KENYA BROWN - Saturday, June 4, 2016
The United States got their Copa América Centenario campaign off on the wrong foot on Friday as two first half goals gave Colombia the win in the tournament opener at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara.
The Americans were placed in a tough group and they were hoping that they could pull off an upset similar to the 1994 World Cup team that scored a shock 2-1 win over los Cafeteros in Pasadena, California. But it was not meant to be as miscues and a lack of a creative spark on offense leaves the U.S. in need of positive results in their remaining two Group A games.
It did not take the Colombians long to score the first goal of the game in the eighth minute. Geoff Cameron lost track of Cristian Zapata and that allowed the AC Milan defender to find open space in the area to volley home Edwin Cardona's corner kick.
The U.S. had no time to get into the game in the first half as Colombia pressed ahead for more goals and dominated play in the midfield. Sebastian Perez almost doubled the South American side's lead in the 16th minute, but it was well saved by Brad Guzan.
Clint Dempsey did give the U.S. a bit of hope just past the half hour mark when sent a curling shot towards the Colombian goal, but it gave goalkeeper David Ospina no problems as it sailed wide.
Then tragedy struck the U.S. minutes later when Colombia was awarded a penalty.
U.S. captain Michael Bradley literally gave the ball to the Colombians at midfield which allowed them to forge ahead on another attack. The ball was passed out to the left for Farid Diaz. His attempted cross into the area was judged to handled by DeAndre Yedlin. The decision was heavily protested by the Americans, but referee Roberto Garcia was having none of it as he pointed to the spot.
James Rodriguez would step and put away the penalty to give Colombia a 2-0 lead just before halftime.
The U.S. tried desperately to pick things up in the second half and came close to scoring a goal to cut the lead in half. Dempsey's header at goal was cleared away by Perez.
The Seattle Sounders forward had another chance in the 64th minute with a free kick, but Ospina would be there to make the save.
As in the warm-up games prior to the start of the Copa, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann brought in Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic in hopes that they would provide a spark coming off the bench. However, they were not given enough time to get into the game, leaving the U.S. at the bottom of their group after one game.
There will be no time sulk as the Americans must quickly regroup and prepare for their next encounter against CONCACAF rivals Costa Rica on June 7.