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LANDOVER, Md. -- The United States men's national team's Copa America preparation got underway with a 5-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday in what's the worst defeat for the team under Gregg Berhalter. After quickfire goals from John Arias and Rafael Santos Borre, the USMNT were able to get a goal back following a good pass from Folarin Balogun to Tim Weah, but it wasn't the start of a comeback as Colombia netted an insurance goal in the 77th minute via Richard Rios. When things were already out of reach, Jorge Carrascal scored a fourth quickly followed by Luis Sinisterra with a fifth for Colombia for good measure. As the USMNT faced their toughest opposition this calendar year in 12th-ranked Colombia, it was a match that still showed that there is a lot of work to do.

This was still a friendly where Berhalter is looking to learn about his team, which is shown by Christian Pulisic being withdrawn at the half for Haji Wright to manage his minutes along with Tim Ream and Weston McKennie both being withdrawn before the end of the match. But with Copa America kicking off on June 21 with a match against Bolivia, improvement is needed and quickly. There will be another friendly on Wednesday, but that will be against an even tougher team in Brazil as the Americans look for momentum. 

How it happened

It couldn't have gotten off to a worse start for the USMNT as an Antonee Robinson clearance fell right to the feet of Arias who lashed a shot right at Matt Turner that was unsavable to open the scoring only six minutes into the match. That was bad enough but only 13 minutes later, after losing the ball on the first phase of a corner kick, a bicycle kick from Santos Borre found the back of the net. They're two goals that in isolation aren't too bad but when combined in the same half, they really put the USMNT behind the ball.

Granted, Balogun was unlucky not to find the back of the net himself and the USMNT attack found good pockets as Gio Reyna found ways out of tight areas but heading into Copa America, just being good isn't going to topple a team like Colombia. These are games when the USMNT need to unlock a new gear but it's one that they haven't shown that they have so far while playing under Berhalter.

This is why they're playing games like this one against top teams in the world but so far it hasn't told us much that we don't already know. Colombia know their identity and that they can lean on the counter attack, but with so many rotations, the USMNT defense looked disjointed. Replacing Sergino Dest is a process but the lack of balance in the USMNT buildup is one of the things lost without his ability on the ball.

In the second half, things didn't get much better with Colombia having multiple chances to push for goals by picking off USMNT defenders. Robinson rarely seemed comfortable dealing with overloads on the left and while the USMNT attack created chances, they didn't do enough to trouble Colombia from counter attacking when they got chances to get forward. All around, while some things can be pinned on the lack of Dest in the build-up, the tentativeness in play so close to a major tournament can only come as a concern.

Copa America is when the USMNT will learn a lot about themselves be it good or bad ahead of 2026, but not cleaning up the mistakes made Saturday in Landover will lead to a swift exit from the tournament.

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