USA 2-1 Ecuador
Instead of bringing in Michael Orozco for the injured DeAndre Yedlin, Juergen Klinsmann decided to move Fabian Johnson from left to right back and play Matt Besler at left back. It worked. Johnson managed to handle Jefferson Montero well while Besler hardly had any issues with Antonio Valencia. The United States kept the ball well and regularly found Bobby Wood making a run in behind the center backs. Both US goals came from one of these runs from Wood who then laid it back for one of the midfielders to cross. Ecuador was unable to find the target for most of the match, forcing Guzan into only one or two saves before a well-worked set play pulled a goal back for Ecuador with fifteen minutes to play. While making only one change from the match against Haiti, the United States did not allow their opponent to build any sort of rhythm in the match. Klinsmann has finally created a team that defends well, but does more than that now, and his plan has twice beaten a team currently ranked 13th in the FIFA World Ranking and is level on points with Uruguay for first in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers. The US also looks to be improving with every performance, and because of this, they never looked worried that DeAndre Yedlin couldn’t play. The bad news for the United States, however, is twofold. The first is that this match featured a slight lack of discipline from both sides. When Antonio Valencia kicked out at Alejandro Bedoya and was clearly earning his second yellow, a mini skirmish took place around the referee in which Jermaine Jones was seen appearing to swing, albeit weakly, at the face of an Ecuadorian player. As a thirty-four year old with over sixty caps, he should know better. From then on, the match was 10 against 10. Not even thirty seconds after play restarted, so quickly in fact that Jermaine Jones was still slowly making his way off the field, Bobby Wood was caught up in the emotion and received a yellow card, his second of the tournament. Late in the second half, Alejandro Bedoya pulled back Juan Paredes and received his second yellow of the tournament. Three of Klinsmann’s regular starters, who have played well this tournament, are unavailable for the semifinal. The other bad news is that the United States will play the winner of the Argentina vs. Venezuela quarterfinal. They will play against Argentina and a certain Lionel Messi. Even with a full squad, the United States would have to be extra impressive. With three suspensions, the United States will have to climb a cliff face with no rope.
Peru (2)0-0(4) Colombia
Peru tried the same formula that got them through the group stage, defend well and hit on the break. They did the first part well by keeping a clean sheet and had one golden opportunity to score that David Ospina saved well to keep the score at 0-0. The rest of the team, while they controlled the game, couldn’t seem to find a way through Peru’s defense, with James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado in particular unable to have their usual influence on the match. Ospina was the hero, saving one penalty in the shootout before Christian Cueva sent his over, but Colombia will worry that Peru was able to force penalties, especially with Chile up next.
Argentina 4-1 Venezuela
Lionel Messi’s first start in the tournament could not have gone any better for him. A goal and two assists helped Argentina brush off Venezuela with minimal effort and fuss. He dazzled the crowd with an inch perfect ball for Higuain’s first and then a cheeky nutmeg on the keeper for his goal. For 80 minutes, Argentina were clearly the better team and fully deserved to advance. The ten minutes that they weren’t the better team came after Venezuela gifted Higuain his second goal at the end of the first half, and they won a penalty from it. Luis Manuel Seijas had a chance to bring the match to 2-1 and build on the momentum Venezuela had…and he went for a panenka. Sergio Romero caught it in his stomach and any momentum Venezuela had was lost. Argentina never looked back.
Mexico 0-7 Chile
Mexico played poorly. From Memo Ochoa to Chicharito Hernandez, no one looked ready to play. If you have a bad game against the number 5 team in the world, you’re going to get beat. When that number 5 team plays out of their minds, you’re going to be routed. Chile was that good; so good that Mexico gave up. Eduardo Vargas scored four goals, Edson Puch grabbed two, and Alexis Sanchez added one of his own. Mexico was embarrassed and finished the match unprofessionally. By the end of the match, instead of cursing at Claudio Bravo’s goal kicks, Mexico fans were cursing at Ochoa’s. They were disappointed in their national team, and the should have been after they clearly stopped trying. Manager Juan Carlos Osorio went from smooth sailing to a scalding hot seat. He may not be Mexico’s manager for much longer. As for Chile, this is the team everyone expected to see. They won last year’s Copa América for a reason. They’re finding form at just the right time, but they also have to battle Colombia without Bayern Munich star Arturo Vidal through suspension.
USA vs. Argentina
Colombia vs. Chile