May 28, 2016
Zardes scores two, Pulisic adds one; U.S. throttles Bolivia 4-0
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Gyazi Zardes scored a goal in each half and paced the United States to 4-0 victory over Bolivia on Saturday, completing the Americans' preparation for the Copa America Centenario.
|Gyasi Zardes led the way for the US Men with two goals against Bolivia.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Alejandro Bedoya set up Zardes for his goal in the 26th minute and then had a second assist on John Brooks' strike 11 minutes later to give the United States its first victory over Bolivia in seven tries dating back to 1993. It was the first time in three games dating back to a friendly in 1994 that it even scored a goal against the Bolivians.
The win also marked the largest margin of victory over a South American opponent in U.S. history, eclipsing 3-0 wins over Colombia (2005), Paraguay (1930) and Peru (1989) and – with Wednesday's 1-0 victory over Ecuador – was the first time the United States has beaten two South American nations in consecutive matches.
The United States next heads to its Copa America opener on Friday in Santa Clara, Calif., against Colombia after sweeping its three friendly tune-up matches.
The Americans, with a defense that had regular Kansas City center back Matt Besler playing wide left, controlled possession throughout and gave up on a handful of chances. The most dangerous was when a giveaway in midfield resulted in Carmelo Algaranaz counter down the right side that Brad Guzan came off his line to block in the 67th minute.
It took the United States until the 20th minute to generate a shot on goal, a harmless 35-yard drive at Bolivian keeper Guillermo Viscarra from Clint Dempsey.
But six minutes later, a play that started rather benignly quickly turned into a goal. Geoff Cameron, starting alongside John Brooks in the center of defense, played a ball from just inside the U.S. half ahead to Dempsey, who one-touched it wide right to Bedoya.
Bedoya's touch popped it toward the top of the penalty area, where Zardes raced after it and was able to reach before Viscarra, knocking on the short bounce from the 18 under the Bolivian keeper.
The United States doubled the lead in the 37th on a free kick that the Bolivians worked to make sure didn't restart quickly. But Michael Bradley defied the attempt, sending a sharp short ball right to a darting Bedoya, who lunged to redirect into the area.
With Bolivia caught off guard, its defenders followed Bobby Wood into goal, allowing Brooks to trail the play and volley the cross from the edge of the six unmarked.
The Americans started the second half more quickly and increased their lead to 3-0 in the 52nd.
Zardes played the ball back from the right to Bradley, who hit a long cross-field ball to Wood. The German-based striker raced to the byline before sending a low pass back through the goal box, where an unmarked Zardes tapped it in.
Six minutes after replacing Zardes in the 63rd minute, Christian Pulisic became the youngest goal scorer in U.S. history.
With the United States pressing Bolivia in its own end, Jermaine Jones was able to intercept an outlet attempt and knock the ball to Darlington Nagbe, who entered the game with Pulisic.
Nagbe played it forward to Jones, who one-touched it back. Nagbe had Pulisic running parallel with him and he played a short, rolling ball to across the top of the 18, leaving the Hershey, Pa., native with an open lane to send a shot inside the right post.
It made Pulisic, playing in his third game for the United States, the youngest to score for the team at 17 years and 253 days, eclipsing Juan Agudelo, who was 17 years and 359 days old when he scored against South Africa in 2010.
It was a fourth straight loss for Bolivia, which is next-to-last in South American World Cup qualifying and will open the Copa America on June 6 against Panama in Orlando, Fla.