USMNT Faces Heavy Defeat in Copa America Warm-Up Against Colombia

The United States men’s national team began their preparation for the Copa America with a resounding 5-1 loss to Colombia in Landover, Maryland on Saturday. This defeat marks the most significant loss under the tenure of head coach Gregg Berhalter. Quick goals from Colombia’s John Arias and Rafael Santos Borre put the USMNT on the back foot early. Although Tim Weah managed to score for the U.S. after a neat pass from Folarin Balogun, any hopes of a comeback were dashed when Richard Rios added a third goal for Colombia in the 77th minute. Late goals from Jorge Carrascal and Luis Sinisterra sealed the comprehensive victory for the 12th-ranked Colombians.

Despite the result, this friendly match served as a crucial learning experience for Berhalter, who is still assessing his squad. Key players like Christian Pulisic were substituted at halftime to manage their minutes, with Haji Wright coming on as a replacement. Similarly, veterans Tim Ream and Weston McKennie were also withdrawn before the final whistle to preserve their fitness for the upcoming Copa America tournament, which begins on June 21 against Bolivia. The team faces another challenging friendly on Wednesday against Brazil, where they hope to gain some much-needed momentum.

**A Rocky Start**

The match began disastrously for the USMNT, with an early clearance from Antonee Robinson landing at the feet of Arias, who struck a powerful shot past goalkeeper Matt Turner just six minutes in. Things went from bad to worse 13 minutes later when a failed clearance from a corner kick allowed Santos Borre to execute a bicycle kick, doubling Colombia’s lead. These early goals were a significant setback for the U.S. team, who struggled to recover.

Despite these setbacks, Folarin Balogun came close to scoring, and Gio Reyna showed flashes of creativity by navigating tight spaces. However, as the team heads into the Copa America, merely showing potential won’t be enough to challenge top-tier teams like Colombia. The USMNT needs to find an extra gear, a level of performance they have yet to demonstrate consistently under Berhalter’s leadership.

**Learning from Tough Matches**

Playing against world-class teams like Colombia is intended to expose the USMNT to high-level competition and reveal areas needing improvement. However, this match reaffirmed several known issues rather than providing new insights. Colombia’s clear tactical identity and reliance on the counterattack contrasted sharply with the U.S. team’s disjointed defense, which struggled without the ball-handling skills of Sergino Dest.

In the second half, Colombia continued to exploit the USMNT’s defensive vulnerabilities, creating multiple scoring opportunities. Robinson, in particular, seemed uncomfortable dealing with Colombia’s overloads on the left side. While the USMNT managed to create some chances of their own, their inability to convert these opportunities and prevent counterattacks highlighted a lack of cohesion and confidence just weeks before a major tournament.

**Looking Ahead to Copa America**

The upcoming Copa America will be a litmus test for the USMNT, offering a chance to learn valuable lessons ahead of the 2026 World Cup. However, if they fail to address the defensive lapses and overall tentativeness displayed in Saturday’s match, they risk an early exit from the tournament. The team must use these high-profile friendlies not just to gauge their current level but to make tangible improvements in their gameplay.

In summary, the 5-1 loss to Colombia serves as a stark reminder of the work that lies ahead for the USMNT. Berhalter and his team have a short window to rectify their mistakes and build the resilience needed to compete effectively in the Copa America. As they prepare for their next friendly against Brazil, the focus will undoubtedly be on tightening the defense, improving cohesion, and finding that elusive extra gear needed to compete at the highest level.

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