Two first-half goals by Colombia saw Los Cafeteros claim a 2-0 win over the United States Men's National Team in the opening match of the 2016 Copa America Centenario at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. The crowd of 67,439 saw the Colombians jump out on top of Group A, while the Yanks drop to the bottom, with the other first-round match coming tomorrow in Orlando.
Just eight minutes into the match, the Americans found themselves a goal behind. Off a corner kick, defender Cristian Zapata lost Geoff Cameron on the back post and rolled to the penalty spot to finish first time with a right-footed shot. Zapata used a teammate and Michael Bradley as a pick an Cameron got caught ball watching a bit on the cross.
The Yanks struggled to get anything going in the final third for the next 30 minutes before Clint Dempsey saw his left- footed shot from distance just miss. After that, it appeared as though the U.S. would go into the half down one. But in the 41st minute, a cross from the left side of the 18-yard box struck DeAndre Yedlin's arm and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. While close, Yedlin's arm did seem to be extended from his body. Real Madrid man and Colombian captain James Rodriguez stepped up and buried to ensuing PK to double to Colombian lead and end the scoring.
While the Yanks failed to create many chances on the night, the score line fails to show how well the team played. The U.S. did well to keep possession, and the back line managed to keep up with the blazing speed of Los Cafeteros. Only once in the second half was the U.S. defense caught out of position, with striker Carlos Bacca being played in one-on-one with keeper Brad Guzan before seeing his shot hit the crossbar.
While chances were few, Dempsey was the nearest to being the danger man and had two good looks in the 59th and 64th minutes. The first effort saw Dempsey's header from a corner cleared off the line before Colombia keeper David Ospina made a terrific save to deny Dempsey's free kick.
A scary moment for Colombian fans occurred in the second half when Rodriguez went down and appeared to injure his left shoulder. He was subbed off and it will be interesting to see whether or not he will be fit to play in the team's next game.
The loss by no means kills the USMNT's chances of advancing to the knockout rounds, but the Americans will need to get at least a result next time out against Costa Rica. The Yanks take on the Ticos June 7 in Chicago.
The Mane Land will be on hand late Saturday afternoon for the other first-round Group A match-up, when Costa Rica takes on Paraguay at 5 p.m. at Camping World Stadium.