Down to 10 men early in the second half, USMNT manged to hold out defensively, securing their place in the knockout round of Copa America.
It proved to be a very physical match for both the United States Men’s National Team and
Paraguay, as they went at it full hammer and tongs on Saturday. The US scored the sole goal of the match, with Clint Dempsey doing what he does best, ghosting through Paraguay’s defensive line to blast through the low cross sent by Gyasi Zardes. The cross initially looked to have been sent to no man’s land, but Dempsey had slowed his run initially on the attack in the center of the box, allowing the veteran striker to seize his a new moment of glory.
USMNT’s John Brooks had himself quite the evening, making an absolute beautiful, goal saving technical tackle in the box on a break away. All US fans collectively held their breath as Brooks, switching over to defend the ball, left his feet and extended out perfectly to clear the ball off the attacking Paraguayan. This put a solid end to a very dangerous 3-1 attacking situation, and without that tackle, almost certainly would have lead to a goal for Paraguay.
The match continued to be a physical affair, the USMNT racked up six cards, with Paraguay getting only three. Two of those six cards were dutifully earned by the exuberant and youthful DeAndre Yedlin, former Seattle Sounder defensive hometown hero. In the 48th minute, Yedlin came in hard with a sliding challenge, sweeping out the legs of Miguel Almiron. This earned Yedlin his first yellow of the match, and unfortunately for the Nat’s, not his last. Less than a minute later, Yedlin came in dangerously on Miguel Samudio, tripping the Paraguayan down to the ground, which earned him the second yellow, sending him down the long walk. Some might chalk it up to Yedlin’s youth and inexperience, but at this point he knows better.
US Goalkeeper Brad Guzan also had himself a fairly great match. In the 44th minute, he came out off his to smother a very dangerous piece of attacking play. Paraguay’s Dario Lezcano was released by a perfectly timed pass from Antonio Sanabria, but Guzan made the right choice in coming off his line smartly to make the save on a tough angle from the right. Lezcano perhaps will be kicking himself for not making better use of that chance. Even more impressive of Guzan was his double save late in the second half. Inside the box, he stopped the initial hard taken shot from Jorge Benitez, with the rebound falling directly to another attacking players feet, who attempted to rocket a shot in, only to have it kept out by the ever present Guzan. It is worth noting that John Brooks at this point could’ve been called for a handball in the box, and also continued to lay down after making the initial defensive save. Although Brooks got Man of the Match, for me it goes to Brad Guzan, who kept himself in tune and present for the entire match. The USMNT will go on to face their next opponent, to be announced, this Thursday, June 16th, at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington. Seattle Sounders star Clint Dempsey will feel at home for this 6:30 p.m. match, as they hope to advance to the next round of the Copa America Centenario.