By Staff Writer:
SANTA CLARA, Calif. The United States Men’s National Team suffered a disappointment in their Copa America opener as Colombia dealt Jurgen Klinsmann’s side a 2-0 loss in front of a sold-out crowd at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
In the end, set pieces proved the Achilles heel for an organized U.S. team that was prepared to fight, despite the obvious technical superiority of the opposition. Colombia went ahead very early on, after U.S. center back Geoff Cameron gave away a corner. AC Milan defender Cristian Zapata connected on a volley from Edwin Cardona to put the Colombians ahead in just the eighth minute.
James Rodriguez doubled the Colombian lead five minutes before halftime, expertly slotting a penalty past U.S. keeper Brad Guzan after DeAndre Yedlin was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
From there it was largely a matter of game management for a Colombian team that allowed the U.S. to dominate possession but was content to sit back and absorb the pressure.
The U.S. put in a respectable performance overall, but struggled to create or capitalize on dangerous opportunities. The biggest attacking threat for the USMNT came from Clint Dempsey. The Seattle Sounders striker provided the only truly dangerous moments for the home side – shooting wide of the near post from open play in the 36th minute and forcing a diving save from Colombia keeper David Ospina with a curling free kick in the 64th.
Colombia for their part, gave the impression that they could’ve gone up another gear or two if necessary. The one negative for the South Americans came late in the second half, when star player James Rodriguez was subbed off after landing on his shoulder awkwardly from tangling with U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley.
With less than half an hour to go, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann tried to shake things up with substitutions, introducing Christian Pulisic for Bobby Wood and Darlington Nagbe for Jermaine Jones. However, it was to no avail with the U.S. largely failing to land a glove on Colombia, apart from the two near misses by Dempsey.
The U.S. continues its Copa America Centenario campaign next Tuesday, June 7 when it faces Costa Rica at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Colombia faces Paraguay the same day at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
Photos courtesy of ISI and Celso Bayo.