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What we learned from the USMNT’s massive flop against Colombia

The United States failed their first test of the summer in a 5-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday.

5 min read

LANDOVER, Md. — Colombia crushed the U.S. men’s national team 5-1 on Saturday evening at Commanders Field in front of more than 55,000 fans, most of them in yellow supporting Los Cafeteros

What did we learn from the dispiriting defeat? And what did key USMNT figures have to say after the match?

Let’s dive into the United States’ first taste of a huge summer.

U.S. punished for its mistakes 

An unlucky deflection by Antonee Robinson while attempting to intercept a pass triggered Colombia’s first goal, while individual mistakes and sloppiness in possession led to all but one of the others. The U.S. were punished and buried 5-1 by a clinical opponent. 

“We’re not framing it as a lesson learned, we’re actually framing it as a wake up call. Really poor performance against a top team. I think if you give – or I know – if you give a team like that, the opportunities that we gave him, you’re gonna have no chance to win. It’s never going to happen,” Gregg Berhalter said postgame. 

“The only thing we can really use today as is a wake up call,” Robinson said.

Matt Turner echoed both of them. “We shouldn’t be having results like that… at the end of the day, it’s the first of a long summer. Ideally, we use this experience as a wake up call.”

The U.S. was behind 2-1, and building some momentum shortly after Tim Weah’s goal, yet understandably stuck to their load management plan when Berhalter subbed off Gio Reyna and Tim Ream in the 62nd minute. Christian Pulisic had already been pulled at halftime. The result wasn’t the priority, clearly, but what followed the substitutions in the second half was very alarming. 

“I think we lost cohesion when we made all those subs. That was when the wheel started to fall off a little bit,” Berhalter told the media after the game. 

Still, despite the missing chemistry late in the match, this was not your traditional, disjointed finish to a friendly due to waves of substitutions. It was calamitous.  

“From the 75th minute on, I think it was a lack of respect for our opponent, the game of soccer, what we were doing,” Berhalter said. “I think the sad thing is it overshadows how we got back into the game, how we were aggressive, how we had them on their heels, and they were struggling for a moment when it was 2-1. And we weren’t able to capitalize on it, and then the game went to pieces late in the match.”

“I think we had done well to get ourselves back in the game in the second half, and then a couple of changes later, I feel like we kind of just lost the game plan,” Robinson said. “We were doing things that we don’t normally do, we were losing the ball in areas that were far too open.” 

The U.S. was aware of how dangerous Colombia could be in transition, yet they tempted fate too often. “Our whole idea was the space has got to be small. If you make the space big, you’re in trouble. And you saw that, as soon as we opened it up, it was lights out,” Berhalter said.

Pulisic also lamented how the U.S. constantly stumbled into Colombia’s trap. “How open we were playing in this game – I don’t know, it just felt like they were waiting for us to make a mistake and just killed us in transition, and that’s what happened over and over again.” 

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