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US Soccer

USA Defeated 1-0 by Colombia in 2016 Copa America Centenario Third Place Match

GLENDALE, Ariz. (June 25, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team secured a second fourth place finish in its Copa America history after a 1-0 loss to Colombia at University of Phoenix Stadium in the teams’ final match of the 2016 Copa America Centenario.

The USA had to once again shuffle its defense, this time due to injury, as Matt Besler was drafted into the middle alongside Geoff Cameron and Michael Orozco came in at right back. Additionally, veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard saw his first action of the competition, starting in goal in place of No. 1 ‘keeper Brad Guzan.

The reshuffled defense was breached in the 31st minute as Colombia attacked down the right wing before sending the ball into the center of the pitch just outside the U.S. box for James Rodriguez to play in right back Santiago Arias, whose headed pass was bundled across the line by a sliding Carlos Bacca.

While the U.S. had its chances to score in the second half, notably on a Clint Dempsey free kick and a Bobby Wood shot that hit the right post, the Yanks were unable to find the net despite U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann also bringing on attacking talents Christian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe late in the match.

The fourth place finish matches the USA’s best placement in a Copa America tournament, which it last achieved in 1995 in Uruguay.

The team now has two months off before reconvening in September for its final two Semifinal Round 2018 World Cup Qualifying matches. The USA will first travel to St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2 before returning home to face Trinidad & Tobago on Sept. 9 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. [TICKETS]. Fans can also follow the USA’s World Cup Qualifying action on Twitter @ussoccer and @ussoccer_esp.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
COL – Carlos Bacca (Santiago Arias), 31st minute:
After an initial Colombia attack down the right wing was rebuffed, Juan Cuadrado sent the ball into the center of the field for James Rodriguez, who lifted a deft chip over the U.S. defense and into the path of overlapping right back Santiago Arias. Arias headed the ball across the face of goal and Bacca slid in front of his defender to redirect the ball across the goal line for the game’s only strike. USA 0, COL 1 FINAL 

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
Tim Howard, 12th minute:
Colombia attacked down the right hand side often, building on the link between Juan Cuadrado and James Rodriguez, which nearly paid off early in the match as Cuadrado slipped a pass to James in traffic at the top of the U.S. box. The Real Madrid attacker snapped off a powerful shot, but Howard was well positioned and got down quickly to push the shot outside of his left post.

Christian Zapata, 16th minute: On perhaps the USA’s best chance of the opening 45 minutes, Alejandro Bedoya was able to beat his defender to the end line inside the Colombia penalty area. He cut the ball back toward the penalty spot and it arrived at Clint Dempsey’s feet at the top left corner of the six-yard box. Dempsey attempted a one-time redirect on goal, but Zapata slid in from behind just as the ball left Dempsey’s foot to make the crucial block.

David Ospina, 51st minute: In the center of the USA’s offensive third, Dempsey curled a blistering free kick over the Colombia wall from nearly 30 yards out. The shot was post marked for the top right corner of the goal until Ospina made an incredible acrobatic stop, leaping at full stretch to get a hand to the ball and send it over the cross bar.

Next on the Schedule: The U.S. MNT returns to action in September with a final pair of Semifinal Round World Cup Qualifying games. First the USA heads to St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2 before returning home to face Trinidad & Tobago at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., on Sept. 9.

Broadcast information: TBA
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer@ussoccer_esp); FacebookInstagram

Additional Notes:

  • Geoff Cameron was the only player to play every minute of the 2016 Copa America Centenario for the USA, a total of 640 minutes.
  • Four players started in all five matches in the 2016 Copa America Centenario: Michael Bradley, Cameron, Clint Dempsey and Gyasi Zardes.
  • Dempsey’s three assists could see him finish tops in that statistical category among all players for the tournament.
  • Michael Orozco made his first start of the tournament in tonight’s match; it was his second appearance of the competition.

