Hertha Berlin centre-back John Anthony Brooks will be tasked with keeping Lionel Messi under wraps when the USA take on Argentina in the semi-finals of the Copa America Centenario in Houston on Tuesday (kick-off: 21:00ET/ 04:00CEST+1 day).
The towering 23-year-old has provided the backbone of the USMNT's stellar run to the last four and has demonstrated all the credentials necessary to shackle a player who has registered a goal every 41 minutes of the tournament.
Brooks 'more mature'
"I think [John's] just now realising the sky is the limit for him," US head coach Jürgen Klinsmann said. "He's getting calmer. He's becoming more mature communicating with the whole back line. As a centre-back you need to keep a high level of aggressiveness because you are there to intimidate those strikers. So he does all those little things better and better. Doesn't mean he is perfect, but he is really maturing his game and it’s fun for us coaches to watch."
Brooks has kept five clean sheets in seven appearances for the USMNT this calendar year - including two in recent Copa America group stage wins over Costa Rica and Paraguay. He has put in some heroic last-ditch challenges and is already many fans' pick for player of the tournament. Little wonder Klinsmann believes "he will only get better".
Coach: Jürgen Klinsmann
Argentina: Romero - Mercado, Otamendi, Funes Mori, Rojo - Fernandez, Banega, Mascherano - Messi (c), Higuain, Di Maria
Coach: Gerardo Martino