Copa América hopes die day before Colombia match.
Young Americans fall 1-0 to Colombia, finish last in Copa América.
BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela (Thursday, July 5, 2007) -- Midfielder Jaime Castrillón struck early to send Colombia to a 1-0 decision over the United States in the finale for both nations in Copa América Group C before 35,000 at Estadio Metropolitano tonight.
The U.S. Soccer Federation's decision to send an extremely inexperienced team to this prestigious tournament is one that has been and will continue to be criticized, and coach Bob Bradley could hardly have fielded a greener side than he did today. Nine American starters had less than 10 international appearances with only striker Eddie Johnson (29) and defender Dan Califf (15) having reached double digits in caps.
Six starters had appeared three or less times for their nation. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, defenders Drew Moor and Bobby Boswell, midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Sacha Kljestan and forward Herculez Gomez came into the match with a combined 10 caps.
Though Bradley's charges gave Argentina and Paraguay more difficulty than expected in the first two matches, the results were predictable. After falling to Argentina 4-1 and Paraguay 3-1, the U.S. was one of only two teams to go 0-3 among the 12 entrants and finished last because its goal differential was minus-6 to minus-3 for Ecuador, the cellar dweller in Group B.
"In all three games, I think we had moments when we played well," said Bob Bradley, who was undefeated as U.S. head coach entering this event and now is 10-3-1 (.750). "We still must be more consistent over 90 minutes in order to move to the next level. As we have said over the last few weeks, it is a great challenge to play in back-to-back tournaments. You run into situations with the various clubs, and as a result we brought a younger team here."
The U.S. and Colombia (1-2) knew they yesterday were eliminated from advancing to the quarterfinals. Colombia earned the distinction of being the one third-place team not to move to the second round and there is a clamor in the country for coach Hernan Dario Gomez to be fired.
The first-ever match at the new Estadio Metropolitan saw both teams create little offensive danger. The U.S. managed only one shot on frame for the match compared to three for Colombia, which held the overall shot advantage 7-6.
Each side placed several enticing free kicks into dangerous areas in the first half, but neither side was able to capitalize. U.S. forward Herculez Gomez shot wide in the fifth minute and Kljestan fired directly at goalkeeper Robinson Zapata from above the penalty area in the 22nd minute.
Colombia exploited poor marking by the American back-line in the 14th minute to take a 1-0 lead. After Boswell cleared a long ball out of his box, Colombia defender Camilo Zuńiga received a throw-in on the right flank and sent a cross to the far post where Castrillón had shaken Moor. Castrillón sent his uncontested header into the top left corner of the net, well beyond helpless keeper Brad Guzan.
Colombia nearly increased its advantage to 2-0 in the 35th minute. After a U.S. turnover in its defensive half, Colombia quickly countered and striker Hugo Rodallega was sent in alone into the left side of the box. Guzan came out and attempted a sliding save, but swept his arms across Rodallega's legs, sending the Colombian flying and bringing on a penalty kick.
Guzan redeemed himself with a save of the PK, taking advantage of the indecision of Rodallega, who hesitated in his approach. Guzan read his opponent's intentions and dove to his right to turn away the weak kick.
The U.S. had several half chances after intermission, coming closest when midfielder Eddie Gaven, a second-half reserve, shot over the crossbar in the 53rd minute and when striker Eddie Johnson later missed wide right. Kljestan put a header over the bar in the 79th minute, seven minutes before midfielder Kyle Beckerman put a point-blank shot into the net, only to see the apparent equalizer waved off because he was clearly offside.
That led to a bizarre sequence. Zapata delayed the restart by kneeling and playing with his socks and Venezuelan referee Manuel Andarcia issued him a yellow card for his delaying tactics, his second caution of the match, leading to his ejection. Zapata wasted an additional four minutes before finally leaving the field while now-shorthanded Colombia, having used all three allowable substitutes, was forced to put Rodallega in net.
Zapata apparently accomplished the desired result, because only four minutes of stoppage time were added and five extra minutes were actually played. The Americans were not able to take advantage of a forward guarding the Colombia net and never managed a shot.
Meanwhile, U.S. reserve striker Lee Nguyen, who replaced Johnson in the 72nd minute, raced back on defense to prevent a Colombian tally off a counter-attack in the 83rd minute, disrupting Andre Chitiva's feed just before it reached Rodallega's foot deep in the box.