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John Brooks settling in as U.S. starter in Copa America

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The German-born defender will likely start for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side against Costa Rica as he returns to Chicago for the first time in almost two decades.

CHICAGO — Though not quite a homecoming, John Brooks’ first visit to Chicago in nearly two decades is significant. His tattoo of the state of Illinois on his right elbow offers some evidence as to why.

The German-American defender came to the Windy City as a toddler, visiting the family of his American serviceman father, who is from here. Almost two decades later, Brooks is back as a member of the U.S. national team, preparing to play in the biggest game of his budding international career.

The U.S. faces Costa Rica on Tuesday in a virtual must-win Copa America match, and if the Americans are going to secure the three points needed to keep their hopes of advancing to the knockout round alive, they will need another strong showing from Brooks.

The 22-year-old defender held his own against Colombia on Friday, one of the few clear bright spots on an otherwise lackluster performance by the U.S. Having overtaken Matt Besler for the starting left center back spot, Brooks has looked very sharp for the U.S. in recent appearances and is finally playing at the same level for the national team as he has played for Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.

“I think I finally found my spot a little here on this team,” Brooks said when asked if he finally feels settled in with the U.S. “From the beginning, the team was nice, but when you come every time from Europe it’s a little bit different here. Now I think I’m finally here and it’s good for me now.”

Brooks looked very confident against Colombia, both defensively and in possession. His distribution was excellent and he avoided the kind of defensive mistakes that had plagued past national team appearances, most memorably at last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. As much as he had his struggles at the Gold Cup, he believes the tournament helped him become better.

The U.S. faces Costa Rica on Tuesday in a virtual must-win Copa America match, and if the Americans are going to secure the three points needed to keep their hopes of advancing to the knockout round alive, they will need another strong showing from Brooks.

The 22-year-old defender held his own against Colombia on Friday, one of the few clear bright spots on an otherwise lackluster performance by the U.S. Having overtaken Matt Besler for the starting left center back spot, Brooks has looked very sharp for the U.S. in recent appearances and is finally playing at the same level for the national team as he has played for Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.

“I think I finally found my spot a little here on this team,” Brooks said when asked if he finally feels settled in with the U.S. “From the beginning, the team was nice, but when you come every time from Europe it’s a little bit different here. Now I think I’m finally here and it’s good for me now.”

Brooks looked very confident against Colombia, both defensively and in possession. His distribution was excellent and he avoided the kind of defensive mistakes that had plagued past national team appearances, most memorably at last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. As much as he had his struggles at the Gold Cup, he believes the tournament helped him become better. “Every game I learn a lot, especially the Gold Cup,” Brooks said. “It was a good experience too. It was not always the best conditions but we tried our best and at the end we were not as lucky as we wanted to be, but for me it was still a good experience.

“Of course (I learned) a lot,” he said of his Gold Cup experience. “You really can’t compare (it to Copa America), but it was still good preparation for this Copa America so I know what to expect, so it’s good for me now.”

Brooks and Geoff Cameron have formed a steady partnership and have played two strong games together. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is likely to call on the pair against a Costa Rica side with some dangerous attackers in Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz.

“I can play well with Geoff Cameron,” Brooks said. “I think you saw the defense was pretty good and we’ll keep going.”

Brooks acknowledged how special it was to be back here, and he expects several family members to be in attendance at Soldier Field to watch him play. If Brooks can put together another good showing Tuesday, he will take another step toward establishing himself as Klinsmann’s long-term central defender option, something he has seemed destined to be since making his national team debut in 2012.

Brooks didn’t watch Costa Rica’s goal-less draw with Paraguay, but he still believes he and the U.S. are in a tough test Tuesday, one he believes the U.S. can pass.

“Everybody knows Costa Rica, we know Costa Rica as well,” he said. “Of course it’s a tough game, but we’re getting prepared for it.”  -Via Goal

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Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas to miss Costa Rica’s Copa America campaign

Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas to miss Costa Rica’s Copa America campaign

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas will miss the Copa America Centenario this summer due to an Achilles tendon problem.

Navas has been suffering with Achilles problems for some time and missed last year’s Gold Cup, and his club, Real Madrid, had announced earlier this month that the 29-year-old would face a spell on the sidelines with the issue.

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Although he played in both the final La Liga game of the season against Deportivo La Coruna on May 14 and Saturday’s Champions League final success over Atletico Madrid, Real have now said that Navas is suffering withAchilles tendinopathy.

As a result, he will miss this summer’s tournament in the United States, which takes place from June 3-26, and will be replaced by Deportivo Saprissa’s Danny Carvajal.

The Costa Rican Football Federation (Fedefutbol) announced on its official website: “The Achilles tendon has again caused a problem for the national team goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who will miss the Copa America Centenario, which starts for Costa Rica this Saturday.

“The Costa Rica FA (Fedefutbol) will organise for the goalkeeper Danny Carvajal to replace Navas.

“This Monday the medical department at Real Madrid communicated to the medical department at Fedefutbol that they had done a scan on the national goalkeeper’s left heel.

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“In the statement it said that the keeper had chronic Achilles tendonitis, so it was recommended that he stop completely in order to get a definitive treatment.

“Our department has asked for images of the scan, and received them some hours later, when they were looked at by our doctors, along with radiologist Randall Bujan and orthopaedic specialist Vladimir Badilla, who agreed that it needed treatment at this time.

“The doctors considered that if it was not managed quickly, the player could suffer a further problem in his Achilles tendon.

“Navas has been managing this same injury for a year, and it has not responded to multiple treatments he has received, so that Real Madrid will decide how to resolve it definitively. From the federation we wish Keylor a swift recovery, and hope to have him back for our next friendly games.”

ESPN FC’s Spain correspondent Dermot Corrigan contributed to this report

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