Colombia eased to a 2-0 win over the United States in the Copa America Centenario curtain-raiser in Santa Clara in the early hours of Saturday.
With the Copa America being staged outside of South America for the first time, there was plenty of hype surrounding USA but the host nation were left silenced as captain James Rodriguez and Cristian Zapata inspired Colombia in the Group A opener at Levi’s Stadium.
Zapata opened the scoring in the eighth minute after latching onto Edwin Cardona’s corner for his first international goal and James – attempting to put a difficult season with Real Madrid behind him having sat out the Champions League final last month – converted a 41st-minute penalty.
However, Colombia – quarter-finalists at last year’s tournament – will be sweating on the fitness of James, who was forced off the field just past the hour-mark due to a shoulder injury, after landing awkwardly.
Jurgen Klinsmann named a full-strength XI, with the same line-up that started the second half of last week’s 4-0 friendly win over Bolivia. Captain Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Brad Guzan and Fabian Johnson headlined the team.
Likewise with Colombia, who called in their big guns for the opening clash after captain James and Edwin Cardona were drafted into the starting line-up as Dayro Moreno and Marlos Moreno made way in the only changes to the side that saw off Haiti 3-1 on Wednesday.
USA barely had a chance to settle, with Colombia threatening every time they went forward and it only took eight minutes for the South American’s made their dominance count.
A teasing delivery from Cardona from a corner kick found Zapata and the centre-back powerfully volleyed home the corner kick to silence an entire nation.
While USA eventually settled their nerves and enjoyed some extended periods of possession, they never troubled goalkeeper David Ospina, with Dempsey’s long-range effort just past the half-hour, which almost curled inside the post, the only real highlight for the home team.
And USA’s evening went from bad to worse four minutes before half-time as James doubled Colombia’s lead from the spot.
Bacca almost added some gloss to the scoreline with 14 minutes remaining but the AC Milan striker rattled the crossbar, not that it impacted the result as USA were left winless from their last six Copa America appearances, dating back to 1995.