USA vs. Peru preview: USMNT in need of a major confidence and morale boost

The much-dreaded return of Michael Bradley to the USMNT fold went about as well as everybody expected it to as the US lost 4-2 against Colombia on Thursday. There were some bright spots from some of the younger players but overall a 4-2 loss is not a good look for a team trying to win back a fan base that is quite obviously checked out on the team (most of the fans at the last three US games have been there supporting the opposing team and the only 280,000 people tuned into the game on FS1). But the Colombia game is now in the rearview mirror and another game against a quality South American opponent awaits as the US gets set to take on Peru.

The play that quite possibly summed up the last five years of Michael Bradley’s play for the US happened on Colombia’s third goal. The US had seemingly done well up to that point: after going 1-0 down thanks to a wonder strike by James Rodriguez, the US tied it up at 1 with an opportunistic finish from close range by Kellyn Acosta and then took the lead at 2-1 with a great counterattacking move that saw Julian Green beautifully tackle the ball away from a Colombian player and send it to Tim Weah, who played an inch-perfect ball in for Bobby Wood to finish. But that was the end of the good feelings for the US as Michael Bradley’s appalling play reared its ugly head yet again. The US turned the ball over and Bradley was about 10 yards ahead of Colombia’s Radamel Falcao (Bradley was in the US half of the field while Falcao was still in the Colombia half). By the time Falcao was inside the 18 yard box, Bradley was a full 10 yards behind him and when Falcao is unmarked, he doesn’t miss. He easily tucked it home and gave Colombia a 3-2 lead. Let that sink in: the US captain having a 10 yard head start on Colombia’s 2nd best player, and just slowly jogging back and failing to mark him, leading to an easy Colombia goal. Falcao ran 60 yards in the same amount of time it took Bradley to run 30. This is the type of play and “veteran leadership” that Dave Sarachan and US Soccer think is vital to the team moving forward. Fantastic.

Peru comes into the game having gone to the World Cup this summer for the first time since 1982. Naturally they were beyond ecstatic. They didn’t make it out of the group (they finished 3rd) but they still gave a good account of themselves. They lost their opener 1-0 to Denmark and then lost their second group game to eventual champions France, also 1-0. By the time of their third group game against Australia, they had already been eliminated but still came out fired up and ready to go and beat the Socceroos 2-0 to register a win at the World Cup for the first time since 1978 (when they beat Iran 4-1). Since the World Cup it’s been kind of a mixed bag. They lost their two September friendlies in Europe (2-1 to the Netherlands in Amsterdam and 2-1 to Germany in Sinsheim) but got a resounding 3-0 win against Chile in Miami on Friday. The Peruvian roster for their two games in the US features a number of players with a solid number of caps but with the odd factor of only one player over the age of 30. Several of these players also ply their trade in the US such as defender Alexander Callens of NYCFC (1 goal in 10 appearances for Peru), midfielder Yoshimar Yotun of Orlando City (2 goals in 79 appearances for Peru), midfielder Andy Polo of the Portland Timbers (1 goal in 18 appearances for Peru), and forward Raul Ruidiaz of the Seattle Sounders (4 goals in 33 appearances for Peru). And while forward Yordy Reyna does play in MLS, he plays in Canada for the Vancouver Whitecaps. He has 2 goals in 19 appearances for Peru.

Notes:
1. This is the 10th US game since missing the World Cup. This is the 5th time in those 10 games that the US is playing a South American opponent.
2. Per US coach Dave Sarachan, there will be significant changes from the Colombia game to the Peru game. On Monday, Sarachan confirmed that Brad Guzan will start in goal over Ethan Horvath (Zack Steffen was released from camp on Saturday with hamstring tightness)
3. As of October 9th, roughly 19,000 tickets have been sold for the Peru game in Hartford.

When and where to watch the game on US TV and streaming

Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Pratt & Whitney Stadium
East Hartford, Connecticut
7:30pm ET
Live on ESPN2, UniMas, Univision Deportes Network, ESPN3, PlayStation Vue and Sling Orange (7-day free trial)

All-Time Series

USA leads series 3-2-1

Last Meeting

September 4, 2015
RFK Stadium
Washington DC
USA 2 – 1 Peru

Current FIFA Ranking

USA: 22
Peru: 21

Next Game

Thursday, November 15, 2018
International Friendly
England vs. USA
Wembley Stadium
London, England

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