With the Copa America Centenario looming next week, Saturday’s international friendly against Bolivia is the United States’ final chance to fine-tune their preparations for the tournament.
USA and Colombia will contest the curtain-raiser at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara next Friday, with the host nation’s coach Jurgen Klinsmann having outlined the semi-finals as the goal for his side.
But Klinsmann’s men must improve if they are to make any kind of splash at South America’s premier international event, with Paraguay and Costa Rica also in Group A.
After seeing off Puerto Rico, USA had their first taste of what awaits them at the Copa America in a friendly with Ecuador on Wednesday, and the performance was far from convincing.
Second-half substitute Darlington Nagbe came off the bench and scored his first international goal in the 90th minute to give USA a 1-0 win over Ecuador, who were the better team for long periods.
“I told them at half-time this game would be decided after minute 70,” Klinsmann said. “I thought it was a very good test. It gives us a good first taste of the football they play in South America.
“I’m happy because we want to build confidence with these two friendlies. We want to prove to ourselves we can compete with them.”
Another substitute to make an impact off the bench at Toyota Stadium was Borussia Dortmund teenager Christian Pulisic, who is working his way into contention for a starting role against Colombia.
“It’s nice to see a youngster like Christian having no fear, having confidence,” Klinsmann added as USA prepare to face Bolivia for the first time since the 1995 Copa America, when they lost 1-0.
“It’s also a confidence given by his team-mates. He can make mistakes but he also has that change of pace. He has the technique. He’s not overthinking the situation.”
The weekend’s clash in Kansas City will be Bolivia’s only fixture before their Copa America campaign gets underway against Panama on June 6, with Group D showdowns with defending champions Chile and Argentina to follow.
In the midst of a three-game losing streak, Bolivia have not played since suffering a 2-0 defeat to Argentina in World Cup qualifying in March.
But Bolivia – led by coach Julio Cesar Baldivieso – should provide another stern challenge for USA, having made it to the quarter-finals of last year’s Copa America.
Though, this time around, Bolivia have five debutants in their squad, while there are nine further players with 10 caps or less.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!