SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The battle between the United States and one of the world’s best teams turned out just as the rankings might lead you to expect, with the No. 31-ranked USMNT falling to No. 3 Colombia, 2-0, in the opening game of the Copa América Centenario.
Despite the loss, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann declared himself generally pleased with how his team performed in what he termed “a totally even game.”
“We were absolutely OK with the team performance,” Klinsmann told reporters in his postgame press conference. “Obviously we got punished for two set pieces in the first half, and then against such a quality team [it’s] very, very difficult if you don’t force one goal to get back into the game and equalize it. But overall, we were completely even. We didn’t give them anything.”
The surface level statistics would seem to back up Klinsmann’s assertion somewhat – the US had the upper hand in possession, with 53.4% to Colombia’s 46.6%, completed more passes than their South American opposition, and were only narrowly out-shot by a margin of 12 to 13.
Those numbers are, of course, tempered by the fact that Colombia were able to find the net in the eighth minute of the game, then pad their lead with a penalty in the 42nd, allowing them to sit back and take fewer risks going forward, especially in the second half.
“When they went up two they obviously sat back a little more defensive like any team would and it was a little harder to break down,” US defender Geoff Cameron told reporters after the game. “But we did show some good things, and I think we were playing better soccer than we have in a long time and the formation, the guys are moving off of one another, we’re creating good things, and I think it will come.”
The USMNT’s best chances on the night all came from the foot (or head) of veteran forward Clint Dempsey, who fizzed a shot past the Colombian goal with ‘keeper David Ospina stranded in the first half and had two more good looks from set pieces plays in the second.
Despite those looks from Dempsey, Klinsmann did admit the US was left lacking in terms of chances on goal.
“We wish that we had some more opportunities to score,” the head coach remarked. “But Clint was a warrior out there. He gave everything he had, he was really fighting the fight very positively”
Even with the result, the US felt the game was ultimately a missed opportunity.
“They’re a good team, they have good players. But saying that, they finished their chances,” Cameron said. “Obviously we’re just disappointed, but they are beatable for sure.”