Recap: USMNT 1–2 Colombia

In an entertaining and open match, the U.S. fell to Colombia, 2–1, in London. While Colombia dominated for long stretches, the U.S. could have pulled the upset with better finishing from its young forwards, and Colombia did not make the game theirs until the 86th minute.

First half

The lineup contained two surprises: a two-forward formation (specifically, 4-1-3-2, though occasionally looking like 5-5, or the W-M, of all things), and the name of the second forward—Rubio Rubin. Eligible for both Mexico and the U.S., Rubin was previously uncapped by the U.S. Fabian Johnson also again played in midfield, while John Brooks partnered Jermaine Jones in defense, rather than Matt Besler or Omar Gonzalez

The game settled into an obvious pattern almost immediately, with Colombia looking to play only one way—fast. Every time Colombia gained possession, usually through a U.S. turnover, the team broke upfield with pace and one-touch passing. However, the U.S. did well to get men behind the ball and Colombia had few good opportunities early on.

And then the U.S. did what every underdog looks to do—steal a goal from a set piece. Altidore was fouled outside the Colombia box on the U.S. right-hand side. The kick was taken quickly, with Alejandro Bedoya getting into the Colombia box. His cross was blocked out for a corner. On the ensuing kick, also from Bedoya, Rubin challenged with Pablo Armero, who was off-balance as he leapt for the ball, and stretched out a hand to block the ball away. He thought he was fouled, but the ref pointed to the spot, upholding the call even after conferring with his linesman. Altidore stepped up and slotted the ball past the keeper.

The U.S. struggled to maintain possession, but it was not until the clock approached 20 minutes that Colombia really started stringing passes together, their pressure eventually earning a free kick, which James Rodriquez whistled just past the far post.

By the half-hour mark, Colombian pressure was unrelenting, and only good defending, with Jones looking especially strong, kept the South Americans at bay.

In the 33rd, a bad turnover by Johnson in midfield led to another Colombia break, and after three one-touch passes, Carlos Bacca ripped a shot off the outside of the U.S. post.

The only relief came from Rubin and Altidore winning fouls high up the field, but in the 37th, the U.S. had a great chance to double their lead. Kyle Beckerman found space on the high left to put a left-footed cross into the Colombia six-yard box. Rubin was there, but the ball was just too high for him to direct the ball on net.

The half would end with more penalty drama, as Colombia had the ball in the U.S. box, passed it around, and sent in a hard shot, which rebounded back out off of Jones. Replays showed (and Colombia claimed) that the ball hit Jones’s hand away from his body, and likely should have been a penalty. Perhaps the pace with which the ball was struck, and from a close distance to Jones, swayed the ref, as he waved play on, and the half ended with the U.S. in front.

Second half

The second half began with more of the same, but the U.S. should have pulled further ahead in the 47th. Yedlin had moved into midfield, with Johnson taking his place at right back. A good run from Yedlin carried the ball into the center of the field, and he sprayed the ball wide to Bedoya on the left. Bedoya cut inside and sent an enticing ball to the back post; Rubin was there and should have gotten the U.S.’s second. He could only head it narrowly wide.

And then the Colombian onslaught began. Any U.S. turnover, in any part of the field, it seemed, led directly to a dangerous break attempt. In the 59th, Jones managed a header on target, but only moments later, Colombia had their equalizer. A Rubin turnover in midfield led to neat, one-touch interplay by Colombia outside the U.S. box. The ball was played in to an offside player who looked to play the ball but stopped. Meanwhile, Carlos Bacca ran onto the ball from an onside position, took the ball past the onrushing Guzan, and scored. Many refs would have called the play dead for offsides, and Beckerman may have been impeded, as well, but it would be harsh to say Colombia didn’t deserve a goal.

And Colombia would search and search for a second, time and again getting shooting opportunities, though mostly from outside the box. Still, Guzan had to make at least five saves and catches over the next 30 minutes.

But the U.S. would have chances. Bobby Wood, replacing Rubin in the 67th, had an immediate impact, ripping a shot from the tightest of angles in the 68th, the keeper forced to make a save and paddling the ball away.

While the U.S. continued to weather the storm, DaMarcus Beasley, Alfredo Morales, and Lee Nguyen all came on, and the three would combine to give the U.S. its best opportunity of the game. Beasley carried the ball forward out of defense. He passed straight up to Nguyen, who one-touched a backheel into the path of Morales, who played another one-timer in front of the run of Wood, who was one-on-one with the keeper. His first-time shot was unfortunately saved. It was an excellent move undone by good goalkeeping and not quite enough class on the finish.

Colombia would get the goal their pressure deserved in the 87th, with Teo Gutierrez popping up for a backpost header after more good play around the U.S. box. In the end, the U.S. simply could not do enough to slow down the constant movement and sharp passing of the Colombians, and gave up a second shot in a prime area.

U.S. verdict

Rubio Rubin looks good: Rubin plays much older than his 18 years would belie, and while his finishing let him down, he consistently got into good positions. He also won fouls in dangerous areas with his hold-up play.

The Jones at CB experiment not looking so experimental: Jermaine Jones was everywhere, especially in the first half, looking immense defensively, and a vocal leader.

Is Alejandro Bedoya the U.S.’s best player? One would be hard-pressed to name someone playing better. He does more good things and fewer bad things than just about anyone, and plays two ways. He could have had an assist tonight, and was constantly tracking back defensively.

