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).
- 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.