The United States were punished 2-0 by Colombia on Friday night to open the 2016 Copa America Centenario. A heavily pro-Colombian crowd in Santa Clara, California, watched as Geoff Cameron carelessly allowed Cristian Zapata to put his side ahead early before James Rodriguez capitalized from the spot on a sophomoric handball from DeAndre Yedlin.
The result did seem somewhat cruel to the USA, but international football is anything but forgiving. The USA committed two grave mistakes, and they were punished for them. They had a couple of decent opportunities to get a goal of their own, but Colombia was largely untroubled throughout the course of 90 minutes under the California sunshine.
The only negative for Colombia on the night was an apparent shoulder injury to James, forcing his substitution in the 69th minute, following an awkward landing after brushing Michael Bradley. A dislocated shoulder would surely signal an early end to the Colombian star’s Copa America.
Cristian Zapata 8' opening goal:
James Rodriguez 42' penalty:
James Rodriguez 69' injury:
Apart from opening their campaign with a disappointing loss, the United States has other concerns going into their final two group games against Costa Rica and Paraguay.
3 Concerns Before USA vs. Costa Rica
#1: The USA's Strongest Starting XI Remains A Mystery
Jurgen Klinsmann returned to the 4-3-3 formation that seemed to be clicking into place during pre-tournament friendlies, but the coach was visibly bemused by his sides lack of attacking cohesion in this match. Michael Bradley's distribution from the holding role was uncharacteristically sloppy, Jermaine Jones had his worst game in a USA shirt for quite some time, and Bobby Wood and Gyasi Zardes were toothless and nonexistent in attack.
The starting XI against Costa Rica will almost certainly feature some changes. Jermaine Jones doesn't like changes.
Jermaine Jones was not very happy with Jurgen Klinsmann subbing him out. #USMNT #USAvCOL pic.twitter.com/p4K0JDH7pP— Caitlin Murray (@caitlinmurr) June 4, 2016
#2: Where's The Vaunted Home Support?
In the prematch buildup, Kobe Bryant said that the USA would be supported by an "army" of followers. Apart from when the bombers (USA™) flew over Levi's Stadium, Colombia had no reason to fear the atmosphere around them. A hugely pro-Colombian crowd broke out the ole' chants before Brad Guzan could even ask himself what he'd done to deserve such a year. Why haven't we been allowed to play all of our matches in Columbus, Ohio?
#3: Clint Dempsey Remains Our Only Hope
Clint Dempsey is everyone's favorite. He rose from humble origins to the top of football, he's an American legend that everyone can get behind. He's also 33 and had logged more miles than almost anyone on the pitch. We simply need Dempsey to create or score in order to be successful on the attack, and that's a massive burden for the Texan at this point.
Another look at David Ospina's save to deny Clint Dempsey. Can the #USMNT find a way back? #USAvCOL #CopaAmerica https://t.co/b2IHaQSABr— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 4, 2016
There's so much hype surrounding Christian Pulisic because we very much need another reliable attacking option. I don't think Jozy Altidore has ever been missed more.
The United States returns to action on June 7 against Costa Rica. Colombia plays later that day against Paraguay in their second match. For the USA, it's already do or die time. A tournament that was "100 years in the making" could be over in 180 minutes for the USA.
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