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U.S. men

Again, Americans waste early lead, fall 2-1 to Colombia in London.

By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

(Friday, November 14, 2014) -- Once again, the United States men failed to protect a one-goal lead and surrendered a pair of goals after intermission, one in the dying minutes, to fall to clearly superior Colombia 2-1 before a venue record for an international with 24,235 tonight in the cozy confines of Fulham’s Craven Cottage next to the River Thames in London.

Showing there are many more Colombians living in the United Kingdom than Americans, the crowd was probably 90 percent for the South Americans, who currently are ranked third in the world rankings of governing body FIFA. The U.S. is No. 23.

Colombian coach José Pékerman had most of his 2014 World Cup squad on the field for this match, including World Cup sensation James Rodríguez. The only regular who seemed to be missing was striker Radamel Falcao.

U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann continues to experiment with younger players to commence the new World Cup cycle. While he used a number of veterans tonight, he was missing, among others, midfielders Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Graham Zusi, and defender Matt Besler. Klinsmann chose to leave home players still involved in the Major League Soccer playoffs. Dempsey had foot surgery and was not available.

The match was extremely one-sided with Colombia running at the U.S. for almost the whole match. It seemed as if the entire second half was played in the U.S. defensive end, mostly in and around the Americans’ penalty area. The U.S. frantically defended, trying to launch counter-attacks, but rarely moving the ball over the center stripe.

In the first half, U.S. striker Jose Altidore converted a penalty kick in the 10th minute, received after a questionable Colombian hand ball in their box. The U.S. made that early lead hold up until the 60th minute when Rodríguez sent a pass toward midfielder James (Teo) Gutierrez, who was in an offside position. Gutierrez did not play the ball, but forward Carlos Bacca ran in front, took the ball wide and scored from a sharp angle.

Columbia netted its winner in the 87th minute when reserve midfielder Edwin Cardona controlled the ball on the right side. After U.S. defender Jermaine Jones laid out to stop one cross, Cardona retrieved the rebound and fed an unmarked Gutierrez who headed it home from near the far post.

One of the U.S. bright lights tonight was 18-year-old Rubio Rubin a striker who plays for Utrecht in the Netherlands. He paired with Altidore and while neither had many touches, both were active and Rubin was certainly not awed by his surroundings. The U.S. closes its 2014 campaign Tuesday against Ireland in Dublin, a 2:45 (ET) start televised by ESPN2.


U.S. Player Ratings

Starters

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan - 6: Made seven saves and had a generally good match. He cannot be faulted on either Colombian goal.

Defender DeAndre Yedlin - 5.5: Did not have a bad first half as a defender. He went forward occasionally and played solid defense, but he did not pass well. In the second half, he was moved to midfield where he played mainly a defensive role.

Defender Jermaine Jones - 6.5: Was again better than adequate in his new role in the center of defense. Helped move the ball forward in the first half and then when the U.S. was under constant pressure in the second half, he made clearance after clearance.

Defender John Brooks - 6: Paired well with Jones and had a steady performance. One major error was seemingly waiting for an offside call that never came on first Colombian goal.

Defender Greg Garza - 6: For the second match in a row, he had a very impressive performance for a young defender.

Midfielder Mix Diskerud - 4.5: It is probably best to say he had an off night and did not play his best either offensively or defensively. Once again, he looked a bit lost on attack, while still making a number of good defensive plays.

Midfielder Kyle Beckerman - 6: In his first post-World Cup start, he made many defensive stops when it was needed.

Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya - 6: He continues to contribute with a high work rate and some real skills. Was the best American attacker.

Midfielder Fabian Johnson - 4: After a poor first half in the midfield, he did somewhat better on defense, but over-ran Gutierrez and allowed him a free header to score the winner.

Forward Rubio Rubin - 5.5: One can’t ask much more of a young player earning his first cap against a quality opponent. He caused the Colombia defense problems and, at time, dropped well back into the defense to make plays.

Forward Jozy Altidore - 6: He showed he plays better when paired with another forward and is not the lone man on top. Again, he showed a high work rate, but did seem to fade late.

Reserves

Midfielder Alfredo Morales (67th minute for Bedoya) - 5.5: Looked solid on defense as the U.S. was constantly pressured in the late going.

Forward Bobby Wood (67th minute for Rubin) - 5.5: He looked better than he has in other appearances. Almost had a goal on the best U.S. effort in the second half.

Defender DaMarcus Beasley (70th minute for Garza) - 5: Was not at his best in the late, tight going. Was not able to add much offensively.

Midfielder Lee Nguyen (78th minute for Diskerud) - 5.5: After a seven-year absence, he was rewarded for his terrific MLS season with this call-up. Made a couple of good plays, but otherwise did not contribute much.

Defender\midfielder Julian Green (86th minute for Yedlin) – NR Could not get over to cover Gutierrez on winning goal. He had little to contribute.

SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Jermaine Jones.


Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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