The U.S. national team’s 2016 Copa America Centenario campaign is off to a sputtering start following its 2-0 defeat at the hands of the world’s no. 3, Colombia, in the opening game of the 100th-anniversary tournament Friday night in Santa Clara, Calif.
Cristian Zapata and James Rodriguez scored the game’s only goals, as Jurgen Klinsmann’s Yanks were lopsidedly outplayed in every area of the field for 90 straight minutes.
Colombia went ahead with their first chance of the game, seven minutes on the clock, when Zapata lost his marker, Geoff Cameron, and hammered a low, right-footed strike past Brad Guzan from Edwin Cardona’s corner kick.
Colombia doubled their lead following a bit of controversy — and a massive blunder by Bradley — less than five minutes before halftime. Michael Bradley gave the ball away in a terrible part of the field, which quickly turned into Farid Diaz crossing the ball into the box, at which point DeAndre Yedlin was adjudged to have handled the ball. Penalty to Colombia, and Rodriguez converted with ease.
The USMNT’s first clear-cut chance of the game came right on the hour mark, when Clint Dempsey found himself free in the penalty area and headed Bradley’s corner kick down and goal-bound, only to see it booted clear by a defender protecting the near post.
It was Dempsey who, four minutes later, forced David Ospina into a desperate, diving save of the former USMNT captain’s free kick from 25 yards out. Hit with pace and curve around the wall, Dempsey early found the upper-90 if not for the Arsenal goalkeeper covering all of that ground so quickly.
[ FOLLOW: PST’s Joe Prince-Wright live from Santa Clara ]
Rodriguez was forced to leave the game with an injury to his shoulder in the 72nd minute, a couple minutes after landing awkwardly on his left arm. The Real Madrid superstar briefly left the field for treatment and re-emerged from the bench before ultimately being removed a minute later.
Carlos Bacca went inches from making it 3-0 in the 80th minute, when the star Sevilla striker got in behind the USMNT defense and hammered a shot off the crossbar and back into the field of play. Guzan was easily beaten by the effort without knowing all that much about it.
The USMNT will face Costa Rica in Group A game no. 2, Tuesday night (8 p.m. ET) at Soldier Field in Orlando, Fla., while Colombia could secure passage into the quarterfinals with a victory over Paraguay at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. (10:30 p.m. ET)