U.S. Falls 2-1 to Colombia in London

IMAGE, USSOCCER.COM

by RYAN BRISTER
Staff Writer

For the third straight friendly, the USMNT scored first, but was unable to hang on for the win. Two second-half goals gave Colombia a 2-1 victory in front of a pro-Colombia crowd at Craven Cottage in London.

The U.S. took the lead early, with Jozy Altidore scoring a penalty in the 10th minute. Pedro Armero committed an obvious handball in the box, but Colombia complained that he was illegally pushed into it by Rubio Rubin. The call stood, and Altidore lifted his penalty just over a diving Camilo Vargas.

Having fallen behind, Colombia put pressure on the U.S. defense. Carlos Bacca had the first half’s best chance, but fired his shot just off the outside of the post. Colombia had a handball claim of their own waved off near the end of the first half. Jermaine Jones’ arm was away from his body, and it blocked a shot heading on target, but the Polish ref didn’t give Colombia a penalty. The U.S. led 1-0 at the half, but perhaps that score was against the run of play.

Bacca got Colombia’s equalizer in the 60th minute. When the American backline froze in an attempt to play Teo Gutierrez offside, no one followed Bacca, who streaked in and dribbled past Brad Guzan. There was some controversy about whether Gutierrez influenced the play at all, but Colombia’s play deserved a goal.

Lee Nguyen made his first appearance for the USMNT since 2007 when he came on in the 78th minute. He nearly helped create a goal just three minutes later, when his backheel led to a chance for a Bobby Wood. Vargas was alert, quick off his line, and made the save. Nguyen’s limited time on the field was largely spent with his side on the back foot.

Colombia’s pressure paid off with a winner in the 87th minute. James Rodriguez put in a cross towards the back post and Gutierrez won the header over Julian Green. Green was on for DeAndre Yedlin, but it’s obvious that right back doesn’t suit him.

There were bright spots for the U.S., even in the loss. Rubio Rubin, the 18-year-old forward making his first appearance for the national team, had a couple good chances. He sent the header wide both times, but his movement and hold-up play was largely good, especially when you consider his age. Greg Garza continued to impress at left back, but was subbed off after 68 minutes for DaMarcus Beasley.

But it’s hard to take too many positives from the American performance. Mix Diskerud and DeAndre Yedlin regularly gave up possession, and those giveaways often led to chances for Colombia. Fabian Johnson, playing left wing, rarely saw the ball. The experiment with Jermaine Jones at center back shows some promise, but there are kinks that need to be worked out. Early in the cycle, Jurgen Klinsmann has more questions than answers.

The USMNT’s final friendly of the year comes on Tuesday, November 18th as they face the Republic of Ireland at Aviva Stadium