back- The US warmed to the tournament, won their group, and met Jurgen Klinsmann's stated goal of reaching the semifinals. A good run of form came screeching to a halt in a 4-0 defeat to Argentina that probably wasn't even as close as the scoreline suggests. Writing off a defeat against Argentina is fairly easy; writing off consecutive humiliating defeats might be more difficult for a team that still needs results to qualify for the Hex.
As for Klinsmann, he entered the tournament firmly in the frying pan after 9 months of disappointment for the program. Failure at the Gold Cup, Concacaf Cup, Olympic Qualifying, and in Guatemala upped the pressure beyond the sphere of Klinsmann's entrenched detractors. The team's consistency and performance up to the Argentina game removed Klinsmann from the hot seat, but a highly questionable game plan, lineup, and result has the mob going back to the closet for their once lit torches. In a seemingly no-win situation, the best solution here is to win and accentuate the positives.
2. End the tournament on a high- The Copa America Centenario has been a massive success. Not only will it be the highest attended Copa America in history, it'll also be the most watched. The US's success managed to rope in more casual fans and managed to flummox
the boorish cretin highly successful Mike Francesa. We even enjoyed Mexico getting absolutely destroyed prompting this gem:
So other than the US winning the championship or making the final, it's been pretty ideal. Their highest finish in tournament history would be the cherry on top.
3. Rankings repercussions...about 43 ratings points worth- The FIFA rankings are a bit byzantine, but they are probably not changing that or the seeding procedure from 2014. I'll post the equation in the comments but spare you the details here. This individual game is worth a ton of points. A loss today is worth exactly as much as a loss against Guatemala- a big fat zero. A win, a win after penalties, or even penalty loss will help the US's average points from October 2015-September 2016; and, because it's a highly ranked CONMEBOL opponent in a 'continental final', it's their best opportunity for ranking points until the next World Cup.
The aforementioned 12 months will be worth a quarter of the US's overall rating (with another quarter coming from the preceding 24 months, and the last half from the next 12 months). The US missed out on a number one seed by 99 points in 2014, and while a 43 points bump to this year's component won't get them a seed, it's the kind of swing that might give them a chance with a strong run through the Hex and next year's Gold Cup. A win today is a much bigger deal than people think.
As for a prediction today, I have none. My last prediction was awful and optimistic (and based on the hilarious assumption that Klinsmann would field a sensible lineup).