Written by Will Parchman

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DeAndre Yedlin had a fine Copa America. He wasn’t particularly great, but it was clear Sunderland was good to him in a positional defensive sense in the 2015-16 season, and his one real moment of madness involved a couple yellow cards and a sending off against Paraguay.

In the interim, he proved himself as a pretty good fullback who’s still somewhat naive defensively. But don’t forget those afterburners. He still has those.

The U.S. didn’t register a single shot in the 4-0 Copa America semifinal loss to Argentina, but Yedlin did do this thing. He chased down Messi in a flat foot race and broke up a breakaway. ‘Merica. In the absence of technical ability, we can run fast and jump high. This is what we do.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The Greeks had Oedipus and Andromache and Antigone and the English had Juliet and Othello and Macbeth and modern America has its Willy Loman. And Loman’s sad neuroses climbed onto the postmatch dais on Tuesday night and flailed about in plain view.

In the first act of Arthur Miller’s twisting American ride through modernity called Death of a Salesman, Loman, our interlocutor, attempts and fails to reconcile the soaring, perfect America he thinks he knows with the broken, imperfect America outside his door. Everything is fine because he can make it fine, because there is opportunity pouring from every open door and even the cracked ones. And if it isn’t fine, then there is always someone outside his bubble to blame.

This exchange between Loman, a failed salesman, and his wife is crushing in its completeness. You can see Loman’s failure arriving and he is either too delusional to accept it or too sad to face it.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Scouting is a funny thing. John Brooks has been an imperious defender for nigh on a full season now, and his form for Hertha Berlin this last season played no small part in the team’s ironclad back line that led it into the Europa League for 2016-17.

But it took a larger stage than that to catch the attention of some of the world’s big spenders. And it would seem Brooks has their ear now.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Adaptability is only a net positive if it’s a user response to a setback. Something works, and then it breaks, and then it’s fixed. In this way, Star Wars was saved from itself by J.J. Abrams’ insistence on ignoring the existence of the prequels entirely.

Otherwise you are not adapting to stimuli. You are tinkering in response to ghosts, or the rumor of ghosts. And Jurgen Klinsmann has done an awful lot of tinkering in a USMNT polo. To the point, even, that the teams he picked bore so little resemblance to one another that some overarching “style” or “continuity” or “sense” often abandoned him. We were left with a lot of pegs and not many holes and most of them have been empty for a very long time.

His Copa America, in an individual tactical sense, has been a marked departure from the Tinkerman we knew before then. After the tune-up matches, Klinsmann played the same exact XI for three consecutive matches. This is what his perfect night out has looked like.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Flanked by his two press officers, Jurgen Klinsmann’s lithe frame strode into his postgame press conference Thursday night, his face fixed in the stony mask of the determined. He’d just proved a point, or so it seemed, and his body language was all right angles and sharp corners. There was no soft acceptance with this win.

He’d just done something. And he knew it. With Sunil Gulati standing to the side, his typical politician’s expression revealing little about his countenance, Klinsmann was defiant as always.

It is easy to forget Klinsmann was once the happy-go-lucky coaching ingenue who was almost bubbly as he bounced into interviews. He is a different man today, hardened by a stony season of difficulties after the World Cup and finally dogged by the pressure attendant with a Big Position. Gulati is on his back publicly now, which is a different thing. Tension revisited.

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Written by Will Parchman

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There has always been a measure of carefully attuned bluster to Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team approach on a personnel level. As though he was conducting a symphony no one but himself could hear.

He has deployed Michael Bradley in advanced roles because reasons, and he has used Alejandro Bedoya as a defensive midfielder because other reasons, and he has played Jermaine Jones as a center back because reasons you could not fathom, peasant.

Klinsmann isn’t a tinkerer in the sense that all national team coaches are tinkerers. Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena hardly rotated their starting lineups less, which is a product of national team call-ins and matchup scenarios and everything else. National team coaches move in players like moveable parts in an attuned assembly line, the gears clacking into place one after the other.

That was never Klinsmann’s issue, more or less. Everyone tries new pieces to a degree. The problem was re-configuring the entire assembly line between call-ins. So when the old gears rotated back into use, the machine was producing different products and the gear teeth didn’t align. Nothing really ran, except in fitful, rasping gasps.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The timing was curious. It was difficult not to see into their guts and glimpse something corrupted and maybe even terminal.

Mere hours before a suddenly do-or-die USMNT matchup against Costa Rica, Sunil Gulati spoke at length about Jurgen Klinsmann in a way he had not really done before. Gulati, the master political controlling U.S. Soccer from a nearly unassailable perch, finally called Klinsmann to some sort of jagged mat.

Among other things, he refused to affirm Klinsmann’s job status. He was critical of the results these last 16 months. He said that “no one” has ironclad job security. He trumpeted, again, results absent of style or general performance or optics, which I think is an issue for another day.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Hours before Argentina’s 2015 Copa America final rematch against Chile kicked off their Centenario tournament, Angel Di Maria was delivered a gut punch. He learned his maternal grandmother had passed.

Di Maria largely kept it to himself, bottling emotion and playing because “if I don’t play, my grandmother was going to get mad.” Argentina coach Tata Martino didn’t even know it until after the game. With the news churning his emotions into gruel, Di Maria put in a Man of the Match performance.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The Estadio Nacional was a tempest of motion and heat and joy. Inside the old lady throwing her broad sweeping arms around a field ringed by a track, the 2015 Copa America was rising from the launch pad in Chile.

Ecuador was giving the hosts chase in the traditional first match, but Chile slammed the door shut in the second half. An Arturo Vidal penalty in the 66th minute preceded a dagger from Eduardo Vargas and the home crowd was floating somewhere over the Andes. Nobody seemed to care that it wasn’t a sellout.

Estadio Nacional holds north of 48,000 fans, but the announced attendance of the biggest international soccer event in Chile in some time was somewhere around 2,000 shy of a sellout. There were empty seats, however few of them there were. The game was enjoyable, Chileans saw a win and what did it matter in the end?

There has been a righteous outcry around soaring Copa America ticket prices, and you can’t blame it. The idea you’d pay $75 for cheap seats to Peru-Haiti seems anathema to the idea of soccer in the first place. Anything approaching a decent seat will run you in the several hundreds of dollars, especially if – gasp – you wanted your children to see a few top South American soccer players up close.

Here’s Sunil Gulati to SI’s Brian Straus.

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Written by Will Parchman

copa

The Copa America Centenario kicks off on Friday. Jurgen Klinsmann says the U.S. can make the semifinals.

Do you believe him?

Optimism and pessimism are co-mingling in this cycle like few I can remember, if I can even remember any. On one hand, the U.S. is coming off a tragically poor 2015 in which it badly underachieved in the Gold Cup, the team’s biggest competition of the year. The U.S. lost to Jamaica in the semifinals, then Panama in the third place game and was out-shot by a margin of nearly two-to-one over the course of the event.

And yet. There is hope.

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