It was a good close to the week for Aston Villa players putting on for their countries during the Copa América Centenario, as both Brad Guzan’s United States and Carlos Sánchez’s Colombia advanced to the semifinals.
In Thursday’s quarterfinal between the States and Ecuador, Guzan once again got the nod in goal and once again had a pretty good performance. With the Americans 1-0 up headed into halftime, the Villa shot-stopper was called into action — for his second of three saves on the day — and while he was beaten in the second half, the United States held on for the 2-1 victory.
Guzan’s played really well the last two times out — he’s now made 16 saves over four matches, while only conceding thrice, in the tournament — and it’s something we didn’t see the last 18 months or so at Villa Park. If Villa’s season started next week, I’d say I might just be fine sticking with the Americans as our No. 1… but it doesn’t, so there’s plenty of time for him to lose form if he’ll be back for the Claret and Blues next year.
On Friday, Carlos Sánchez got a second straight start as Colombia advanced to the quarterfinals by way of penalties after a 0-0 result against Peru. The midfielder played all 90 minutes of a pretty bore draw — remember, Copa quarterfinal and semifinal matches go straight to penalties after 90 — which, I suppose, says Sánchez performed well as a defensive midfielder.
The Americans will be back in action Tuesday night, when they face either Argentina or Venezuela for a spot in the final, while Sánchez and the Colombians will play Wednesday, seeing either Chile or Mexico in their semifinal. Could we see Guzan and Sánchez face off once more this tournament in a final or third-place match? We’ll know within the next handful of days.
In Euro 2016 news, Ciaran Clark and the Republic of Ireland are back in action today, facing Belgium at 2 p.m. BST (9 a.m. EDT) in Bordeaux. Last time out, Clark handled Zlatan Ibrahimović pretty well, except for the whole "scoring an own goal" thing, which is admittedly not good. We’ll see what the Boys in Green have in store for one of the tournament favourites — in need of a win, too — down in southwestern France.