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Colombia
Date: June 25, 2016
Competition: 2016 Copa America Centenario - Third Place Match
Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Ariz.
Kickoff: 5 p.m. PT
Attendance: 29,041
Weather: 110 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:    1          2          F
USA                             0          0          0         
COL                             1          0          1

COL – Carlos Bacca (Santiago Arias)                        31st minute

Lineups:
USA: 12-Tim Howard; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 20-Geoff Cameron, 5-Matt Besler, 14-Michael Orozco;  4-Michael Bradley (capt.) (10-Darlington Nagbe, 79), 13-Jermaine Jones, 11-Alejandro Bedoya (17-Christian Pulisic, 74); 9-Gyasi Zardes, 8-Clint Dempsey, 7-Bobby Wood
Subs not used:
1-Brad Guzan, 3-Steve Birnbaum, 6-John Brooks, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 16-Perry Kitchen, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 19-Graham Zusi, 21-Edgar Castillo, 22-Ethan Horvath, 23-Fabian Johnson
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

COL: 1-David Ospina; 18-Frank Fabra, 22-Jeison Murillo, 2-Cristian Zapata, 4-Santiago Arias; 5-Guillermo Celis (15-Stegan Medina, 86), 16-Daniel Torres, 10-James Rodriguez, 8-Edwin Cardona, 11-Juan Cuadrado (21-Marlos Moreno, 74); 7-Carlos Bacca (9-Roger Martinez, 79)
Subs not used: 3-Yerry Mina, 6-Carlos Sanchez, 12-Robinson Zapata, 13-Sebastian Perez, 14-Felipe Aguilar, 17-Dayro Moreno, 19-Farid Diaz, 20-Andres Felipe Roa,23-Cristian Bonilla
Head coach: Jose Pekerman

Stats Summary: USA / COL
Shots: 10  / 10
Shots on Goal: 3 / 3
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 4 / 8
Fouls: 14 / 13
Offside: 1 / 5

Misconduct Summary:
COL - Jeison Murillo (caution)                     13th minute
USA - Matt Besler (caution)                          22
COL - Juan Cuadrado (caution)                     73
USA - Michael Orozco (caution)                     87
COL - Santiago Arias (caution)                      90+5
COL - Santiago Arias (sent off)                      90+5
USA - Michael Orozco (sent off)                    90+5

Officials:
Referee: Daniel Fedorczuk (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Richard Trinidad (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Luis Sanchez (VEN)
4th Official: Yadel Martinez (CUB)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Geoff Cameron

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MNT Jun 25, 2016

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Colombia
Date: June 25, 2016
Competition: 2016 Copa America Centenario - Third Place Match
Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Ariz.
Kickoff: 5 p.m. PT
Attendance: 29,041
Weather: 110 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:    1          2          F
USA                             0          0          0         
COL                             1          0          1

COL – Carlos Bacca (Santiago Arias)                        31st minute

Lineups:
USA: 12-Tim Howard; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 20-Geoff Cameron, 5-Matt Besler, 14-Michael Orozco;  4-Michael Bradley (capt.) (10-Darlington Nagbe, 79), 13-Jermaine Jones, 11-Alejandro Bedoya (17-Christian Pulisic, 74); 9-Gyasi Zardes, 8-Clint Dempsey, 7-Bobby Wood
Subs not used: 1-Brad Guzan, 3-Steve Birnbaum, 6-John Brooks, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 16-Perry Kitchen, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 19-Graham Zusi, 21-Edgar Castillo, 22-Ethan Horvath, 23-Fabian Johnson
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

COL: 1-David Ospina; 18-Frank Fabra, 22-Jeison Murillo, 2-Cristian Zapata, 4-Santiago Arias; 5-Guillermo Celis (15-Stegan Medina, 86), 16-Daniel Torres, 10-James Rodriguez, 8-Edwin Cardona, 11-Juan Cuadrado (21-Marlos Moreno, 74); 7-Carlos Bacca (9-Roger Martinez, 79)
Subs not used: 3-Yerry Mina, 6-Carlos Sanchez, 12-Robinson Zapata, 13-Sebastian Perez, 14-Felipe Aguilar, 17-Dayro Moreno, 19-Farid Diaz, 20-Andres Felipe Roa,23-Cristian Bonilla
Head coach: Jose Pekerman

Stats Summary: USA / COL
Shots: 10  / 10
Shots on Goal: 3 / 3
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 4 / 8
Fouls: 14 / 13
Offside: 1 / 5

Misconduct Summary:

