Colombia defeats USMNT 2-0 in Copa America opener, James Rodriguez leaves with shoulder injury

Before the Copa America Centenario opener, the U.S. Men’s National Team knew they were facing an uphill challenge going against third ranked Colombia. Colombia took advantage of two big mistakes and won 2-0 and move into a rather big lead in Group A of the Copa America Centenario.

The starting midfield of Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones were rather stagnant compared to the rest of the team but other than them, the team was competitive and showed signs of life. That may be fine for a friendly but since it’s a tournament game and a game where results is the only thing that matters, it doesn’t matter how well the USMNT play when they lose 2-0.

The game was pretty even at the start but that turned on its head rather early as Colombia scored on a 8th minute corner kick. Cristian Zapata got away from Geoff Cameron on the set piece and with a great volley, put Colombia up 1-0.

Then, toward the end of the first half, comes the play everyone will be talking about. DeAndre Yedlin got whistled for a handball and like any handball other than Luis Suarez’s at the World Cup, it was a debatable call that led to a penalty kick.

It very much appeared like the ball hit Yedlin’s arm and regardless if Yedlin showed intent, he made his body bigger by stretching slightly out and the ball hit his hand and that would appear to be a handball. Even if there is an argument that it shouldn’t have been a handball, Yedlin put himself in a position to invite the call so it can’t be shocking that he was whistled. James Rodriguez, who would later go out due to a shoulder injury, scored to make it 2-0 at halftime.

Down 2-0, the USMNT tried to get it back. Clint Dempsey led the attacking and there was a stretch where he was denied two great goals with some great blocks by Colombia. The first, a great header off a corner that was cleared by Sebastian Perez on the post. Then, just four minutes later, Dempsey launched a curling free kick around the wall and forced David Ospina to make a great two handed punch to keep the ball out and eventually seal the win for Colombia and go into a big lead after their first game.

The game ended with uncertainties with both teams. While Colombia won, their best player may have separated his shoulder. For the United States, they now enter into likely must win games against Costa Rica and Paraguay. To be fair, before tonight, that was likely going to be the scenario for the USMNT but now that it’s a reality, some are starting to panic. If there’s a silver lining, the USMNT played arguably their toughest group stage opponent first. And while Costa Rica and Paraguay won’t be walks in the park, wins against them as well as a draw between the two teams tomorrow will go a long way for the USMNT to come back and potentially get into the knockout stage.

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter @phillipbupp