Colombia beat U.S. in Copa America third place match

And the US will need to reflect deeply on its performance to get the most out of its next big tournament: the World Cup 2018 in Russian Federation.

The U.S. matched its previous best finish in the tournament, when it lost to Colombia in the 1995 fourth-place game at Uruguay. The increased defensive understanding paid off, too, with John Brooks and Geoff Cameron forming a strong partnership and the usa not conceding a single goal from open play until the semifinals. And as an unlikely group victor and a deserved 2-1 victor over Ecuador to boot.

Whether that's enough to make the USA the permanent home of a combined North-South American soccer championship remains to be seen; that would require a formal agreement between CONMEBOL, the federation that oversees soccer in South America, and CONCACAF, the governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean.

The most telling result of this match was how far the United States, which wound up fourth in the tournament, is from competing with soccer's global elite.

And so it ended, not with a bang but with a whimper. Now, though, the US has a realistic goal to shoot for.

In the 50th minute, Clint Dempsey hit a great free kick from about 25 yards out.

Despite a second loss of the tournament to Colombia, it was a much improved performance after their hopeless efforts against Argentina in Wednesday's semi-final.

Global soccer often forces you to change your side every game, and Klinsmann is more wont to change his side than most.

Argentina scored again in the 50th minute and in the 85th minute with Messi passing up a clear shot for an assist. Shots and even chances at shots were few and far between.

Of course there will come a time when these two run out of gas, and there are important questions as to whether the adequately prepared for their eventual demise. Even if it is not hosting the event, the US needs a tournament outside of the World Cup that it can count on. That's a perfectly defensible standpoint to take, especially since the likes of Dempsey and Jones are still plainly better than their younger rivals.

Pekerman took over as Colombia's coach in January 2012 and "has overseen a renaissance" with the Colombian national team, according to the Copa America website. He nearly single-handedly beat Costa Rica in the group stage with one of his best performances ever in a USMNT shirt. Nagbe had 49. Steve Birnbaum, the central defender who had been so impressive in early national team appearances, was given a mere 32 minutes. No successors appear to be on the horizon for either player, though, so that leaves Klinsmann little choice but to continue to build the team around veterans. Because it certainly seems as though Klinsmann will be reserving a spot for the Texas native into time immemorial.

While fans gnashed their teeth over Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic's long spells on the bench, wondering when the new players were going to get their chances and why Jurgen Klinsmann wouldn't use them more, a trio of kids were on the pitch. "It's not about age". We've got a lot of things to build on. But with Donovan's recent switch from the studio to the booth, the executive producer of Fox's 2018 World Cup coverage is gushing about his future in the business. But by the time the World Cup rolls around, Dempsey will be 35 and Jones will be 36.

Looking back on the Copa as a whole, Klinsmann set a solid foundation for what his teams should look like for September's World Cup qualifiers against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the upcoming hexagonal round. "It's been a very smooth tournament".

His immediate mission is now to help the Sounders resurrect a season that's quickly tailing away from them. We hit the post and had a couple of missteps in front of goal. Figure prominently in the qualifying cycle? The 23-year-old came into his own at center-back throughout the Copa after a disastrous 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup in which he and Ventura Alvarado looked out of sorts from the start. At times, they even looked good in the process.

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