In the aftermath of the United States' expected loss to Colombia 2-0 in the opening game of the 2016 Copa America Centenario, we wanted to see if there was any hope for D.C. United fans to see center back Steve Birnbaum in one or both of the next two matches against Costa Rica and Paraguay.
First and foremost, the American center backs against los Cafeteros Friday night were a bit of a mixed bag. Geoff Cameron started well, but his inability to stick with Christian Zapata on the first goal was a problem. However, John Brooks' work next to him was a little better, albeit some that could have gotten him in trouble on a second half tackle from behind.
The question then becomes whether or not Birnbaum can join the red, white and blue for his highest profile cap to date. There's no real shame in losing 2-0 to Colombia, the #3 ranked team in the world according to FIFA. With another game against Costa Rica coming up on Tuesday, there is at least some chance that the quick turnaround results in some kind of rotation. There might be a desire to change horses mid-race and put Birnbaum in for Cameron, though pairing him with Brooks would leave the US facing what feels like a must-win with an inexperienced duo. He could also step in for Brooks, though Klinsmann has long categorized center backs as being only to play right-center back or left-center back.
The flip side of this is that it is a Costa Rica team who recently started Birnbaum's club teammate Alvaro Saborio as part of a 4-5-1 against Venezuela. Klinsmann may decide to hold Birnbaum back and start say, Darlington Nagbe in lieu of the 34 year old Jermaine Jones in an attempt to keep his overall team's experience high. However, if you're looking to keep goals out of the net, you'd be hard pressed to make use of a guy who's part of one of MLS's stingiest defenses.