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Movement key for USA v Uruguay in fateful Copa America match

Even a man down, the quality of the US side in this so-called “Golden Generation” (and it is) could have, should have, amped up the pressure on Panama.



Thad Bell Photography

After an expected victory over Bolivia in their first Copa America Group C match on June 23, the United States Men’s National Team fell 2-1 to fellow CONCACAF rivals Panama last Thursday evening. It was a red card to winger Tim Weah that did much to seal the US’s fate.

Now, Coach Gregg Berhalter’s squad must defeat a true Copa America powerhouse in Uruguay to have the best hope to move into the Round of 16. Not only did Uruguay defeat Argentina in the inaugural championship match in 1916, but they have won the tournament title 15 times, tied with the Argentines.

Speaking to media at Kansas City’s Compass Minerals National Performance Center on Saturday previous to the US Men’s National Team’s do-or-die match v. Uruguay on Monday at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, left back “Jedi” Robinson was matter of fact:

“It’s going to come down to a massive effort from the team. There is a chance this is our last game in the tournament. There is no reason for holding anything back,” he stated. “We are going to need to give everything playing against a team that we know from the past will be at an extremely high intensity, really forward-thinking, and on the defensive side pressing quite aggressively.”

Some pundits and observers alike may feel Berhalter should have been more aggressive in the second half v Panama. The goal should have been to NOT have to get a result v Uruguay, who, later Thursday night, annihilated Bolivia 5-0.

Even a man down, the quality of the US side in this so-called “Golden Generation” (and it is) could have, should have, amped up the pressure on Panama. Perhaps in a 3-4-2 formation. Perhaps with pressure on the Panamanian backs. Perhaps with subs that would have supplemented the attacking verve of the midfield supporting two up front. Instead of a significant lean towards “Come at us” in a 5-3-1 formation relying on wide backs to do a lot of heavy lifting and a going for a draw, it should have been “Try and beat us. We don’t think you can.” The “high intensity, really forward-thinking” and aggressive pressing Robinson talked about.

Perhaps then the US would not be in this must-win situation. Or better yet, calamity, where the host team may not make it out of the group stage. The same nation’s side that will be the largest host amongst partners Canada and Mexico for the next FIFA World Cup in two short years.

Asked what it will take to combat Uruguay’s engine room – its dynamic midfield – holding midfielder Tyler Adams said, “Man-to-man you have to be constantly moving. Sometimes you will not be the first option in possession. You may be the second option and then find your space.”

But Adams also provided hope in what is sure to be the biggest battle on the pitch, “They have a lot of athleticism in their midfield, as do we…We have a lot of players who match up well in this style of play specifically. Movement is going to be the biggest key in this game.”

Conservatism be damned. The United States Men’s National Team must start fulfilling their full potential Monday evening at Arrowhead. See you there.

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