Copa America: Why USA Fell Through History’s Trap Door, Lost To Colombia In 2016 Opener

The United States men’s national soccer team has jumped into a familiar hole in a new setting.

Team USA lost 2-0 to Colombia on Friday in the opening game of Copa America 2016. Colombia struck early and late in the first half, with Cristian Zapata scoring after eight minutes and James Rodriguez doubling his team’s advantage in the 44th minute.

The only thing worse than conceding those goals was their timing, as they prevented the United States from creating the momentum to use to its own benefit. Supporters of the home team can only hope the result doesn’t have the same effect on their chances at the tournament itself.

Like previous editions of Copa America, the United States is down early. Time will tell if its exit is just as swift. Goal-differential is the first tie-breaker, so it was important for the U.S. not to lose by three. But they could have if Brad Guzan hadn’t denied Edwin Cardona (plus the follow-up effort) and Carlos Bacca hadn’t hit the crossbar in second half.

Colombia, on the other hand, delivered a composed and professional performance. “Los Cafeteros” only needed a few chances to punish the United States and made the most of all but two.

Let’s take a deeper look into what we learned and USA versus Colombia.

Defensive errors

Geoff Cameron lost track of Zapata in the first goal-scoring sequence.

John Brooks, Cameron’s partner in the middle of the U.S. defense lacked composure and authority throughout the game.

Fullback DeAndre Yedlin conceded the penalty kick Rodriguez converted with an necessary hand-ball.

Team USA must defend almost perfectly in order to succeed at this tournament. So far, it’s 0-for-1.

Missing midfield

U.S. captain Michael Bradley will face intense criticism for his sub-par outing.

But Bradley wasn’t alone in individual disappointment, as his central midfield partners, Alejandro Bedoya and Jermaine Jones lacked the physical drive to create outlets with runs for Bradley to hit. Jones and Bedoya also were wasteful in possession, and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann substituted both in the second half.

What youth movement?

The United States’ younger and inexperienced players fared well in three warm-up games but made little impact in the heat of competitive play. Christian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe were game-changers in May exhibitions but they fared far worse amid their team’s overall frustration against Colombia.

Bobby Wood started in a wide attacking position but failed to create the danger he might have shown if deployed centrally.


The United States was organized well enough from a tactical standpoint but the effect of their physical, technical and mental elements were more negative than positive. Team USA enjoyed plenty of possession in their own half but its passes too often missed the mark in the final third, and its off-the-ball movement lacked dynamism.

After falling to Colombia yet again, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann must go back to the drawing board.

Review the action in our USA-Colombia live blog >>

Thumbnail photo via Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Jun 3, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Colombia defender Cristian Zapata (2) scores on a header above United States defender Geoff Cameron (20) during the first half during the group play stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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