COL - Jeison Murillo (caution)                      13th minute
USA - Matt Besler (caution)                          22
COL - Juan Cuadrado (caution)                     73
USA - Michael Orozco (caution)                     87
COL - Santiago Arias (caution)                      90+5
COL - Santiago Arias (sent off)                      90+5
USA - Michael Orozco (sent off)                    90+5

Officials:
Referee: Daniel Fedorczuk (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Richard Trinidad (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Luis Sanchez (VEN)
4th Official: Yadel Martinez (CUB)

Budweiser Man of the Match: TBA

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US Soccer

Gallery: U.S. MNT Falls to Colombia 1-0 in Copa America Centenario Third Place Match

The U.S. Men’s National Team secured a second fourth place finish in its Copa America history after a 1-0 loss to Colombia at University of Phoenix Stadium in the teams’ final match of the 2016 Copa America Centenario. The team now has two months off before reconvening in September for its final two Semifinal Round 2018 World Cup Qualifying matches. The USA will first travel to St. Vin Read more
MNT Jun 27, 2016
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USA Defeated 1-0 by Colombia in 2016 Copa America Centenario Third Place Match

GLENDALE, Ariz. (June 25, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team secured a second fourth place finish in its Copa America history after a 1-0 loss to Colombia at University of Phoenix Stadium in the teams’ final match of the 2016 Copa America Centenario. The USA had to once again shuffle its defense, this time due to injury, as Matt Besler was drafted into the middle alongside Geof Read more
MNT Jun 25, 2016
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Lineup Notes: USA vs. Colombia - 2016 Copa America Centenario Third Place Match

U.S. MNT vs. Colombia June 25, 2016 – University of Phoenix Stadium Glendale, Arizona Live Broadcast: FX, Univision, Univision Deportes Network Tonight’s lineup: Tim Howard; DeAndre Yedlin, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler, Michael Orozco; Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya; Bobby Wood, Clint Dempsey, Gyasi Zardes Tim Howard gets the start in goal, set to collect his 10 Read more
MNT Jun 25, 2016

BTC: USA Ready for Rematch with Colombia in Copa America Centenario Third Place Match

The U.S. Men's National Team is set to compete against Colombia for third place in the historic Copa America Centenario. Read more
MNT Jun 25, 2016
US Soccer

How They Got Here: Colombia

Drawn into Group A with the United States, Paraguay and Costa Rica, Colombia's journey through the Copa America Centenario comes full circle with a rematch of their opening day fixture against the U.S.

June 3rd | USA | Santa Clara, California: Los Cafeteros got off to a quick start at Levi's Stadium against the host nation. Eight minutes into the opening match of the tournament, Edwin Cardona picked out Cristian Zapata from a corner kick, who sent a thundering volley past Brad Guzan. As halftime drew near, Colombia were awarded a penalty kick after DeAndre Yedlin handled the ball in the area. Real Madrid's James Rodriguez slotted the ball home and Colombia held off the U.S. in the second half and began the tournament with a 2-0 victory.

Though not playing their best game, Colombia coach Jose Pekerman shouldn't be surprised to see a rematch against the USA. After the game, he had this to say about the MNT.

"I won't say this was a perfect example of their ability, but the U.S. team has evolved from what we saw in Brazil."

June 8th | Paraguay | Pasadena, California: In a match that followed the MNT's 4-0 win against Costa Rica, Colombia knew three points against Paraguay would be enough to qualify for the quarterfinals with a game left to spare. Los Cafeteros again wasted no time finding themselves ahead after a 12th minute strike from Carlos Bacca. James Rodriguez, after an injury scare against the U.S. almost kept him on the sidelines, scored his second goal in as many games to give Colombia a 2-0 lead heading into the break.

Paraguay did manage to make things interesting in the second half, as David Ospina was beaten for the first time all tournament when Victor Ayala scored in the 71st minute. Colombia kept their cool and saw out a 2-1 victory, becoming the first team to reach the Copa America Centenario knockout phase.

June 11th | Costa Rica | Houston, Texas: With first place on the line, Pekerman decided to rest a few starters for their final group stage match against Costa Rica. Needing only a draw to clinch first place, Colombia found themselves down almost immediately when Johan Venegas scored Costa Rica's opening goal of the tournament in the second minute.

