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Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis

June 7, 2016
USA will try to buck history after opening loss

Captain Michael Bradley and his USA teammates will try for a win, or at least a tie against Costa Rica to keep their Copa America Centenario hopes alive.
Captain Michael Bradley and his USA teammates will try for a win, or at least a tie against Costa Rica to keep their Copa America Centenario hopes alive.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Michael Lewis Editor

So, just how difficult is it to bounce back from an opening loss in a tournament and reach the next round?




Yeah, it's certainly not an easy path.

But enough with the descriptive words. Let's go to the facts.

The Americans have put themselves in a hole after that disappointing 2-0 defeat to Colombia in the Copa America Centenario opener Friday night. The question is whether they can get out of it?

When the United States has lost the opening game of a major international competition (World Cup, FIFA Confederations Cup and Copa America), it has reached the next round only once in it matches. The only exception was the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa, where the Americans needed a 3-0 win over Egypt in its final group match and a 3-0 victory by Brazil over Italy and it got exactly that.

In chronological order, here is a history of how the USA has fared when losing its opening group-stage game:

* 1950 World Cup -- 3-1 loss to Spain in Brazil on June 25, 1950. Failed to get out of the group.

* 1990 World Cup -- 5-1 defeat to Czechoslovakia on June 10, 1990. Did not get out of the group.

* 1992 FIFA Confederations Cup -- 3-0 setback to Saudi Arabia on Oct. 15, 1992. Did not reach the next round.

* 1993 Copa America -- 1-0 loss to Uruguay on June 19, 1993. Failed to qualify for the next round.

* 1998 World Cup -- 2-0 defeat to Germany on June 15, 1998. Did not get out of its group.

* 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup -- 2-1 loss to Turkey on June 19, 2003. Failed to reach the next round.

* 2006 World Cup -- 3-0 setback to the Czech Republic on June 2, 2006. Did not book a spot in the Round of 16.

* 2007 Copa America -- 4-1 loss to Argentina on June 28, 2007. Did not get out of its group.

* 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup -- 3-1 defeat to Italy. Did get out of its group, qualified for the semifinals and reached the final.

When the USA has tied or won its opening match, it always has advanced to the next round. The Americans have a 5-0-2 in such games.

In chronological order, this is how they have fared when they have earned at least a draw in their group opener:

* 1930 World Cup -- 3-0 win over Belgium on July 13, 1930. Advanced to the semifinals.

* 1994 World Cup -- 1-1 tie with Switzerland on June 18, 1994. Reached the Round of 16.

* 1995 Copa America -- 2-1 victory over Chile on July 8, 1995. Advanced to the quarterfinals.

* 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup -- a 2-1 win over New Zealand on July 24, 1999. Booked a spot in the semifinals.

* 2002 World Cup -- 3-2 triumph past Portugal on June 5, 2002. Qualified for the Round of 16 and eventually reached the quarterfinals.

* 2010 World Cup -- 1-1 draw with England on June 12, 2010. Reached the Round of 16.

* 2014 World Cup -- 2-1 win over Ghana on June 16, 2014. Advanced to the Round of 16.

Looking at what transpired in 2009, what the Americans have to accomplish is not impossible, but very, very, very difficult.

They certainly can make it easier on themselves if they get a result against Costa Rica at Soldier Field in Chicago Tuesday night. Even a point will keep their hopes of reaching the quarterfinals alive until Saturday, when they face Paraguay in their third and final group match in Philadelphia.

The best of all possible worlds would be a USA win and Colombia and Paraguay playing to a draw. The foes each would earn one point apiece, putting the Americans in a position to even win the group, at least mathematically.

And the worst-case scenario for Tuesday night?

A USA defeat and a Colombia win would bounce the red, white and blue from the tournament before it has a chance in its third game.

Shudder the thought of the host country getting the boot before it could complete its group stage.
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