USA vs. Argentina
The United States once again have their backs against the wall. They face an Argentina team that has won all four of its games comfortably, has only conceded twice during the tournament, can bring the second leading goalscorer in the Premier League (Sergio Aguero) off the bench, and have the man who bumped him out of the starting XI (Gonzalo Higuain), and not even be one of their two best players. The United States has to face a team of that quality while three of their normal starters are suspended. That’s who the United States wants to play against though; they want to be one of the top teams in the world, and how better to do that than to play against FIFA’s top ranked team and the world’s best player? Suspensions to Jermaine Jones, Bobby Wood, and Alejandro Bedoya do pose some questions for Klinsmann to answer since he will have to come up with an answer for Argentina. For all the talk of being progressive and taking the game to their opponents from Klinsmann, the United States does not have the skill to outplay Argentina, so they need to be pragmatic. Matt Besler played well enough against Ecuador to retain his spot in the lineup for the semifinal, pushing Fabian Johnson forward. Expect Klinsmann to set up the team in two banks of four with one of the forwards helping out to try to make the field smaller for Argentina, then take off on the counter. Kyle Beckerman is the midfield replacement for Jermaine Jones best suited to defending for long stretches at a time, which is what the United States needs against Argentina. For Argentina, they will attempt to do what they have done for the past four games: win. Winger Nicolas Gaitan is unavailable for the match because of suspension, but Argentina have no shortage of attacking options and won’t worry at all about replacing him. They will continue to play their game and are heavily favored, especially when Lionel Messi hasn’t even played two full games yet. His fresh legs could be the difference.
USA: Guzan; Besler, Brooks, Cameron, Yedlin; Johnson, Bradley, Beckerman, Nagbe; Dempsey, Zardes
Argentina: Romero; Rojo, Otamendi, Funes Mori, Mercado; Banega, Mascherano, Fernandez; Lamela, Higuain, Messi
Pick to Win: Argentina
Colombia vs. Chile
This matchup features a team whose form seems to be falling against a team whose form is hitting a peak. Colombia and Chile played two very different quarterfinals to advance. Colombia had a close call against Peru, ultimately prevailing in penalties, while Chile could have been alone on the field at Levi’s Stadium and no one would have noticed a difference. Colombia struggled to create chances at times against Peru but will likely match up better with Chile. Colombia is not a team built around possession play. They’re better suited to defend well and then use the skill of their two wide players, James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado, to run at defenders and cause problems. Chile will be happy to keep the ball and will feel confident in their ability to score. Eduardo Vargas and Alexis Sanchez have nine goals between them in the past two matches and their form suggests that the won’t be stopping any time soon. Arturo Vidal, however, is unavailable for Chile and will have to rely on his teammates to win this match so he can help them defend their title in the final. This will likely be an entertaining, end to end semifinal and both goalkeepers could be busy. Expect Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina, who has already made big saves this tournament, to be kept busy. The match will likely be decided by how well he plays.
Colombia: Ospina; Diaz, Zapata, Murillo, Arias; Torres, Perez; Rodriguez, Cardona, Cuadrado, Bacca
Chile: Bravo; Beausejour, Jara, Medel, Fuenzalida; Diaz, Silva, Aranguiz; Vargas, Sanchez, Puch
Pick to Win: Chile