The USMNT were defeated by Colombia in the opener of the Copa America thanks to a brilliant display in part by their Serie A contingency.
A tale of two national teams heading in opposite directions. As Colombia continue to export more talent to Europe, their talent pool is being enriched from having the benefit of players play their club ball at Real Madrid, Juventus, Inter, Milan, some of the top clubs historically and currently in the Old World.
It’s not a surprise when you look at the two rosters that there are several players on both sides you will hardly recognize unless you watch their respective national leagues. However the glaring difference for Los Cafeteros is simply the fact that there are top, contributing players to top European sides.
Let’s start with Juan Cuadrado, his loan spell with Juventus this past season can be viewed as largely a success after winning the domestic double. And although Jeison Murillo and Cristian Zapata didn’t have particularly strong seasons individually or at the club level, in matches against American talent, playing in Europe makes a massive difference.
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In the 8th minute of the contest, Zapata blasted a volley home off a corner to give the Colombians the lead, and from there Pekermann’s side did not look back. In their 4-2-3-1 formation, similar to Roma’s setup, Colombia were set to counter. With players like Bacca, Rodriguez and Cuadrado leading the charge, the USMNT’s hodgepodge mixture of MLS and EPL defenders were simply unable to cope with the pace and skill of Colombia’s attacking mighty.
DeAndre Yedlin had a tough night on the right side of defense, and in the 40th minute he gave away a controversial penalty for a handball, which the rules experts are still out on whether that was the correct call.
In the end, the Americans fell short due to a complete display from the Colombians. Jeison Murillo and Cristian Zapata did not put a foot wrong all match. In all honesty, this was probably the duo’s best individual performances of the season.
Carlos Bacca was a phantom throughout the match as he disappeared often behind Colombia’s attacking trio in the midfield. Although he did get an excellent chance in the late going to give Colombia a 3rd goal, but he banged it off the crossbar.
Colombia’s destiny lies in the hands of the players who are plying their trade in the top European leagues, as the gap of quality between players in South America and abroad is wide. It remains to be seen how Colombia can compete against sides like Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and a retooled Paraguay.
Colombia take on Paraguay in 3 days time on June 7th.