Though continuing the theme of early goals for Colombia, Frank Fabra equalized five minutes latet to put the Colombians on top of the group for the time being. But after a Fabra own goal and Celso Borges strike, Colombia were down 3-1 with only 30 minutes left to play. Marlos Moreno brought one back for Los Cafeteros, but Costa Rica were able to hold on for the final 15 minutes, consigning Colombia to second place in the group.

After the match, Pekerman defended his team selection.

"We cannot draw conclusions," the Colombia boss said. "The bet was risky with some guys and we hope it doesn't cost us."

June 17th | Peru | Foxborough, Massachusetts: Pekerman's decision turned out not to be too costly in the end, as Peru upset Brazil in Group C to set up a showdown with Colombia in New England. In a pretty even match, the sides duked it out for 90 minutes and played to a 0-0 draw. In accordance with Copa America rules, the match went straight to penalties.

James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado converted the first two penalties for Colombia as their Peruvian counterparts did the same. On the third kick, David Ospina saved Miguel Trauco's, setting up Sebastian Perez who put Colombia ahead 4-2. Christian Cueva stepped up and hit it over the bar, and Colombia advanced to the semifinals.

June 22nd | Chile | Chicago, Illinois: Fifteen years after their only Copa America triumph, Colombia faced a dangerous Chile side and hoping to make it back to the final for the first time since 2001. Coming off a drab 0-0 draw against Peru, form wasn't exactly in Los Cafeteros' favor. Chile was coming off a 7-0 thumping of Mexico in their quarterfinal and are the defending Copa America champions.

La Roja's scoring form carried over from the start as they took a 2-0 lead within the first 11 minutes. Colombia could not find their scoring boots for the remaining 80 minutes and fell short of repeating their Copa America title-winning performance of 2001.

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MNT Jun 24, 2016
US Soccer

Next Up: Five Things to Know About Colombia

Saturday’s penultimate Copa America Centenario match for third place features the two teams that advanced to the knockout stages from Group A - the U.S. Men's National Team and Colombia. On the opening day of the tournament, Colombia beat the MNT 2-0 in Santa Clara, Calif, but the U.S. ended up topping the group with six points and a +3 goal differential. The match kicks off Saturday, June 25 at 8 p.m. ET (FX, Univision, UDN) at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Before the action gets underway, here are five things to know about Los Cafeteros.

Los Cafeteros Soccer History

The 1990s were arguably the most successful period Colombian soccer has experienced. Los Cafeteros qualified for all three FIFA World Cups during the decade (1990, 1994, 1998), advancing to the Round of 16 in 1990. From there, however, Colombia hit a World Cup draught. They failed to qualify for the 2002, 2006 and 2010 tournaments.

Los Cafeteros returned to the World Cup in 2014, eager to make up for lost time. Colombia won all three of its group stage matches, knocking off Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan with ease while making a name for itself with its choreographed goal celebrations. The Colombians made their first appearance in the quarterfinals, where they fell to host country Brazil.

Colombia has had success in Copa America. Los Cafeteros won the tournament in 2001, and have placed third and fourth twice. In last year’s Copa America, Colombia’s only win in the group stage came against Brazil, where it scored its lone goal of the tournament. Los Cafeteros advanced out of their group, but were eliminated in their next match by Argentina in a penalty shootout.

Colombia vs. MNT

The U.S. MNT has faced Colombia 18 times since their first meeting in 1961. The MNT hasn’t had great success, as its record against them is 3-11-4. Its last win was a 3-0 victory on Mar. 9, 2005, at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Calif. The last time these teams met was on the opening day of Copa America Centenario. Cristian Zapata finished off an Edwin Cardona corner kick in the eighth minute to give Colombia an early lead. Then three minutes before halftime, James Rodriguez converted a penalty to double the lead.

The two have played each other in significant tournament games before, including a FIFA World Cup and multiple Copa Americas. In the 1994 World Cup held in the United States, the MNT famously defeated one of the tournament favorites 2-1 in its second group stage match. 

This summer will not be the first time the teams have met in the third-place match. At the 1995 Copa America in Uruguay, the MNT and Colombia both made it to the semifinals. Both lost their respective match, resulting in a final game for third place. Los Cafeteros won handily, 4-1, and the MNT left Uruguay in fourth, marking its best ever Copa America finish.

