Copa America Centenario got off to a heated start over the weekend as teams did all they could to position themselves for advancement into the tournament's knockout rounds. Six matches took place over three days, as Groups A, B, and C kicked off their first matches of the group stage.
In Group A action, the U.S. Men’s National Team opened up the tournament against Colombia on Friday night in Santa Clara, Calif.
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Colombia’s Christian Zapata set the tone early, giving FIFA’s third-ranked team an early 1-0 lead off a corner kick from Edwin Cardona in the eighth minute. They would double it just before the half, as Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez converted a 40th minute penalty kick that came after a DeAndre Yedlin handball. Colombia would hold their 2-0 lead in the second half, but lost Rodriguez to a shoulder injury. His status for the Group A leaders moving forward remains unclear.
One day later, Costa Rica and Paraguay battled to a 0-0 draw in Orlando in the group's second match. A yellow card issued to Costa Rica's Yeltsin Tejada Valverde yellow card just 22 seconds into the game set the tone for the day, during which the teams combined for five yellow cards and a red card given to Costa Rica’s Kendall Waston in second half stoppage time. Their share of the points was much appreciated by Jurgen Klinsmann's side entering its Tuesday night showdown with the Ticos at Soldier Field.
Teams in Group B struggled to muster much scoring in their #Copa100 openers, netting just one goal among all four teams. Peru and Haiti kicked things off on Saturday evening in Seattle, and it would take an impressive 61st minute Paolo Guerrero diving header to break the deadlock.
Similarly, fans in attendance at a packed Rose Bowl weren't treated to the free-flowing football they may have expected from Group B favorites Brazil and Ecuador, as the two sides combined for just three shots on net in a 0-0 draw -- one in which a disputed refereeing decision along the end line kept Ecuador from taking all three points and joining Peru atop the group.
Over in Group C, Jamaica faced an uphill battle from the very start against Venezuela. Wes Morgan, central defender and captain of Premier League champion Leicester City, began the match on the bench, watching as Venezuela’s Josef Martinez put La Vinotinto in the lead in the 15th minute. Morgan entered the game in the 40th minute, but by then the Reggae Boyz were down to 10 men after a 22nd minute red card was shown to Rodolph Austin. Venezuela held on for the 1-0 victory at Soldier Field.
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Mexico and Uruguay put on a show to end the first weekend of Copa America Centenario, as El Tri bossed the Luis Suarez-less Uruguayans in a 3-1 victory on Sunday night. Rafa Marquez, 37, made his veteran presence felt, netting the game-winning goal in the 85th minute. In what was another physical contest between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL opponents, the two teams combined for six yellow cards and two red cards, which led to a wide open contest with both teams at 10 men from the 73rd minute on.
Venezuela and Mexico sit level atop Group C at three points each.
Group D joins the fray Monday night, with Panama and Bolivia squaring off in Orlando at 6 p.m. CT followed by Argentina-Chile at 9 p.m. Both matches air live on FOX Sports 1.