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Copa America: Colombia 2 - 3 Costa Rica - James Comes Off From The Bench

James can't save Colombia.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

With six points in the bag and with Costa Rica playing for nothing (or so it seemed), Jose Pekerman made 10 changes to the side that beat Paraguay 2-1. This meant that stars James Rodríguez and Juan Cuadrado started on the bench, forcing them to look on forlornly as Costa Rica scored a goal in the opening seconds of the match. Colombia managed to hit back quickly, but an unfortunate own goal by Frank Fabra ensured that they had to dig themselves out of a hole in the second half.

This prompted Pekerman to bring on James, causing a roar of approval from the stadium. But while the Real Madrid superstar had a bright dribble and blocked shot with his first touches of the ball, he was unable to make an impact for the majority of the game.

James' initial total ineffectiveness probably had somethign to do with the fact that Costa Rica initally dominated the majority of possession as well as the game.

James' initial ineffectiveness probably had something to do with the fact that Costa Rica initially dominated the majority of possession in the second half as well as the game.

A third Costa Rica goal seemed to have Colombia and James dead and buried, but the introduction of Cuadrado in the 66th minute gave Colombia new life. James began to drop deeper in order to finally get involved in the game, and it paid off in the 72nd minute when he executed a nice one-two and fired a shot straight at the keeper. Only a minute later, Cuadrado made the difference with a good cross that Marlos Moreno buried into the back of the net. With the game seemingly back in the balance, the occasion seemed to be begging for James to light up the night. But it wasn't to be. The attacking midfielder worked hard for the last 10 minutes of the match, dropping deep and trying to connect with his teammates, but he was not able to tangibly create much for his side.

James only truly managed to get into the game from the 75th minute onwards, as demonstrated by the fact that 12 of his 24 passes, 2 of his 4 key passes, and 2 of his 4 shots came from the 75th minute onwards.

He hit a poor free kick into the wall in the 82nd minute, made a delightful long ball that led to a shot a minute later, and followed it up with a strong run which led to an easily saved shot. With time closing fast, James executed three desperate crosses in the 94th minute, but Costa Rica defended well until the final whistle.

Overall it was not a horrible night for James, but he didn't stand out in a moment when his country needed him. Colombia will now play the winner of Group B (which will likely be Brazil) as the United States progress as group winners into the quarterfinals of the Copa America Centenario.

(All statistics & charts taken from the official MLS website)

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