The two shared a group at the 2007 Copa America in Venezuela. They squared off in the final group match playing for pride, as no matter the outcome neither team would advance. Colombia claimed a 1-0 win.

Additionally, Alejandro Bedoya’s father and grandfather played soccer professionally in Colombia.

Looking Ahead to Russia

Los Cafeteros are No. 3 in the FIFA /Coca-Cola World Ranking and are currently tied with Chile for third place in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying with 10 points through six matches. In addition to the U.S., Colombia beat fellow CONMEBOL opponents Paraguay and Peru in the group stage and quarterfinals, respectively.

Despite losing to fifth-ranked Chile in the semifinals, a third place finish would be a strong showing for Los Cafeteros especially headed into a pivotal matches this September in World Cup Qualifying. Colombia host Venezuela who are coming off a surprising quarterfinals finish this summer before heading deep into the Amazon to play Brazil in Manaus.

Who to Watch

Colombia boasts players from many of the world’s top leagues and is one of the Centenario’s most talented teams. In charge of its prolific offense are midfielder James Rodriguez and forward Carlos Bacca who have combined to score three goals in the competition.

Over the past two years, the 24-year-old Rodriguez has become one of the game’s top offensive threats. He burst onto the scene during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, finishing the tournament with six goals, earning the Golden Boot for most goals scored and Puskas Award for most outstanding goal in the tournament. After the World Cup, he joined Real Madrid. He’s made 78 appearances for one of the titans of club soccer, netting 25 goals. In total, he’s scored 16 times in 47 appearances for his country including twice this summer. He scored from the spot against the U.S. and scored the game winning goal against Paraguay.

Outside of Colombia, Bacca suits up for AC Milan in Italy. Last season for Milan, he scored 18 goals in 36 matches. He was effective in Colombia’s recent World Cup qualifiers as well, scoring three times in six outings and added the opening goal in the group stage victory over Paraguay.  

Arsenal shot stopper David Ospina has been instrumental in Colombia's success this tournament. He kept a clean sheet in the opening match against the U.S. and then made a huge save during the penalty shootout against Peru in the quarterfinals.

The Country and Culture                                                                             

With more than 46,000,000 citizens, Colombia has the second largest population in South America. Located in the northwest corner of the continent, it is the only country in the region with both a Pacific and Caribbean coast.

The Andes, the longest mountain range in the world, begin in Colombia. In addition, the country is home to a substantial portion of the Amazon Rainforest.

Colombia’s chief export is coffee, and it is one of the top five coffee producing countries in the world. Much of the country’s coffee is grown on its mountain slopes. Colombian coffees differ in flavor from region to region because the country contains so many unique microclimates.

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MNT Jun 24, 2016
US Soccer

Match Preview: USA vs. Colombia | Copa America Third Place

A rematch of the tournament opener is on tap as the United States squares off against third-ranked Colombia for third place in the historic Copa America Centenario. Kickoff at University of Phoenix Stadium is set for 8 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on FX, Univision and UDN.

WE MEET AGAIN: It’s been three weeks since a set piece and a penalty decided the first meeting as Colombia collected a 2-0 win to begin Group A play. The U.S. went on post consecutive shutouts against Costa Rica and Paraguay, securing first place in the group. After recording its third straight clean sheet in the 1-0 win against Ecuador in the quarterfinal, the USA became the lone CONCACAF representative in the final four.

U.S. Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), 12-Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), 22-Ethan Horvath (Molde IK)

DEFENDERS (8): 5-Matt Besler (Sporting KC), 3-Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), 6-John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), 20-Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), 21-Edgar Castillo (Monterrey), 23-Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), 14-Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), 2-DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)

MIDFIELDERS/FORWARDS (12): 15-Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), 11-Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), 4-Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), 8-Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), 13-Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), 16-Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), 10-Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), 17-Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), 18-Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), 7-Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV), 20-Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), 19-Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)

FULL STRENGTH: The U.S. will have all its players available for selection as Alejandro Bedoya, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Wood return from suspension. Jurgen Klinsmann told reporters Sunday that he will deploy “the strongest team possible” in what is another huge game for the MNT.

DEUCE ON THE LOOSE: Dempsey opened the scoring in three straight matches during the MNT’s run to the semifinal, including the game winners against Costa Rica and Paraguay to cap off the group stage. His latest goal was the 52nd of his international career, leaving him five shy of Landon Donovan's all-time record (57). He has three goals and three assists through five games, and has been involved in six of the teams seven goals in the tournament.

