The Americans had entered the day in first in Group A but settled for going through as a third-place finisher in the U-17 World Cup.
U.S. Soccer needed a dose of good news after the senior men's national team's failure to qualify for the World Cup, but the U-17s weren't fully able to deliver it.
John Hackworth's side is on to the knockout stage of the U-17 World Cup, but as a third-place finisher and not a group winner after a 3-1 loss to Colombia in India on Thursday. George Acosta delivered a first-half equalizer, but Colombia dominated the second half, scoring goals on Juan Peñaloza's sensational free kick and Deiber Caicedo's 87th-minute insurance strike. The last goal proved vital, as it forced Colombia and the USA level on points, goal differential and goals scored. That, coupled with Ghana's 4-0 win over India, shot the African side to first in Group A and allowed Colombia to overtake the USA. The result is a tougher round-of-16 opponent and one or two fewer days rest before the knockout stage begins.
The USA entered Thursday as winners of two straight at the World Cup, beating India 3-0 before edging Ghana 1-0.
For Acosta, the goal struck home, as his father is Colombian. It was a well-taken finish in the 24th minute after an assist from Atlanta United's Andrew Carleton, who returned the favor for Acosta after being set up by him for a goal vs. India.
That reprieve didn't hold, though, and Peñaloza made the USA pay from a tight angle, curling in the eventual game-winner in the 67th minute.
Colombia's opener came off a poor U.S. defensive sequence in the third minute, with Juan Vidal pouncing from close range.
The Americans await the word of who they will play in the first knockout game. The options are either Group B winner Paraguay, or the winner of Group C, which is likely to be Iran but could mathematically still be Germany.