Three Thoughts Ahead of USA vs. Argentina

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DENY GALLAGHER

Everything To Prove

Normally when Lionel Messi comes to the United States with Barcelona, the superstar is on a nationwide tour like a European boy band with massive crowds of people lining up just to get a glimpse. For Messi, the tour is nothing more than an extended vacation — one where he and his teammates work to get fit while scrimmaging MLS clubs and reserves from other European powerhouses.

This time around is a little bit different.

The Copa America Centenario is the Argentine’s opportunity to clear the notion that he can’t win trophies for his country wiped from the public consciousness. More importantly, the player has a chance to end the South American country’s 23-year drought in international tournaments.

With so much to prove, the United States will see peak Messi tonight. While this is amazing for spectators, it doesn’t bode nearly as well for Brad Guzan and the American defense.

The Case For Besler

In the quarterfinal against Ecuador, Matt Besler was a real bright spot at left back. With DeAndre Yedlin back in the fold, many are speculating that Fabian Johnson will move to the midfield to bolster the U.S. attack.

One case for keeping Besler at left back instead of Johnson stems from the much-needed depth in the midfield following the suspensions of Alejandro Bedoya and Jermaine Jones. The primary logic comes from how seamlessly Besler adapted to left back. In addition, the Kansas City man’s ability to get forward in the last match can’t be overlooked. A prime example of this was on Gyasi Zardes game-winner, where the defender’s service into the box helped create the chance.

For the sake of putting the best XI possible on the field, Besler may have played himself into a new position for years to come.

Find The Right Fit

Bobby Wood has had a breakout tournament of sorts, as the Hawaiian has showcased his strength on the dribble and ability to be a playmaker within the USMNT attack. Against Argentina, the United States will also be without Wood due to yellow card accumulation. With the striker out, Klinsmann will look to either change his formation or insert a Darlington Nagbe or Christian Pulisic.

Right out of the gate, the idea of Pulisic getting his first career start against the number one team in the world doesn’t seem very likely. With that said, Jurgen is the same manager that played a young John Brooks and Julian Green at the 2014 World Cup. So that option is not necessarily out of the realm of possibility.

The most logical choice seems to be Darlington Nagbe, as the 25-year old has shown that he is a viable attacking option. More than likely, Klinsmann goes with the 4-4-2 against Argentina to combat the strength of the oppositions attack. In that scheme, it would not be surprising to see Nagbe play as an attacking midfielder in front of Michael Bradley. In the 4-4-2, Graham Zusi seems like the clear choice at right midfield in Bedoya’s absence.

If Klinsmann goes with a more defensive approach, Kyle Beckerman is also a possible option to try to clog up the midfield.