piece haunts the USA again.
Much of the pregame talk was about how Colombia is vulnerable on set pieces, but everyone seemed to forget the USA's problems in similar situations. Goals off set pieces were the difference when Jamaica beat the USA, 2-1, in the semifinals of the 2015 Gold Cup (goals off a throw-in and directly from a free kick) and Guatemala stunned the USA, 2-0, in March (goals off a corner kick and goal kick).
It took only eight minutes for the Colombians to score off a corner kick. Edwin Cardona served a ball into area, where the Cafeteros employed a pick on Cameron, who was unable to catch up to Cristian Zapata. The AC Milan defender met Cardona's cross and fired a low volley past the helpless Brad Guzan.
The USA's best chances came off set pieces -- Dempsey's header that was cleared off the line by Sebastian Perez in the 60th minute and his free kick that keeper David Ospina pushed away four minutes later -- but that was only after it wasted three free kicks in dangerous positions in the first half.
3. Opening loss is bad omen.
The USA dug itself a big hole with the loss to Colombia. Only once has the USA played in a major tournament and advanced out of the group stage after losing its opening game. And in that case -- the 2009 Confederations Cup -- it lost its first two games -- 3-1 to Italy and 3-0 to Brazil -- before beating Egypt, 3-0, and miraculously advancing when it got help from Brazil, a 3-0 winner over Italy.
At the World Cup in 1950, 1990, 1998 and 2006, Confederation Cup in 2003 and Copa America in 1993 and 2007, the USA lost its opening game and failed to advance. Indeed, it only won one game in those seven tournaments -- the 1-0 win over England in Belo Horizonte in 1950.
The good news for the USA is that its two next games -- Costa Rica on Tuesday in Chicago and then Paraguay on Saturday in in Philadelphia -- are eminently winnable. It would be a debacle if the USA failed to win at least one of those games.