Clint Dempsey (pictured) attempts a shot in the USA's loss to Colombia in the Copa America Centenario on June 3, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. (Photo: Mexsport)
SANTA CLARA, California -- After suffering a 2-0 loss to Colombia in its Copa America Centenario opener Friday night, the United States faces a “must-not-lose” situation in the second.
The Americans need to avoid defeat against Costa Rica in Chicago on Tuesday to keep their hopes alive of reaching the quarterfinals.
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said that his team will be hungry against its CONCACAF rival, which played Paraguay to scoreless stalemate Saturday.
"We put our back against the wall,” he remarked after the game at Levi’s Stadium. “We need three points against Costa Rica."
Colombia took control in the opening half, scoring off set pieces early (Cristian Zapata’s first international goal in 42 appearances) and late (a James Rodriguez penalty kick). The deficit forced the Americans to chase the game.
"We got punished for two set pieces in the first half, and then against such a quality team it's very difficult…if you don't score the one goal…to get back into the game," expressed Klinsmann.
Once they grabbed the lead, the Colombians worked to keep the U.S. off balance and out of rhythm. Striker Clint Dempsey, the top scorer at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup with seven goals, had the Americans' best three chances, but could not find the back of the net.
"We weren't quite sharp enough or quite quick enough to be able to take some little advantages, or some half chances and really punish them," captain Michael Bradley said. "They were ruthless in terms of their ability to know what the game was going to need and close space and make things very difficult."
The USA is willing chalk up the game to a lesson learned as it looks ahead to Costa Rica, a team to which it has lost in their two meetings.
“Only game one, still two more games to go,” finished Bradley. "We have no choice but to respond in a big way.”
If the required response doesn’t come fruition, an unwelcomed exit is a possible consequence.