In all honesty, a match against Nicaragua won’t elevate most pulses. Barring an historic loss, there won’t be much to take from this match beyond (hopefully) improved chemistry between fringe players and winning the group stage despite starting off with a draw. Maybe this does something for you.
So much for that fight. I'm now told Jesse Gonzalez has arrived in Cleveland & will be the 6th #USMNT knockout round replacement.— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) July 15, 2017
Ok, maybe Jesse Gonzalez coming in as the 3rd keeper is about as exhilarating as a nice merry-go-round right, but maybe there’s a shot he’s subbed in as the designated penalty stopper a la Tim Krul. That would be hilarious if Bruce Arena pulled that move in a knockout round against Costa Rica.
Arena’s been taking some heat for the group stage performance, and most of it is unwarranted. He’s trying out new things in a situation that is favorable for trying out different combinations of players in a low stakes environment. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Oddly enough, one of the things he isn’t taking any heat for is playing players ‘out of position’. Beyond Graham Zusi (who is at least transitioning to right back with Spork), Arena’s played Bedoya as a right mid and Christian Roldan as the more defensive central midfielder in a 4-4-2. Neither plays anything much like that for their club teams, and you can bet your life savings we wouldn’t be hearing the end of ‘out of position’ if Klinsmann was still coach.
Whether people have realized it’s a tired argument (unlikely) or if it’s due to Arena being more of a favorite with the press (probable) is immaterial. Much like his predecessor, Arena’s trying to shore up his options with talented players with a degree of flexibility and a fair amount of talent. If Arena can start the process of integrating another talent comparable to Acosta (who famously played ‘out of position’ as a left back), then once again, it won’t matter if they started at one position and ended up taking on another role. More than anything, I’m just enjoying the dearth of stupid griping.
Panama’s up 2-0 in the 61st minute (Update: 4-0 final). Better lay the wood today, Yanks. The last time the US did not win the group was 2011, and that did not end well.
How to Watch
Kickoff Time: 6 p.m. CT
Available TV: FXX, Unimás, Univision Deportes
Available Streams: Univision Deportes, Fox Sports Go
Who’s ready for smack and salacious gifs?