SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Colombia came to Copa America Centenario with the spotlight on team captain James Rodriguez. His international stardom following the 2014 World Cup contrasted with his personally disappointing recent season at Real Madrid.
Rodriguez had a two-man mark throughout the game, muting his performance, though he scored from the spot in the 42nd minute to provide the final margin in Colombia's 2-0 victory over the United States the tournament opener on Friday night at Levi’s Stadium.
The Colombian playmaker dislocated his shoulder in the 72nd minute, following a disputed ball with US national team captain Michael Bradley, which forced Rodriguez out of the game; Guillermo Celis replaced him a minute later.
“Let's hope what happened to James doesn't get too complicated,” said Colombia head coach Jose Pekerman. “At the beginning he was properly assisted, but he's still in pain and as the hours go by, we'll know what his recovery is.
“[Saturday], we might have a clearer picture.”
Colombia’s concern is palpable since it was the same injury Rodríguez suffered while playing with Real Madrid earlier this year, during a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match against AS Roma. After being subbed off Friday, many were left wondering about the consequences for Colombia if Rodriguez misses the rest of the tournament.
“I want to be optimistic,” Pekerman said. “We know James is fundamental for Colombia and we know he's going to have a desire to play, but the medical staff know and will let us know how much of a risk we can take.”
Rodriguez was assisted immediately after being replaced, but seemed very frustrated with his shoulder and made many gestures of pain and frustration while sitting on the bench. Colombia will face Paraguay just four days from Friday’s game in Pasadena (10:30pm ET; FS1 | Univision | UDN), and Rodriguez's availability against their South American counterparts will depend on how fast he recovers.
“We can't make a rushed decision right now, because I don't want to think about the negatives,” Pekerman said. “We just hope James is able to recover well and have him on the field [on Tuesday].”