A tough, rugged game against Colombia in which
four U.S. players made their first Copa America appearance produced promising moments but nothing more than a 1-0 defeat and an 0-3 record in the competition.
Finishing pointless in
the standings is also how the entire exercise of taking a young, largely inexperienced team to so prestigious a competition will be deemed: pointless. Still, in this match Charlie Davies
and Lee Nguyen
displayed verve and skill, Sacha Kljestan
, Drew Moor
and Bobby Boswell
weren't overwhelmed, and Braz Guzan
saved a penalty kick after committing
the foul that yielded it. All came into the game with fewer than three caps.
But a sputtering, wheezing U.S. attack - with forwards Eddie Johnson
and Herculez Gomez
wandering aimlessly -- blighted the first hour of the match. Davies and Nguyen arrived and clicked with Kljestan, Ricardo Clark
and Kyle Beckerman,
but attempts to establish tempo often died in a morass of midfield collisions. Eddie Gaven
replaced Gomez at halftime and did virtually nothing of consequence.
The teams combined for 32 fouls and seven cautions, though two were for time-wasting by
keeper Robinson Zapata
(how's that for a name). His dismissal in the 87th minute forced striker Hugo Rodellega
don the keeper's jersey and gloves, as Colombia has used its three subs. Jaime Castrillon
overpowered Moor to head Camillo Zuniga
's cross for the only goal, but Moor blunted other dangerous situations with bad-ass tackles in the penalty area despite having been cautioned in the second minute.
He and left back Heath Pearce
tried to get forward but not until Davies and Nguyen cranked up the energy and opened up some space were they able to contribute
Nguyen also supplied the best defensive play of the night, save for Guzan's penalty save. After taking a free kick in the attacking third, Nguyen raced back as
Colombia counterattacked and repelled a Andres Chitiva
centering pass over the crossbar with a sliding clearance at the edge of the six-yard box. A world-class
play, all the way.
Kljestan conjured up the best U.S. scoring chance by clipping a clever ball first-time over the Colombian back line for Davies to race onto. The bounce escaped
Davies yet he tracked the ball down as Zapata scrambled out and fed it to Johnson on the left flank. With the keeper out, Johnson dawdled before looping a cross or shot a yard or two past the far
post. Same old, same old.
Guzan dove to his right to block Rodellega's penalty kick that the Colombian had earned after racing onto a through ball and being tripped by Guzan's
Several U.S. set plays presented opportunities but yielded only a Kljestan header over the crossbar, and nothing of real danger.
Beckerman put the ball in the net with a
few minutes remaining after a loose ball had been poked to him past three defenders by Davies, but properly, up went the flag for offside.
Rodellega had no trouble preserving the
shutout despite the whirlwind work of Davies and Nguyen. In stoppage time, Moor heroically fended off a determined effort by Mario Yepez
as the powerful left
back tried to muscle in a second Colombian goal. GROUP C SUMMARIES: July 5 in Barquisimeto Colombia 1 USA 0.
Goal: Castrillon 15. Colombia --
Zapata, Yepes, L.Perea,
Arizala, Zuniga, Banguero, Castrillon, Viafara (Marin, 55), Torres (Ferreira, 85), Rodallega, Valoyes (Chitiva, 78) USA --
Guzan, Moor, Boswell, Pearce,
Califf, Clark, Mapp (Davies, 64), Beckerman, Kljestan, Johnson (Nguyen, 71), Gomez (Gaven, 46). Yellow cards:
USA -- Moor 2, Kljestan 32, Mapp 55;
Colombia -- L.Perea 42, Zapata 71, Valoyes 78, Zapata 87. Red card:
Colombia -- Zapata 86. Referee:
Manuel Andarcia (Venezuela). Att.:
38,000. July 5 in Barquisimeto Argentina 1 Paraguay 0.
Goal: Mascherano 79. Argentina
Abbondanzieri, Ibarra, Burdisso, Diaz, Zanetti, L.Gonzalez (Mascherano, 67), Gago, Cambiasso (Messi, 67), Aimar (Ayala, 85), Palacio, Tevez. Paraguay
Bobadilla, Veron, Caceres, Manzur, Vera, Torres, Santana (Santa Cruz, 81), E.Gonzalez, Dos Santos (Barreto, 69), Cuevas (Lopez, 58), Cabanas Referee:
Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay) Att.: