Preview: USMNT vs. Colombia at Craven Cottage

IMAGE, COURTESY MLSSOCCER.COM

by RYAN BRISTER
Staff Writer

The USMNT will take on Colombia at Craven Cottage in London today. More than 22,000 tickets have been sold to see a pair of teams that advanced to the knockout rounds of the World Cup.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad largely resembles the roster that went to the World Cup, with 17 of the 23 players from that squad. Clint Dempsey has stayed with the Sounders and Michael Bradley is recovering from surgery. Brad Guzan is expected to start in Tim Howard’s absence. Chris Wondolowski has been called in for the first time since his infamous miss against Belgium. Older veterans DaMarcus Beasley and Kyle Beckerman are also in the squad, to the surprise of some who thought Klinsmann would focus on the youth.

Lee Nguyen is the only member of the squad who has not previously been called in by Klinsmann. He made three appearances for the USMNT in the 2007 Copa America under Bob Bradley, but hasn’t been a part of the national team since. After bouncing around in Europe and Vietnam, Nguyen has come into his own with the New England Revolution in Major League Soccer. He’s scored 20 goals for the Revs this year, and is a candidate for MVP.

Nguyen, teammate Jermaine Jones, and DeAndre Yedlin are the only MLS players in the squad whose teams are still alive in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see if Klinsmann continues to experiment with Jones playing center back, as he did against Honduras in October.

To that end, 18-year-old Rubio Rubin can make his first appearance for the national team. The same holds true for Stanford sophomore Jordan Morris. Bobby Wood, Greg Garza, and Minnesota United’s Miguel Ibarra are among the young players who have gotten a look from Klinsmann in recent friendlies.

Jose Pekerman’s Colombia squad features 14 of the 23 players who went to the quarterfinals in Brazil. Radamel Falcao is not in the squad; he is battling a calf injury. Even without him, it’s a talented roster that features Real Madrid star James Rodriguez, who stole the show at this past summer’s World Cup. In contrast to the U.S. roster, every player in Colombia’s squad is under 31 years old.

Since the World Cup, Colombia has played three friendlies, all in the US. They lost to Brazil in Miami, and won over Honduras and Canada at Red Bull Arena. On Tuesday, Colombia will play in Slovenia.

The U.S. is 1-0-2 in three friendlies since the World Cup. After winning in the Czech Republic, they conceded late goals in home draws against Ecuador and Honduras. After facing Colombia, the U.S. will head to Ireland for a friendly on Tuesday.

Prediction:

I think Colombia will win today, and by multiple goals. The USMNT hasn’t been at its best in the three post-Brazil friendlies, and those were against much less talented teams than Colombia. James Rodriguez will be the most talented player on the pitch, and there’s not much reason to believe that the U.S. can contain him and the rest of Colombia’s attack given their recent form.