Two teams in very different places in their development cycles meet when the United States host Peru in the Pratt and Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut on Tuesday (7:30PM ET, live on ESPN2 / UniMas / UDN).
Team USA are in the midst of a regeneration process following their surprise failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Peru have a clearly defined group of players and a style of play that led them to the World Cup and will continue into the next four-year period.
The difference was made clear by the manner in which the two teams performed in their respective first matches of this international break. USMNT briefly led but consistently struggled to contain a vibrant Colombia side in an eventual 2-4 defeat in Tampa, while Peru produced a convincing 3-0 victory over Chile in Miami.
The U.S. have decided to go all-in with younger talent since the unsuccessful end to their qualification campaign, but the lasting benefit of doing so without having a new head coach in place to direct their apprenticeship is questionable. Interim coach Dave Sarachan is doing a decent job, but it is difficult to achieve collective development without clear goals.
In the absence of that, it is only really possible to assess individual performances. Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie have been two standouts but both are out injured and their energy was certainly missed against Colombia. Timothy Weah produced a nicely weighted pass to set up Bobby Wood’s goal in that match and has otherwise looked lively. Julian Green again showed flashes of ability despite receiving limited service from midfield.
There are certainly some building blocks there for the next four year cycle leading up to what will surely be a return to the World Cup at Qatar 2022, but it is hard to assess the overall level of the next generation of talent. There have been some good results, including a 1-1 draw with France and last month’s 1-0 win over arch rivals Mexico. There have also been some unconvincing performances and individual errors, which is what you would expect from such an inexperienced group.
Peru are in an entirely different place. Even though they fell to a group-stage exit in Russia, they impressed with their style of play and can count on stability in coaching and playing staff as they seek to qualify for a second consecutive World Cup for the first time since 1982. This four-year period will be about refining their approach and gradually bringing through younger talents as some of the oldest members of the squad are phased out.
Ricardo Gareca remains in charge after leading Peru to their first World Cup in over a quarter-century, and his side have showed well in subsequent friendlies. Narrow defeats after going ahead against both Germany and the Netherlands last month were followed by the aforementioned comfortable victory over Chile on Friday.
Midfielder Pedro Aquino scored twice in that match to add to his goal against Germany. He only started one of Peru’s three matches during the World Cup but is making a strong case for greater involvement going forward. Indeed, Gareca highlighted Aquino as an example of the strong competition for places that exists within his group.
Five of the Peru squad for this fixture ply their trade in MLS and will therefore be recognizable to US fans, but it is not a group made up of worldwide stars. Peru play attractive, collective football whose sum is greater than its individual parts.
That is obviously the aim for the USMNT going forward but is not something that has been achieved in recent friendlies, where performances have generally been quite disjointed. That is largely as a result of Sarachan calling up a variety of players with the presumed aim of getting a close look at as many of the country’s young talents as possible.
Our Preview’s United States vs. Peru Predictions & Picks Verdict
Peru have a strong understanding of what their coach requires and also of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They are a well-oiled side and that should be enough to see them to victory on Tuesday.
These are the best odds available, having scoured a selection of the top betting sites that welcome Americans, for our USA vs Peru betting prediction and pick:
- Bet on Peru to win @ +185 with Bovada Sportsbook.