The USA (pictured) trains at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on June 24, 2016. (Photo: Mexsport)
GLENDALE, Arizona -- Jermaine Jones can’t think of a better opponent for the United States than Colombia in the Copa America Centenario third-place match on Saturday night.
The veteran hopes the Americans can show they have improved since dropping the tournament opener to the same side on June 3.
"The important thing is that we play Colombia again," stressed the 64-time capped midfielder, who missed the 4-0 semifinal loss to Argentina due a red-card suspension. "Now we can show the people we can play better and do it better. We're going into the game to win."
Jones felt that both of the USA’s losses in the competition were due to the opposition’s quality more than anything else; Colombia (0-2) and Argentina (0-4) are placed third and first, respectively, in the FIFA World Rankings.
"If you look at the teams we lost to, it was Colombia. They have a lot of players playing in Europe and the club [level is] really high," he said. "Argentina, too, so it's two really good teams. All the other teams we showed we can battle; we can beat them."
The U.S. has recorded three win thus far, topping No. 23 Costa Rica (4-0), No. 44 Paraguay (1-0) and No. 13 Ecuador (2-1).
The degree of difficulty became much greater against Argentina in Tuesday’s semifinal, a game in which Lionel Messi, the five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Messi had a goal and two assists.
"It's always tough to play against the next step," Jones noted. "This is Brazil, this is Germany and all the other guys like Colombia."
Having lost to Chile (0-2) in the other semifinal on a rain-soaked Wednesday night, the Colombians have one less day of rest than the Americans.
"There's enough time for both teams in between games," commented U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Are they upset with the result? Absolutely they are. It was a huge game with Chile. But now it is a wonderful opportunity to finish up this tournament on a very high note."
That includes the Americans, whose best Copa finish was fourth in 1995.
"We want to finish it off in really good style," Klinsmann concluded. "Nothing better than to finish things off with a team in the [top] 10 in the world and prove a point that we can compete with them."