One of the biggest talking points for United States supporters during this summer’s Copa America Centenario run has been the lack of playing time for two of the team’s most exciting attacking players.
Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic have talent. There’s no denying that. There have been calls from fans and pundits alike for one or both of them to be inserted into the starting lineup throughout this tournament.
USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann explained on Friday why he’s only used them both in late reserve roles in two of the five matches played so far.
"For both it's about a learning curve," he said. "Darlington is a bit older than Christian, but I think they can see, even if they just come in for a couple of minutes -- both in the first game and the last game -- that this is another level that we are talking about here.
"When you bring players on from the beginning, you need to make sure they have the confidence to deal with that situation. I think right now for both players, coming off bench, and getting their experience and start the growth process is the right thing to do." - Jurgen Klinsmann; Source: ESPNFC
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a logical argument against his reasoning for Pulisic. As much as we all want to see him get a chance to show his talent, holding him back is the wise thing to do for such a young player.
However, in Nagbe’s case, it just seems like an excuse not use him. When you see Nagbe play there’s just no possible way that players like Graham Zusi or Gyasi Zardes have some keen sense of how to play at the international level that Nagbe can’t adjust to.
Nagbe has built his reputation on being able to work in tight spaces and keep possession of the ball. Something the U.S. struggled mightily with against Argentina. Klinsmann seems to really be overthinking his reasoning for including inferior players over someone who could undoubtedly help improve in areas that the team is currently deficient in.
Of course this is just my humble opinion. I’m very partial to Nagbe as a player and think he can help this team tremendously.