USMNT embraces challenge from Paraguay

USMNT embraces challenge from Paraguay

With the Copa America quarterfinals looming, the U.S. men’s national team finds itself in an enviable position. That could all change, though, if Paraguay comes out swinging in tonight’s Group A opener.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s crew tries to secure that coveted spot in the knockout stage in a few hours. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the USMNT odds of -105 to prevail. Paraguay, on the other hand, enters as a +275 underdog. The over/under goal total holds steady at 2.5.

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One needn’t possess a math degree to grasp the concept here: America advances with a victory. A draw would alter the picture, but not in a significant way. Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and the rest of the gang therefore know exactly what is required when the action kicks off at Lincoln Financial Field.

Of course, La Albirroja won’t surrender without a considerable fight. Midfielder Victor Ayala must be held in check after he ran wild in the second half of Paraguay’s 2-1 loss to Colombia on Tuesday. Celso Ortiz and Derlis Gonzalez also represent X-factors if the match assumes a more free-flowing style.

Bottom line: Klinsmann’s troops aren’t likely to enjoy another 4-0 cakewalk, as was the case against Costa Rica. In fact, Paraguay may genuinely push an older U.S. roster that occasionally relies on a pair of thirtysomethings, Dempsey and Jermaine Jones, to excess. Bank on the Stars and Stripes to move forward, albeit with a less-than-scintillating tie.

SATURDAY COPA AMERICA FREE PICK: DRAW +260

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