Colombia earned a convincing 2-0 victory over USA in the opening match of the Copa America 2016 Centenario at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Friday.
AC Milan defender Cristian Zapata opened the scoring for Los Cafeteros within 8 minutes of the match, while Real Madrid superstar James Rodriguez doubled the lead for the visitors before half-time.
Here are five major talking points from the match:
USA lacklustre, completely outplayed
The hosts enjoyed loads of possession but didn’t do enough to trouble the Colombian defence. In fact, Colombia were more than happy to sit back and hit them on the counter. USA enjoyed a lion share 53% ball possession but how many clear cut goal chances had they created? Hardly one or two. They were restricted to mainly shooting from the distance were ineffective in penetrating the defence. They had 12 shots on goal, but could keep only two of them on target.
Zapata – what a time to score!
The AC Milan defender scored his first ever goal for his country in eight years when he opened the scoring for La Tricolour on Saturday. It was also the fastest goal of the competition since 1999.
His club teammate Carlos Bacca did all the hard work for the opening goal; the Colombian striker took his marker away with him leaving Zapata in acres of space to slot home with ease. Again, USA’s lackadaisical defending to blame for the goal. The players weren’t quick enough to react and luckily for Zapata, he pounced on to the mistake in a flash.
Threats from the flanks, 2nd goal
Jose Pekerman’s game plan was simple. While Rodriguez was given a free role to do whatever he pleases, the central attacking threats mainly came from the flanks. In Juan Cuadrado and Farid Diaz, he has two pacy wing-backs who waste no time in joining the attack at every possible opportunity.
In the build-up to the second goal, Diaz’s cross from the left took a touch of Yedlin’s hand resulting in a penalty. It seemed a harsh decision as the ball hit the arm at side level as he attempted to block the cross. Rodriguez stepped up, and coolly slotted home with great aplomb.
Rodriguez – the talisman
The Colombian forward has had a tough 2015/16 campaign at Real Madrid. He had a frosty relationship with Rafael Benitez, while lost the trust of the Champions League winning manager Zinedine Zidane as well. And there is a high possibility that the Colombian might leave the club in the summer
— OptaJavier (@OptaJavier) June 4, 2016
However, James has always delivered whenever he has played for his nation. He scored his 15th goal for his country today and he’s now joint fifth all-time top goalscorer alongside Teo and Aristizábal.
He has been simply sensational for Colombia in the last two years, having scored 12 goals and assisting in further six. Furthermore, he has created more chances than any other Colombian players since 2014.
USA’s chances & all eyes on James’ injury
Jurgen Klinsmann’s side came into this match on the back of a good run of form. The German was confident of a strong performance having won all three of their warm-up games.
As a result of today’s defeat, USA must win their remaining two games against Paraguay and Costa Rica, in order to qualify to the next round, which is easier said than done.
Rodriguez fell awkwardly after a challenge from Bradley in the second half was he was replaced immediately. He punched the dugout and didn’t look happy at all with the substitution. While Colombia have maintained their 100% winning record in 2016, all eyes are now fixed on James’ injury.
USA Starting XI: Brad Guzan – 6 John Brooks – 5 , Geoff Cameron – 5, Fabian Johnson – 4 DeAndre Yedlin – 4, Michael Bradley – 6 , Jermaine Jones – 5, Alejandro Bedoya – 5, Clint Dempsey – 6, Bobby Wood – 5, Gyasi Zardes – 5
USA subs: Christian Pulisic, Darlington Nagbe, Graham Zusi
Colombia starting XI: David Ospina – 6, Jeison Murillo – 6, Cristián Zapata – 7, Farid Díaz – 7, Santiago Arias – 6, James Rodríguez – 7, Dani Torres – 5, Sebastián Pérez – 6, Carlos Bacca – 6, Edwin Cardona – 5, Juan Cuadrado – 6
Colombia subs: Guillermo Celis, Dayro Moreno
Referee: Roberto Garcia