USA vs. Colombia | Copa America Centenario Third-Place Match Preview

USA vs. Colombia
Copa America Centenario – Third-Place Match
June 25 | 8 pm ET | University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
TV: FX, Univision, UDN

The US and Colombia will meet for the second time in the Copa America Centenario on Saturday, when they’ll face off in the tournament’s third-place game at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Both teams are coming off of disappointing semifinal defeats, with the US getting thoroughly outplayed in a 4-0 loss to Argentina on Tuesday and Colombia falling 2-0 to Chile in a weather-delayed match on Wednesday.

Will the youngsters get the nod?

Much to the consternation of many US fans, Jurgen Klinsmann chose to keep Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic out of the starting lineup for Tuesday’s defeat to Argentina. By the time both players entered in the second half, the US had dug far too deep of a hole for either player to have much effect.

With far less on the line in the third-place match, there’s no real reason for Klinsmann to not start both exciting young attackers on Saturday. Giving the two inexperienced internationals some solid run against strong competition will only be beneficial for them and the USMNT, who could certainly use a creative boost heading into their two World Cup qualifiers this fall.

Another chance against high-quality opposition

As has been the case for most of Klinsmann’s tenure, the US in the Copa America have taken care of business against opponents they should’ve beaten (Paraguay, Costa Rica and, to a slightly lesser extent, Ecuador) and lost to more talented sides (Colombia, Argentina).

While there’s certainly no shame in dropping a result against Los Cafeteros or La Albiceleste, the manner of the US’s two Copa defeats was plenty concerning. The Americans looked listless against Colombia and outright terrible against Argentina, continuing a trend of poor performances in meaningful games against world-class opposition. They’ll have an opportunity to flip that script a bit on Saturday, albeit in what will likely be a slightly diluted third-place matchup.

Cooled off Colombia

Los Cafeteros looked stylish in group stage wins against the US and Paraguay, but they’ve fallen off since, dropping a 3-2 result to Costa Rica in the Group A finale, surviving against Peru in a penalty kick shootout in the quarters and falling 2-0 to Chile in the semifinals.

Head coach Jose Pekerman has drawn some criticism for his tactics during the tournament, while star midfielder James Rodriguez has been quiet since starting his Copa with a pair of solid matches. It’s no sure thing James will play on Saturday (like Klinsmann, Pekerman might want to give some run to a few of his regular reserves), but both will be motivated to end their tournament strongly after their title aspirations were brushed aside in relatively easy fashion on Wednesday.