ZARDES ON TARGET: The first goal for Gyasi Zardes in the Copa America Centenario couldn't have come at a better time. His finish in the 65th minute proved to be the goal that pushed the U.S. past Ecuador in the quarterfinals. The finish was his sixth of his international career.

KLINSMANN FACT FILE: With a 9-3-0 record in 2016, Klinsmann now has 52 career victories to his credit, good for second most on the USA’s all-time list. His .690 winning percentage in official competition, making him the all-time leader amongst MNT coaches. In May, Jurgen Klinsmann set a goal of reaching the Copa America Centenario semifinals. Having reached the final four, he's aiming to guide the U.S. to even greater heights.

THE BEDOYA FAMILY BUSINESS: Alejandro Bedoya has quite the family history with football. Born to Colombian parents, both his father and grandfather played soccer professionally in Colombia. They have had a huge influence on his life both on and off the field.

UP FOR IT: Having reached the Third Place match for the second time in four appearances in Copa America, the U.S. has an impressive record when reaching this stage of a tournament, going 4-1-1 dating back to 1992. It also includes a loss to Colombia in this same scenario, during the 1995 Copa America. Meantime, the Colombians played in the Third Place Match the first three times it was included in Copa America tournaments and won each time (1987, 1993, 1995).

VS. COLOMBIA

  • The U.S. has faced Colombia 17 times, first playing in 1961. The MNT hasn’t had great success, as its record against them is 3-11-4. Its last win was a 3-0 victory on Mar. 9, 2005, in Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Calif.
  • The two have played each other in significant tournament games before, including a FIFA World Cup and multiple Copa Americas. In the 1994 World Cup held in the United States, the MNT famously defeated one of the tournament favorites 2-1 in its second group stage match.
  • A year later at the 1995 Copa America in Uruguay, the MNT and Colombia both made it to the semifinals. Each lost their respective match, so they played with third place on the line. Los Cafeteros won handily, 4-1, and the MNT left Uruguay in fourth, its best ever Copa America

LOS CAFETEROS ON THE RISE: Los Cafeteros returned to the World Cup in 2014 for the first time in more than a decade, eager to make up for lost time. Colombia won all three of its group stage matches, knocking off Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan with ease while making a name for itself with its choreographed goal celebrations. The Colombians made their first appearance in the quarterfinals, where they fell to host country Brazil. 

Colombia has had success in Copa America. Los Cafeteros won the tournament in 2001, and have placed third and fourth twice. In last year’s Copa America, Colombia’s only win in the group stage came against Brazil, where it scored its lone goal of the tournament. Los Cafeteros advanced out of their group, but were eliminated in their next match by Argentina in a penalty shootout.

Colombia are No. 3 in the FIFA /Coca-Cola World Ranking and are currently tied with Chile for third place in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying with 10 points through six matches.

WHO TO WATCH: Colombia boasts players from many of the world’s top leagues and is one of the Centenario’s most talented teams. In charge of its prolific offense are midfielder James Rodriguez and forward Carlos Bacca.

Over the past two years, the 24-year-old Rodriguez has become one of the game’s top offensive threats. He burst onto the scene during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, finishing the tournament with six goals, earning the Golden Boot for most goals scored and Puskas Award for most outstanding goal in the tournament. In total, he’s scored 14 times in 42 appearances for his country.

After the World Cup, he joined Real Madrid. He’s made 78 appearances for one of the titans of club soccer, netting 25 goals. 

Outside of Colombia, Bacca suits up for AC Milan in Italy. Heading into the Centenario, the Puerto Colombia, Colombia native looks the part of a dangerous forward. Last season for Milan, he scored 18 goals in 36 matches. He was effective in Colombia’s recent World Cup qualifiers as well, scoring three times in six outings.

ROUGH STUFF: While the Colombian team is praised for their skill and attacking prowess, they are equally admonished for a physical style of play that at times borders on reckless. Many countries – including the United States in the friendly back in 2014 – have been on the receiving end. FIFA World Player of the Year nominee Neymar was victimized in the 2015 Copa America, suffering broken vertebrae after a challenge in their quarterfinal meeting.

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MNT Jun 24, 2016
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