Recap: USMNT 4–0 Bolivia

The US finished tuning up for the Copa America in style, swatting away Bolivia comprehensively, 4–0 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City. Alejandro Bedoya assisted the first two, Gyasi Zardes scored a brace, and Christian Pulisic became the US’s youngest scorer of the modern era with the fourth and final goal.

First half

The US lined up with a decent-looking team (though sans Darlington Nagbe) . . . from the waist up. In the back line, there were four center backs: Matt Besler, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, and Michael Orozco. Why? Why? At least Michael Bradley played the No. 6.

The functional nature of the fullbacks didn’t seem to hurt the US in the early going, with the North Americans maintaining a comfortable majority of possession and holding Bolivia at arm’s length, but the US attack lacked a little zip. The first shot on target didn’t come until the 20th minute. But in the 26th, the US finally put together a good move, and a goal was the result. Orozco sent a straight ball up to Clint Dempsey, who played the ball wide to Alejandro Bedoya with one touch. Bedoya flicked the ball over the top first-time to Gyasi Zardes making a central run from out to in to get behind the defense, and his first-time finish around the onrushing keeper just outside the box was deft.

Ten minutes later, the US doubled up. On a US free kick 25 yards out, Bradley managed to surprise the Bolivian defense with a through ball on the ground to a streaking Bedoya. The ball nearly got away from him, but Bedoya managed to center the ball with a lunge, and Brooks was on hand to pass the ball into the net from 12 yards.

Bolivia had a great chance to get one back in the 45th. Besler was caught upfield and Bolivia broke, eventually sending a cross through the six-yard box that no one touched. A Bolivian player was there to gather the ball at the back post, but he blazed over when he should have at least worked Brad Guzan in the US goal.

Second half

The non-fullbacks were replaced with the presumptive fullbacks for the Copa, Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin, at the start of the second half. The US didn’t wait long to further assert their dominance. In the 52nd, Bradley sent a ball deep over the top. Wood corralled it and managed to pull it back across the six, where Zardes poked it home for his second on the night.

In the 63rd, Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic replaced Bedoya and Zardes, respectively, and it didn’t take long for the two of them to combine for the fourth goal, in the 69th. A tackle by Jermaine Jones high up the field forced a turnover, and Nagbe drove toward the box, exchanging a one-two with Jones before laying the ball off for Pulisic to finish calmly at the near post. Pulisic became the youngest US goalscorer of the modern era with his first international tally, making the shot with his off foot look easy.

In the 73rd, there was the rare sight of Bradley being substituted as Graham Zusi and Chris Wondolowski subbed in for him and Clint Dempsey. Jones dropped into the deepest-lying midfield role. Wondo nearly added a fifth in stoppage time after nice interplay between Wood, Pulisic, and Zusi gave him a free shot just outside the six, but the keeper got in the way, as keepers are wont to do, and the US had to settle for their largest-ever margin of victory over a South American team, just 4–0.

US verdict

Bedoya delivers: The Nantes man is not everyone’s cup of tea, his playing style not exactly elegant, but he gets things done. Two assists in the first half sent the US on its way.

Zardes makes a mark: Zardes didn’t set the world alight versus Ecuador, but his movement and finishing against Bolivia were a statement that he deserves to play. Pulisic may by the hot thing right now, but Zardes is in form, too, and has much more experience at this level, even if his own international career is still young.

Pulisic!: That said, damn if CP! ain’t something. Playing on the right as an inverted winger, he continues to impress with his absolute lack of fear and apparent calm in high-leverage situations. His goal looked simple, but he scored at the keeper’s near post with his weaker foot. The kid’s got moxie.

Klinsmann, the Tinkerman: Of course, that monicker used to belong to Claudio Ranieri, whose Leicester City just won the British Premier League, and who gives us hope that old dogs can learn new tricks. Because what purpose was served by playing two center backs out of position for the first half? Do they need minutes so badly? In the end, it did not affect the outcome at all, but it’s maddening nonetheless.

