Since taking over as head coach for the USMNT in July of 2011, Jurgen Klinsmann has made a point of scheduling tough opponents for international friendlies. He’s scheduled Italy in Genoa, France in Paris, Mexico at Azteca, Belgium in Brussels and Cleveland, and Brazil and Germany in Washington DC. Friday is no different as the USA takes on Colombia, currently ranked 3rd in the FIFA rankings and coming off a run to the quarter-finals at the World Cup this summer.
The release of the USA roster on Monday revealed a few interesting names from Miguel Ibarra of Minnesota United, to Jordan Morris of Stanford University. But the most intriguing call-up, and the one most clamored for by fans on social media, is Lee Nguyen of the New England Revolution. Nguyen has been outstanding in the last few weeks, scoring a goal in six straight games and leading the Revs into the Eastern Conference Finals. He also led all American players in scoring during the 2014 MLS Regular Season with 18. One name that some fans would have like to have seen, if only because the game is at Craven Cottage, is Fulham midfielder Emerson Hyndman, who was not called into this camp due to being on duty with the US U/20 team in Spain. There was also some surprise that former Fulham man Clint Dempsey was not included on this trip, but after consulting with Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, Klinsmann opted to let Dempsey get some well-earned rest ahead of the Western Conference Finals.
Klinsmann will be looking to improve upon what has been a frustrating few games since the end of the World Cup. The new cycle got off to a good start with a 1-0 victory at the Czech Republic, but that was followed up by a pair of disappointing 1-1 draws at home against Ecuador and Honduras. One of the biggest problems the USA has experienced of late is conceding deep into the game. In fact, the USA have given up a goal after the 80th minute in seven of their last nine games.
Colombia has won two of their three games since the World Cup, against El Salvador and Canada, with the only loss coming against Brazil in Miami. The superstar for Colombia is James Rodriguez of Real Madrid. He scored six goals at the World Cup (including the goal of the tournament against Uruguay) and since making the move to Madrid has scored six goals in all competitions for Los Merengues. Colombia will be without their other superstar, Radamel Falcao of Manchester United, who is out with the same injury problems that caused him to miss the World Cup.