As was the case last summer at the 2015 Gold Cup, the US finds itself in the third place game. Unlike last summer however, the US’ defeat in the semi-finals was not a shock result, but an expected drubbing at the hands (or in this case feet) of the best team in the world. Now they try to regroup as they get a chance to end the tournament on a high note against the team they started against: Colombia.
One thing needs to be made very clear. No combination, permutation, formation or iteration of US players on Tuesday would have changed the outcome against Argentina. The blame and accusations being thrown at manager Jurgen Klinsmann are ludicrous and quite frankly out of touch with reality. Argentina had way too much talent and skill and Bobby Wood, Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya were not going to change that. Michael Bradley continues to give balls to the other team like candy on Halloween, Clint Dempsey was practically invisible and Brad Guzan had his worst game in goal in a US shirt. The best player on the field for the US was Gyasi Zardes who was the only player to remotely threaten Sergio Romero in the Argentine goal (who could have read a book on the night). This Copa America has proven that the US is now at a point where it is on par with the bottom and middle tier teams in South America but still has a long way to go to catch the top teams. They do however get one more crack at a top team in this third place game against Colombia.
Colombia’s tournament got off to a great start with an easy 2-0 victory over the US, followed up by a 2-1 win over Paraguay. Then with progression to the quarter-finals locked up, manager Jose Peckerman rested many of his key players resulting in a 3-2 loss to Costa Rica and finishing as runner-up in the group. Colombia hasn’t scored a goal since then, going a scoreless 90 minutes with Peru (winning 4-2 on penalties) and falling 2-0 to Chile in the semi-finals. It remains to be seen if either manager will start a full team or run out the reserves, but Colombia will be missing a key player in Carlos Sanchez who was sent off against Chile, while the US gets Wood, Jones and Bedoya back from suspension.