ORLANDO, Fla. – The United States men's national team got its first positive result in the Copa America Centenario on Saturday: a scoreless draw between two upcoming Group A opponents.
Costa Rica and Paraguay played to a listless tie under the searing sun here at the Citrus Bowl in a game that featured far more diving than run-of-play creativity. Fans of the American side who were troubled by Colombia's 2-0 dismantling of Jurgen Klinsmann's men on Friday might sleep a bit easier knowing the next U.S. match is Tuesday in Chicago against a Ticos team that showed relatively nothing in its opener.
"Tough at the beginning. It was a little bit too warm," Costa Rica midfielder Celso Borges said. "There was a lot of heat. Overall, we did OK."
The close calls on Saturday mostly came from Paraguay, as Jorge Benitez whiffed on a chance in the 14th minute and his teammates misfired on an ensuing corner kick. Then, in the 28th minute, a Dario Lezcano shot found the back of the net, only to be whistled offside.
The best opportunity of the second half came off the foot of Costa Rica's Christian Bolanos, who blasted a rocket from 25 yards out. Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar swatted the shot aside without much trouble.
Fans and onlookers were left to wonder why both teams played with so little urgency, considering the ledger ahead includes the Americans and Group A favorite Colombia. This match was forgettable almost from the opening kick.
That's not the Americans' problem, though. Nor will they complain about the red card issued in stoppage time to Costa Rica's Kendall Waston, who was sent off after a vicious and ill-advised midfield tackle.
"We need to keep our own style. Today was a difficult game," Watson said. "The first game is going to be difficult. Nobody is going to give us nothing."
“I thought it was a simple tackle," Watson said of his red card. "The ref thought it was a red. I think it was a yellow."
Saturday's match should have gone far better for both teams, but it couldn't have gone better for the U.S.
“They showed very good things against Colombia. A bit unlucky," Borges said of the Americans. "The early goal, I think, killed their mood a little. I don’t think we can be deceived by that."