After the U.S. men’s national team dropped its first match of the Copa America, falling 2-0 to Columbia, Jurgen Klinsmann, it was reported, could be fired if his team didn’t survive group play.
Well, the U.S. has since won three straight matches and is now in the semifinals.
“For all the talk about firing Jurgen Klinsmann and (about how) he needs to go, I think he’s proved that he deserves more time,” CBSSports.com soccer writer Roger Gonzalez said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “He’s got this team in the right direction (after) making the semifinals of the most important international tournament in the Western hemisphere.”
Yes, after beating Costa Rica 4-0 and Paraguay 1-0, the U.S. beat Ecuador 2-1 in the Copa quarterfinals on Thursday. Clint Dempsey scored the first goal and set up Gyasi Zardes for the second. In fact, Dempsey has been responsible for six of the U.S. team’s seven goals in this tournament.
“It’s all Dempsey,” Gonzalez said. “He’s just been that veteran up top, just patient with the ball, taking his chances. The header was fantastic. He’s creative. He got a ball across the face of goal for Zardes’ game-winner, and it’s really just Dempsey stepping up like he’s done for so long, someone who’s so valuable to this U.S. team. It just gives them hope.”
Gonzalez believes Dempsey will go down as one of the top five players in U.S. history.
“He’s close to passing Landon Donovan as the U.S.’ all-time leading scorer,” Gonzalez said. “He’s just a guy who’s stepped up big. Without him in this tournament, the U.S. is out in the group stage. They’re done. With him, they’re through to the semifinals and playing the No. 1 team in the world, likely. It’s just a great moment for U.S. soccer, a great victory – one of the best victories they’ve had ever.”
The U.S. will face the winner of Argentina versus Venezuela on Tuesday. The game will be held at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Argentina is a heavy favorite against Venezuela and would be a favorite against the U.S., especially since the Americans will be without Jermaine Jones, Bobby Wood and Alejandro Bedoya due to card accumulation.
It’s tough to see the U.S. beating Argentina without so many regulars.
“They’ve got some guys who are capable of coming in and producing okay, but it’s not a real positive outlook for the U.S. if you’re thinking about somehow advancing to the final,” Gonzalez said. “I think this is where the train stops for the U.S.”
Still, anything can happen, and as Gonzalez pointed out, the U.S. beat Brazil in the Gold Cup in 1998.
“We’ve seen crazier things,” Gonzalez said. “The U.S. is riding a nice wave right now.”