Colombia ends Americans' Copa America with 1-0 victory for third place.
By Robert Wagman
(Saturday, June 25, 2016) -– The United States men started Copa America Centenario with a 2-0 loss to Colombia with the South American power toying with the Americans for much of the match. Tonight, the U.S. ended its somewhat successful tournament performance with another loss to Colombia, 1-0, in the third-place match in front of 29,041 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
The U.S. played much better, taking the game to Colombia, and was in it to the very end.
Colombia had to defend frequently as it was challenged by the Americans from the opening whistle. Colombia took the lead with a goal off a counter-attack in the 31st minute. On three occasions the U.S. came close to a scoring – striker Bobby Wood hot a goal-post, forward Clint Dempsey’s shot as barely saved and the Americans failed to score from a scrum in front of the Colombia net. It was a considerably better showing that in the opening match and showed the U.S. improved in the month-long tournament.
Neither coach used this game to use players who had seen little action up to now. Colombia coach Jose Pekerman stayed with his starting 11 as Jürgen Klinsmann did with the American lineup, with three exceptions. Michael Orozco replaced Fabian Johnson at left back, Matt Besler was in for John Brooks as a center-back and Tim Howard was in goal instead of Brad Guzan.
The two replacements on the back-line were said to be because of unspecified injuries to both Brooks and Johnson.
The shuffled defense let the U.S. down in the 31st minute. Colombia came down the right wing with Orozco trying to keep up. The ball was played into the center, just above the American penalty area where James Rodriguez play it to a hard charging Santiago Arias, whose headed pass was bundled across the line by a sliding Carlos Bacca.
Both Aris and Bacca had beaten their markers. It was an easy goal by Bacca, but he was in position to make the play.
The match was very open with both sides pushing forward and the U.S. taking a higher line than it had in the first game, keeping Colombia at bay while also pressing ahead. The Americans came close several times, but simply could not find a touch in the last third that might have evened the score.
While the U.S. played considerably better than it had in the opening group match against Colombia, it was still bedeviled by poor finishing. In the end, the loss came because Colombia simply had better players and the gulf the U.S. must make up to reach its level is considerable.
U.S. Player Ratings
Goalkeeper Tim Howard - 6.5: After sitting on the bench for the first five matches, he finally got his chance and responded well. He made an amazing save on James Rodriguez in the 12th minute and several others. He could not be slightly faulted on the goal -- he might have come out and batted away the cross before it reached Aris.
Defender Michael Orozco - 3: If there was a big difference in the match for the U.S. it was Orozco for Johnson. Klinsmann uses him as an example of a young player with a world of talent who has not you “broken through.” His immaturity was on full display tonight. He was not able to get forward often and when he did, he left the flank exposed. His immaturity showed in the red card he was shown for a silly foul in stoppage time A not ready for prime time performance.
Defender Geoff Cameron - 7: He was the anchor of the U.S. defense. With either Orozco or Besler often out of position, he was everywhere on the back-line, making plays. A very good night.
Defender Matt Besler – 5: He made a better showing than he had in his previous appearances in the tournament. But he is not at the same level as Brooks, who was one of the top defenders in the tournament. He made mistakes and was not available at times when it counted. He needs to make a major improvement if he is to help in the upcoming World Cup. For now, just hope Brooks stays healthy.
Defender DeAndre Yedlin – 5.5: At times, he excelled, but at other times, he did not make plays he should have. If anything he, was better on the attack than on defense. As in the first match, he was overmatched by Colombia attackers.
Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya - 5.5: As with the first encounter with Colombia, he had a very frustrating night. He made numerous runs that went unseen by teammates. He caused defenders problems like when he set up Dempsey, but his errors outweighed his good plays. Another uneven performance.
Midfielder Michael Bradley - 4.5: Did his play hurt the Americans throughout the entire tournament? That is what is being whispered in the U.S. camp. He made a few good plays tonight, but he was too often out of position or unable to make the plays he normally would. The fact he was pulled with almost 20 minutes to go showed what kind of shape he was in.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones - 6.5: He seemed to want to make up for missing the Argentina semifinal match after a red card. As usual, he was all over the midfield making both offensive and defensive plays. He was the best U.S. player in the midfield and attack.
Midfielder Bobby Wood - 6: He had a hard shot that hit the post. Had it gone in, he would behave been a hero. But, it hit it inches wide. His play for much of the night was just a bit off. He stood out with his defense from the front line.
Forward Clint Dempsey - 5.5: He came so close on a free kick and at several other times, but he visibly weakened as the match progressed. He just could not make the big play.
Forward Gyasi Zardes - 4: On the positive side, he worked very hard, winning balls with his pace at both ends, but he too shows immaturity as when he froze with the choice to shoot or pass and did neither. He must improve his game and it’s questionable if he can do so in Major League Soccer.
Midfielder Christian Pulisic (74th minute for Bedoya) - 5: He came on and showed he is not over-awed by this level of competition. He made a few good plays, combined with very few mistakes. How good will he become with two more years of top German Bundesliga competition?.
Midfielder Darlington Nagbe (79th minute for Bradley) - 5: He did some good things, but was not able to add much to the U.S. midfield.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Geoff Cameron.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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