Let's go over what the United States needs to do to go through tonight against Paraguay: Win, and the USMNT will advance to the quarterfinal round of the Copa America Centenario. In fact, with a win in Philadelphia tonight paired with a loss by Colombia later (highly unlikely but still possible), the US could even win the group. A draw will probably work for the Americans as well, as even if Costa Rica were to beat Colombia, there's a 6 goal gap the Ticos would have to make up (both sides would have 4 points, and the first tiebreaker is goal difference).
The least complicated scenario is also the worst one from a US perspective: Lose, and this tournament is over. Paraguay would jump ahead of the US in that scenario, which makes this a kinda-sorta knockout game as it is. Paraguay is supposed to be the weakest team in this group, but their emphasis on defensive solidity has kept them in their previous two outings. In all likelihood, we're not going to see the reckless tactical choices that ended up spelling doom for Costa Rica a few days ago.
While Paraguay has struggled to create chances outside of set pieces, their aim - to frustrate the US and then pounce on turnovers - makes them a potentially dangerous opponent. They're an organized group that buys into a gameplan that has been in place for years, which is something you can't always say for the USMNT. If the US can't simply kick the door in and win the game with early goals, this will be a significant test for the Americans in terms of patience.
United States starting 11:
Colombia Paraguay starting 11:
Match previews: Our preview notes that both teams are (more or less) looking at a "win and you're in" situation. Over at Stars and Stripes FC, the focus is on preventing Paraguay from completing passes in the attacking third while also hoping for a lineup that puts more US players where they're comfortable (don't hold your breath on that last one though).
What are you drinking?: It is hot as hell out today, so it's time for a classic. Gin rickey made with Tanqueray for me, and probably more than one.
Prediction: We talked about how Paraguay, for the trouble they gave Colombia, largely struggled to create chances from open play. Their gameplan is based around solidity, not creativity in the final third. I think that Paraguay will sit deep, and that the US will push forward trying to break them down. Unfortunately, that positive mindset might not amount to much, and I expect the first half to mostly end in frustration as American attacks run out of gas near the Paraguayan penalty area.
After halftime, though, the US will grab themselves a set piece goal via John Brooks, and Paraguay will have to open up to stay alive. The USMNT will dodge a bullet before grabbing a crucial second goal (let's go with Bobby Wood on that one). Paraguay will respond with a goal via an inattentive US defense, but from there the Americans will get dialed in. 2-1 USMNT, and a spot in the knockout round. Against Brazil. But hey, a spot in the knockout round!
This is your place for pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.