USA 1, Colombia 2 | International Friendly Recap
The US national team enjoyed a 1-0 lead on Colombia, the third-ranked team in the world, for more than half of Friday’s international friendly.
But Jozy Altidore’s 10th-minute penalty kick wasn’t enough, as star-studded Colombia put their foot on the gas late, equalizing on a Carlos Bacca goal in the 60th minute and getting the winner from Teofilo Gutierrez in the 87th minute, in a 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage in London.
It was a rough start to the first of the Yanks' final two matches of 2014, as Jurgen Klinsmann’s side wilted down the stretch against James Rodriguez and Co., the darlings of this summer’s World Cup after advancing to the quarterfinals, in front of a decidedly pro-Colombia crowd.
Klinsmann continued to tinker with his lineup, save for a few regulars such as Altidore up top, Alejandro Bedoya and Fabian Johnson on the wings and Kyle Beckerman and Mix Diskerud in midfield. But with Clint Dempsey sitting this round of friendlies out, alongside Altidore was former Portland Timbers Academy product and Oregon native Rubio Rubin, now of Utrecht, receiving his first cap.
Klinsmann also continued with the experiment of New England Revolution midfielder Jermaine Jones playing in central defense, alongside Hertha Berlin youngster John Brooks and with Tijuana’s Greg Garza on the left, Seattle's DeAndre Yedlin on the right, and Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan on goal.
Revolution playmaker Lee Nguyen also made his first USMNT appearance in seven years, coming on for Diskerud in the 78th minute.
An action-packed – if not a touch sloppy – first half was marked by one handball that was given and one that was not.
In the first decisive moment of the game on a USA corner kick in the eighth minute, referee Szymon Marciniak called Pablo Armero for a handball in the box, delivering a penalty kick to the Americans. Altidore, in desperate need of a goal at any level, stepped up and converted past Colombia goalkeeper Camilo Vargas, who guessed the right way but couldn't get a hand on the hard-hit shot.
Colombia earned the next big chance, also by way of Marciniak’s whistle, when Jones was called for a handball just outside the area in the 21st minute. But Rodriguez’s sizzling free kick sailed just wide.
Colombia then had their most dangerous chance of the first half in the 33rd minute when a bad Fabian Johnson giveaway in midfield led to Rodriguez crossing to Bacca, who fired his shot just off the outside of the right post.
The US answered with a promising chance of their own four minutes later when Beckerman delivered a perfect ball to Rubin, but he couldn’t put his open header on frame.
At the 45-minute mark, Colombia had a decent argument for a penalty kick of their own when a Bacca shot in the box appeared to strike Jones’ arm, but Marciniak let play continue.
The US kicked off the first half on the front foot, nearly doubling their lead on when Rubin narrowly missed on a diving header in the 47th minute after a perfect cross from Bedoya.
But Colombia got back in the game right on the hour mark when Rodriguez played the ball through to Gutierrez, who was in an offside position and appeared to step towards the ball, but let the pass continue on to a charging Bacca, who easily finished into an open goal with the US defense looking on.
- OPTA CHALKBOARD: US hang in for a half, but Colombia attack too hot to handle late on
Colombia continued to put the pressure on, forcing saves from Guzan on successive shots by Carlos Sanchez (65th minute), Gutierrez (65th) and Sanchez again (68th).
Nguyen and fellow substitutes Alfredo Morales and Bobby Wood nearly teamed up for a go-ahead goal in the 81st minute. But it was Vargas who came up big this time, denying Wood one-on-one after a Morales through ball set up by Nguyen's exquisite backheel.
The winner came in the87th, when Edwin Cardona broke free on the right edge of the area and chipped a cross across the face of goal for Gutierrez to nod home.
The US now make the short trip to face Ireland on Tuesday in Dublin for their final game of the 2014 calendar year.