Saturday, June 4, 2016

Copa América hosts drop opener to Colombia

Last night, the Copa América Centenario started in Santa Clara, USA. The hosts dropped their opening match 0-2 to Colombia and are under pressure to win their next game instantly. 

James Rodríguez celebrates his goal against the USA. (Photo:
Disaster started early on as the Colombians took the lead only eight minutes into the game. Cristián Zapata scored with a thunderous shot from Edwin Cardona's corner. Instead of showing a fast reaction, Jürgen Klinsmann's Americans never found their game and were pretty much chanceless throughout the first 45 minutes. 

Colombia controlled the game and kept finding their Milan striker Carlos Bacca up front, who left out several chances or was whistled offside. While they kept giving away freekicks in their own half, the USA could do near to nothing with them. After 40 minutes, Colombia received the opportunity to double their lead when referee Roberto García awarded the South Americans a penalty. Farid Díaz' cross had previously gone off the hand of DeAndre Yedlin, a correct decision. James Rodríguez left Brad Guzan not the slightest chance, converting it to the bottom right corner (42'). 

If you thought to yourself at halftime that the USA could hardly play any worse, you were proven wrong to start the second 45 minutes. A strangely lifeless performance continued to get even worse, but coach Klinsmann did not elect to react with a substitution. Cardona and Bacca continued to be the most dangerous players on the pitch, endangering Guzan's goal several further times. 

After an hour, the Soccer Boys finally worked out their first big chance. Unsurprisingly, it came from a set piece, as Michael Bradley's corner was headed towards David Ospina's goal by Clint Dempsey, but cleared off the line by Sebastián Pérez. Dempsey continued to shoulder the American attacks afterwards, trying his luck with a shot towards the top corner, countered magnificently by Ospina. Instead of letting his players continue after finally creating some chances, Klinsmann made two substitutions after which the USA was dead again. 

Colombia regained their composure and the endless Bacca marathon continued. Once he was denied by a defender storming back in the last second, another time he hit the crossbar after having Guzan beat already. Towards the end of the game, they even had the physical advantage, receiving a lot of room to counter on top. The USA never got another chance and deservedly lost after an extremely disappointing home performance. 

Coach Klinsmann said after the game: "We are standing with our backs against the wall and we need three points against Costa Rica." To have any chance of winning against their CONCACAF rivals in a few days, they will need a 100% better plan. Paraguay is a very tough opponent they will need points from at the end of the group stage too. Not few have predicted them to be one of the surprises in the Copa América Centenario. In the meantime, Colombia can celebrate a decent start and are well on their way to the quarterfinals. Their only worry is the injury of James Rodríguez, substituted off after falling on his shoulder.


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