USA vs Colombia, the opening match of Copa America Centenario, was played at Levis Stadium today with much pomp and circumstance. After a massive amount of hype leading up to it, this game felt more like True Detective season 2 than Game of Thrones Season 6.  Klinsmann gave fans the lineup many wanted (almost) but the 0-2 loss was not a promising result for USA. It was mostly dull, slightly embarrassing at times, showed flashes of what everyone loves, but could never quite get you over the line.

The performance from the squad, though holding their own with a good Colombian team, showed obvious areas for improvement. Here’s my keys to the game:

  • The midfield, particularly and unusually Michael Bradley, was not able to do much with the ball and had a hard time finding lanes for passes into the final third. The combination of Bedoya, Bradley, and Jones was not effective, and things seemed to pick up when Bedoya and Jones were subbed out. Jones and Bedoya showed flashes of why they belong on the squad, but I’m not too sure Nagbe and Zusi/Beckerman aren’t better options.
  • The forwards, mainly Dempsey, had some opportunities and most of them were created by Zardes. Zardes played great the first half, and lost some of his influence on the game in the second half, but it’s clear why he’s out there. Bobby Wood was his usual hustle bustle self, but wasn’t that impactful on the game. When Pulisic was subbed in it felt like he did more with his 25 minutes than Bobby all 65 of his.
  • Despite all the bad play from the Midfield, it’s hard to pin the loss on them when two defensive lapses in judgement led directly to both goals. Geoff Cameron, who otherwise had a good game, let his man get too much space on a corner for the first goal. Yedlin put his hands up as a cross/shot curled past him in the box and was called for the penalty for the second goal. Tough for both players because otherwise they played fairly well.

Here’s some highlights from the game itself

  • Colombia testing USA’s back line early but nothing doing
  • USA started brightly with a run up the right hand side from Zardes finding Wood in the box but he couldn’t get control of it. The move was started by a nice piece of skill from Geoff Cameron in the ‘5
  • Cuadrado dove but didn’t get a call in ‘7. So much diving in this game for a second I checked to make sure this wasn’t taking place in a sewage lake in Brazil
  • Great ball into the box found Colombia’s Bacca with just the keeper to beat if he could corral the ball but Geoff Cameron came in quick and pushed it out of bounds for a corner
  • The resulting corner was whipped into the box and Geoff Cameron just straight up lost his man, Zapata, who cooly slotted it past a helpless Guzan. 1-0 Colombia
  • Dempsey tried a bike from way too far out and the resulting clearance resulted in a fast break by Colombia. As Geoff Cameron came in to break up the play Guzan came all the way out of the 18 yard box and got lucky that Cameron was able to do enough to get the ball to the corner. No idea what Guzan was thinking on that. He may have been running off field in absolute panic that he was still the starting keeper for USMNT
  • USA didn’t let it break their spirits and came back with some good play in the midfield to get a few set piece opportunities and balls into the box, but the final ball was never very good and by the ’20 mark USMNT’s good play had only resulted in being down 1. Can someone also explain to me why Fabian Johnson is taking free kicks in attacking positions? Let Bradley do Bradley please
  • Bobby Wood was questionably called offsides after Zardes found him streaking down the left. It was a nice bit of skill to get free by Zardes in the center of the attacking third
  • Yedlin blocked a shot by Cardona after the Colombia midfielder’s great move allowed room for a shot from the top of the box. Immediately after he created another opportunity by lobbing a ball to himself in the box and getting on the end of the shot. He is good and we are bad at this time
  • ’24 USA won a Freedom kick in a dangerous spot. Dead center about 35 yards out but Bradley finds Jones a bit too far outside the goal posts and he heads it well wide
  • Dempsey straight shoved over Torres after losing out on a 50/50 ball. That was fun.
  • A great opportunity from USMNT found Bobby Wood played into the final third by Bradley who then pushed it right to Zardes. Zardes found a streaking Yedlin on the right side who crossed it in a bit too far. Jones headed it back into a dangerous area but nothing would come of it. James Rodriguez tripped over his own feet on the ensuing fast break so there’s that.
  • A nice move by Bobby Wood forced a penalty about 30 yards out which Fabian Johnson took and proceeded to bash straight into the wall. They needed to do more with what. And that was the fourth free kick with no attacking result. Not good.
  • James Rodriguez found a streaking Colombian left winger but Zardes actually got back to make a great defensive recovery.
  • Jones looking a bit slow but getting involved in a lot of plays
  • Dempsey got himself a space for a shot top of the box and aimed a curler for the left side of the net. He had Ospina complete beat but it didn’t quite curl in enough and missed the post by about a foot. Ospina, the Colombia keeper from Arsenal, couldn’t have cared less he barely even looked at it. Pretty sure he was checking to make sure he was still on Arsenal during that one.
  • Yedlin put the USMNT down another goal after a shot from the left hand side found his hand instead of his body as he turned to avoid the shot.  Yedlin wasn’t even looking at the shot as it hit his hand as he was clearly trying to avoid getting hit with it, but his hand was out in an “unnatural position” which is how the rule reads. It’s understandable why it’s called. You’d hope that in a questionable situation like that the ref wouldn’t decide the game and lean towards the most extreme outcome, but not much you can do. James Rodriguez drilled home the ensuing penalty shot. 2-0 Colombia
  • Here’s the handball:

