The USMNT looked putrid against Colombia to kick off the Copa America Centenario. While possession favored them, they did nothing with it. Part of that problem was the old guard. Michael Bradley looked completely out of his element as he gave away more passes than I could count. He was outmatched on and off the ball and became more of a liability than a strength.
Jermaine Jones fared only a tad bit better. He looked tired. 34 years of age clearly wasn’t doing him any favors, as he, too, was completely outmatched by the speed and dribbling ability of Juan Cuadrado. On the ball, he looked just as flustered.
Clint Dempsey was arguably the only bright spot, but even he had a tough time finding space and generating any sort of offensive relevance.
It was all very, very bad.
After the 2-0 loss, Klinsmann pointed out that he was happy with the way his team played. Bizarrely. Despite looking pale, bored and uninspired, they had apparently pleased their coach. Bizarrely.
Supporters and pundits alike were calling for changes. If the old guard couldn’t do it, it was time to rotate the new guard in. Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic were ready to play and they looked threatening when brought on late against Colombia. Sure Klinsmann would have seen that and changed things against Costa Rica, a team that has their threats.
Well, he didn’t. Or he just had loyalty to his old guard. Or he’s insane. It’s an overused quote, but insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Klinsmann wheeled out the same team and expected a different result against Costa Rica, but contrary to the definition, he got it. And he got it big time, as the USMNT crushed Costa Rica 4-0.
There are only two reasons why Klinsmann could have feasibly justified sticking with that shambolic effort against Colombia: Loyalty or insanity. While we do not know which one, perhaps a mixture of both, truly swayed his decision, I would lean towards insanity, as his post-match comments indicated that he was proud of his old guard.
Whatever the case, we have to remember that for those seven minutes before the penalty, the USMNT looked just like they did against Colombia – bored, uninspired, exhausted.
The old guard of the USMNT may be on their last hurrah. But with the fate of the nation in their hands, they have to vindicate the faith that Klinsmann has showed in them. It’s not like they can’t be replaced.