Colombia Thrashes USA in Pre-Copa América Friendly

This last Saturday, June 8, 2024, the USMNT suffered a devastating loss against Colombia in a Copa América preparation international friendly. 

Played at FedExField in Landover, Maryland, the United States suffered a disappointing 5-1 defeat in what is being seen by many as a reality check for coach Gregg Berhalter. It highlighted just how strong the South American teams are and how disastrous this Copa América could be if things are not put in order.

Berhalter went into the game with a conventional 4-3-3 formation, featuring Matt Turner in goal and Chris Richards and Tim Ream as center backs. The defensive backs were Joseph Scally and Antonee Robinson. The midfield trio consisted of Weston McKennie, Johnny, and Gio Reyna. The American attack consisted of Timothy Weah, who scored America’s only goal at 58’, Folarin Balogun, and Christian Pulisic as captain.

United States Soccer Federation, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Colombian team entered the match with a dynamic 4-2-3-1 formation. Coach Néstor Lorenzo set up his team with Johan Mojica and Daniel Muñoz on the sides, Jhon Lucumí and Dávinson Sánchez in the middle, and Camilo Vargas in goal. The midfield saw Jefferson Lerma and Mateus Uribe as defensive mids, while Luis Díaz, James Rodríguez (captain), and Jhon Arias played in front of them. Rafael Borré was positioned as the lone striker.

Federacion Colombiana de Futbol, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

The match was one-sided from the start, with Fluminense star Jhon Arias scoring the first goal at the 6-minute mark, followed by Borré scoring the second at the 19th minute. 

After these quick two goals, the game became more congested, with the United States managing to stem the floodgates and even pull one back through Timothy Weah at the 58th minute.

 Quickly after conceding, Coach Lorenzo made substitutions, bringing on Duran for Borré and Carrascal for Arias. 

The American camp also made changes, with Cameron and Malik subbing in for Gio Reyna and Tim Ream.

As the game progressed, both coaches continued to make changes, with stars such as James Rodríguez, Luis Díaz, and Weston McKennie all coming off. 

These tactical changes proved decisive as Colombia went on to score a third goal at the 77th minute through Richard Rios, and a fourth at the 85th minute by Jorge Carrascal. 

With the game essentially over at 4-1, Colombia added one more nail in the coffin with a fifth goal at the 88th minute, this one by Luis Sinisterra.

The devastating 5-1 result showcased two major issues for the USMNT: America’s lack of ability to construct play in the final third and the massive defensive vulnerabilities that need urgent fixing. 

While the USA did show moments of promise, the 5-1 scoreline starkly highlighted areas requiring immediate attention.

For Gregg Berhalter, this landslide defeat to Colombia needs to serve as a reminder that the level of competition in the Copa América is much higher than that in the Gold Cup. Berhalter must reassess his tactical approach to big games and understand the reality of the team he has and the competition they are in. 

When facing stronger opponents, focusing on defensive solidity and effective counterattacks is crucial. If the USMNT approaches these games thinking they are equal, they will continue to suffer heavy defeats. Understanding and adapting to these realities is essential for future success.

With another tough friendly against Brazil coming up on Wednesday, June 12, the USMNT must regroup and address their weaknesses. 

Learning from the 5-1 defeat to Colombia, the team needs to build confidence and focus on improving both defensively and offensively.

 A strong performance against the five-time World Champions could provide the much-needed momentum heading into Copa América.

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