  • Here’s the goal:

  • Key first half points: USMNT looked as good as Colombia but two blown plays decided the half and evenutally the game. Zardes was the man of the half, and Cameron, despite giving up the first goal was probably the best defender. Bedoya looked like he was unsure which side to run to with the ball. Outside of giving up the goals, USMNT making no opportunities from set plays probably the biggest disappointment
  • Second half started with Colombia possessing a lot of the ball and USMNT not doing much about it. You’d think they’d be pressing down 2 goals, especially against a Colombia team which doesn’t really like possessing the ball. This is NOT THE #DANGERZONE
  • Colombia ripped a shot from well outside that forced Guzan into a save which he blocked straight back to the center of the box. A Colombian forward was there but Cameron just barely beat him to the ball, nearly causing another penalty kick, but the ref waived it off
  • John Brooks had a great tackle to dispossess Cuadrado who went down like he just dropped a contact at the Victoria Secret fashion show. But the next thing we know Brooks is standing over Cuadrado like he’s Will Smith Independence Day Punching an Alien. Power move and no cards came from it? There may have been some extracurricular activity from Cuadrado before Brooks went all Rocky IV but naturally the cameras didn’t even attempt to show us that
  • USMNT’s first corner was put in a great position by Bradley and headed smartly at the bottom right corner by Cameron. It was barely saved off the line by Colombia’s well positioned defender. Easily the best opportunity for USA
  • Dempsey won a free kick right in a great position, about 23 yards out on the right hand side. He bent it over the wall, perhaps taking a slight deflection off of the wall, to the right hand top corner but the diving Ospina made an incredible save
  • The future of USMNT came on in the ’65 minute, Christian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe, subbed in for Bobby Wood and Jermaine Jones, respectively
  • Pulisic and Dempsey got a bit tied up in the box and Dempsey said get out of my way child and took the shot
  • Pulisic looked good hassling people on the left side and creating an opportunity which ended up with Bedoya who blasted it to his family home in Colombia
  • Our boy Juicy Zusi subbed on for Bedoya (finally) in the 86′
  • Nagbe almost immediately won a free kick after making a strong run up the right hand side and was tripped at  the left hand corner of the box about 5 yards from the line. Great opportunity Bradley who put a good ball in for Dempsey but it was punched out well by Ospina

Not much happened after that and the boys in blue go home empty handed. Bradley was really in bad form all game, looking sluggish and unsure on the ball. Dempsey was wasteful with the opportunities he had, although he did have a great free kick stolen by a greater Ospina save. Nagbe and Pulisic did inject some energy and good attack play but there just wasn’t enough for them to work with. Bedoya, despite having flashes of actual soccer ability, was mostly unable to do anything with the ball. Guzan was clearly not in a position to actually defend the goal. He was out of position badly a few times and was lucky to have not given up a third goal when he hesitated coming out of net to stop an incoming one on one situation and the shot clanged off the bar. Ugly game for USA and not what we were expecting out of True Detective season 2. I mean USMNT. Ugh.

 

“I’m just not sure I want to be a part of a system which rewards people who pickle their own vegetables. Is that even safe to eat?” – Deep thoughts by David Ospina