Final thoughts

The US couldn’t have asked for a better finish to their Copa America preparation. In truth, all three games have been useful. The level of opposition hasn’t been the highest, but the US has looked composed, and it’s bench electric going forward. Let’s hope they carry this momentum into the upcoming matchup with Colombia.

1-Brad Guzan, 14-Michael Orozco (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 46), 20-Geoff Cameron, 6-John Brooks, 5-Matt Besler (23-Fabian Johnson, 46), 11-Alejandro Bedoya (10-Darlington Nagbe, 63), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.) (19-Graham Zusi, 73), 13-Jermaine Jones, 9-Gyasi Zardes (17-Christian Pulisic, 63), 8-Clint Dempsey (18-Chris Wondolowski, 72), 7-Bobby Wood
Subs not used: 12-Tim Howard, 22-William Yarbrough, 3-Steve Birnbaum, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 16-Perry Kitchen
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

23-Guillermo Viscarra, 4-Diego Bejarano, 21-Ronald Eguino, 5-Nelson Cabrera, 3-Luis Gutiérrez (17-Marvin Bejarano, 68), 13-Alejandro Meleán (18-Rodrigo Ramallo, 54), 8-Martín Smedberg-Dalence (22-Edward Zenteno, 74), 20-Fernando Saucedo (15-Pedro Azogue, 46), 10-Jhasmani Campos (11-Bruno Miranda, 46), 9-Yasmani Duk (capt.); 19-Carmelo Algarañaz (14-Raúl Castro, 46)
Subs not used: 1-Carlos Lampe, 12-Rómel Quiñónez, 2-Mario Saavedra, 6-Wálter Veizaga, 7-Juan Carlos Arce, 16-Cristhian Machado
Head Coach: Julio César Baldivieso

Scoring Summary
USA — Gyasi Zardes (Alejandro Bedoya) — 26th minute
USA — John Brooks (Alejandro Bedoya) — 37
USA — Gyasi Zardes (Bobby Wood) — 52
USA — Christian Pulisic (Darlington Nagbe) — 69

Disciplinary Summary
BOL – Jhasmani Campos (caution) — 30th minute
BOL – Yasmani Duk (caution) — 76

Stats Summary (USA / BOL)
Shots: 9 / 6
Shots on Goal: 7 / 3
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 2
Fouls: 12 / 18
Offside: 2 / 4

Referee: Elmer Bonilla (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Jose Mangandi (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Leonardo Sanchez (CUB)
4th Official: Marlon Mejia (SLV)

Attendance: 8,894


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    I can’t argue about Zardes after scoring tonight, though I’d like to try… I think his skill set is detrimental to the outside wing play. He is a moving turnover on the ball and has really poor touch, that said, maybe as Stuart Holden- I believe said, his best position is as a 9 where he can just make runs and finish, which tends to be a strength in his game.
    John Brooks has grown on my a lot… granted the game was a pretty smooth ride, but his movement, agility and grace, reading of the game, technical skill and passing is quite good and he is an absolute enormous specimen.

  2. I think it is okay to lighten up a bit regarding concern with overvaluing Christian Pulisic…. it is inevitable the media is going to hyperbolize and those in charge of his well being are sure to make sure it doesn’t become to burdensome- as media access to him is very controlled by JK and TT.
    … watching the highlight of his gol again just now, I love how he just bounces off the #5 CB of Bolivia and uses that players kinetic energy to bound in his own direction for Darlington Nagbe.
    Since this young kid was five years old— this is what Christian Pulisic has been doing— receiving light and bounding in his own direction. He is an electron jumping clouds… a quantum player. Maybe transcendent.
    Just. Enjoy.
    If you want to focus on something… focus on his manager, that Tomas Tuechel stays at BVB for the next really really important three or so years of his development.

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