Lee Nguyen needs to play another NT game, and soon: He only got a few minutes really, but showed a lot in that time. His backheel made for the prettiest U.S. move on the night, and could have changed the game. He’ll likely play against Ireland, of course, but should be invited back for the January camp, at the very least.

Final thoughts

While the late goal is disappointing, the U.S. did well for much of the game, and had moments of real possibility. Another day and this game is a draw or U.S. win, even if Colombia were deserved winners on this one.

1-Brad Guzan; 2-DeAndre Yedlin (16-Julian Green, 86), 13-Jermaine Jones, 6-John Brooks, 3-Greg Garza (7-DaMarcus Beasley, 70); 15-Kyle Beckerman; 11-Alejandro Bedoya (4-Alfredo Morales, 67), 10-Mix Diskerud (8-Lee Nguyen, 78), 23-Fabian Johnson; 17-Jozy Altidore (capt.), 9-Rubio Rubin (19-Bobby Wood, 67)
Subs Not Used: 5-Matt Besler, 12-Nick Rimando, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 20-Geoff Cameron, 21-Timmy Chandler
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

12-Camilo Vargas; 3 -Pedro Franco, 4-Santiago Arias, 7-Pablo Armero, 23-Jeison Murillo; 6-Carlos Sanchez, 8-Abel Aguilar (27-Edwin Cardona, 74), 11-Juan Cuadrado (15-Juan Quintero, 89), 10-James Rodriguez (capt.); 17- Carlos Bacca (20-Adrian Ramos, 79), 19-Teofilo Gutierrez (21-Jackson Martinez, 89)
Subs Not Used: 1- Leandro Castellanos, 2-Cristian Zapata, 14-Yimmi Chara, 16-Eder Balanta, 22-Jose Cuadrado, 24-Daniel Bocanegra, 25-Alexander Mejia, 26-Carlos Carbonero, 28-Brayan Angulo
Head Coach: José Pékerman

Scoring Summary
USA: Jozy Altidore (penalty) — 10th minute
COL: Carlos Bacca (James Rodriguez) — 60
COL: Teofilo Gutierrez (Edwin Cardona) — 87

Disciplinary Summary
COL: Abel Aguilar (caution) — 29th minute
USA: Jozy Altidore (caution) — 35

Stats Summary (USA / COL)
Shots: 7 / 16
Shots on Goal: 4 / 9
Saves: 7 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 8
Fouls: 12 / 13
Offside: 0 / 3

Referee: Szymon Marciniak (POL)
Assistant Referee 1: Stuart Burt (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Darren England (ENG)
4th Official: Lee Probert (ENG)

Attendance: 24,235
Weather: 52 degrees, clear


  1. Solid effort from Jones, Brooks, Garza, Altidore. Rubin was fair. Bedoya strong.

    From my vantage point what we seemed to learn is that Diskerud actually may not be the solution in the 10 against quality opponents. Maybe Nguyen is– as he accomplished more in 11 minutes than the man he subbed for did in 79 minutes- quick with the ball, played it forward, carried it well and then was never able to touch it again.
    Granted, it is obvious the Colombians tightened the neck tie in second half but Diskerud was ineffective in the first 45 as well. I think every ball he played was a currying of responsibility to someone else. When we had possession he seemed out of position. He made no forward movement with the ball in the neutral part of the field. Meh. Was hoping for more out of him tonight. A golden opportunity to dictate play and pace and show an idea or two.
    We have so much to learn in the midfield- why oh why are we so hellbent on going forward all the time. Over and over the Columbians cycle the ball and we just push push push. I am dead set on the breath of fresh air some american player someday is going to bring when he introduces his teammates to ‘La Pausa’.
    And as for Master Yedlin were it not for the speed you would be an afterthought. We are fascinated with the offensive outside back and I understand that as it is the ‘vogue’ requirement but boy that young man makes so many mistakes. If it is all about upside then I guess we just have to wait and see.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Yeah thought Nguyen was solid. Hope he sees more time vs Ireland. That little flick pass that set up the late chance was world class.
      I believe it was Twellman who made a comment during the game about Klinsmann not being settled being a RB. It will be interesting to see of he can develop, and what he might develop into, at Tottenham.

  2. While our possession is worrisome, JK is multitasking these last few games. A healthy MB with Mix will be better. Nguyen ‘ s absence Tuesday is overcome by his chance to help NER & his MVP cause – big confidence boosters. 2015 shapes up to be a fascinating year as tbe post – LD era of USMNT begins.

    • What do you make of the multiple sources that claim JK really has no tactical know-how? I’ve read it in a few places by different people and of course their was Philip Lahm’s scathing criticism basically calling him a physio-dunderhead. You know Philip Lahm, who Pep considers the smartest footballer he’s ever coached.
      I for one had no expectations that we were going to all of a sudden play better and smarter. I appreciate his desire to have us play out of the back- that is an area of necessary improvement.

      • Well, most people ascribe the tactical resurgence of Germany to Joegy Loew, his assistant and now the head coach. So, whether JK has tactical nous or not, he probably needs a smart assistant to really improve things. That said, in the last couple years, he’s made a host of correct tactical decisions, going back to before the Gold Cup, so he’s earned some rope in that area for me.

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