Thu | Jan 18, 2018

US will have roster tested in Copa America semis against Argentina

Published:Tuesday | June 21, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Argentina's Lionel Messi (10) dribbles the ball against Venezuela's Alexander Gonzalez (21) during the second half of a Copa America Centenario soccer quarterfinal last Saturday.
United States midfielder Jermaine Jones, second from right, protests to referee Wilmar Roldan, second from left, after Roldan gave Jones a red card in the second half of a Copa America Centenario soccer match against Ecuador, last Thursday,


When Jurgen Klinsmann started experimenting with his roster following the 2014 World Cup, the US coach did it with the hope of building more depth for the next four-year cycle.

The quality of his reserves is about to get tested in a big way after the United States advanced to the semi-finals of the Copa America for just the second time. The US will be missing three suspended starters: midfielders Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya, and forward Bobby Wood for today's game.

"Our programme is maturing. Our players are maturing. They are learning with every game that we can play in this type of environment," said Klinsmann after Thursday's 2-1 quarter-final win over Ecuador.

"This is what we hoped for after breaking through in Brazil after getting out of the group of death. Hopefully, we can find a couple of youngsters coming and keep the older ones on board and keep them going, push them ... . We've brought a few youngsters along the way the last few years and they've made a huge step forward tonight."

The US will face top-ranked Argentina in the semi-final set for today in Houston.

Argentina waltzed into the semi-final last Saturday as Lionel Messi made his first start of the tournament and tied a national record with his 54th international goal as the Argentines defeated Venezuela 4-1.

Messi's goal in the 60th minute gave Argentina a 3-0 lead and equalled the Argentine record for most international goals set by Gabriel Batistuta, according to Argentina's governing body. The Barcelona star also took over the Copa America scoring lead with his fourth goal of the tournament.

Argentina had just two days to rest before playing the US, who have been off since beating Ecuador last Thursday.

The Americans will be without Jones, who was sent off with a red card early in the second half against Ecuador, and forward Bobby Wood and winger Alejandro Bedoya both picked up their second yellow cards of the tournament,

The US Soccer Federation failed in its bid to get Jones' red and Wood's second yellow overturned.

"It's tough," Bedoya said. "But we knew, going into this game, that some of us were on yellow cards. We all spoke before and if we miss the semis, who cares? The most important thing was getting to the semis and we did that."