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US-Colombia preview: Exciting US players return

It’s been almost exactly one year since the US lost to Trinidad & Tobago and failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. In that time many questions have been asked but change has been slow to happen. A much needed overhaul of the player pool has begun in earnest and US Soccer has a new president and a new GM. They still don’t have a manager and for this set of games a number of the veterans responsible for the failure during the last cycle have returned. 2018 has been a year of quiet, nervous hope for USMNT fans with the youth movement in full swing and results against teams like Paraguay, France, and Mexico. But all of that has been thrown out the window for the upcoming friendlies against Colombia and Peru in the name of “veteran leadership.” Excitement feels like it has bottomed out as the US gets set for its game against Colombia.

The US roster for these friendlies was released well ahead of when it normally is and right away everybody saw that the much dreaded return of Michael Bradley had finally happened. US fans got a full year without him, but he’s back. Why he’s back is anybody’s guess. It certainly isn’t on the back of excellent club form, as it was his badly missed penalty that cost Toronto FC a chance to win the CONCACAF Champions League and it was his leadership that led Toronto FC to miss the MLS Cup Playoffs this year. But Dave Sarachan feels like Bradley is a phenomenal leader and has those intangibles (this despite an interview that former USMNT player Jimmy Conrad gave recently where he stated that several current US players have come up to him saying they have no idea how to communicate with Bradley because he’s “an Alpha male know-it-all.”) But on the positive side there were plenty of young, exciting US players called in as well to offset Bradley’s return: guys like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams. But in the last week, all three have withdrawn from the camp with various injuries. So for these two friendlies the US is stuck with guys from the old guard like Bradley and Brad Guzan for some bizarre reason. On the back line it’s DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, and Matt Miazga. In the midfield it Bradley, Kellyn Acosta, Julian Green, Wil Trapp, Marky Delgado and Kenny Saief. And up top it’s Bobby Wood, Josh Sargent and Andrija Novakovich. There are several other exciting youngsters like Antonee Robinson, Tim Weah and Jonathan Amon but it’s clear that Sarachan feels like enough time has passed that US fans would all be totally cool with reverting back to the same group of players that couldn’t get a point against a Trinidad & Tobago team that was already eliminated from qualifying.

The question at every camp since last October has been “How important are these friendlies?” And from his roster selection for all of the previous camps, it looked like Dave Sarachan wanted to not only win the games (which is vitally important to get the fan base back on board with the team) but also overhaul the player pool and bring in some desperately needed new blood. But now it’s all about keeping it a Good Ole Boys Club (that certainly seems to be a theme with US Soccer) and just bringing in the guys who’ve always been brought in. The number of fluff pieces that have been written by other member of the media saying how vital Michael Bradley is to the team is also quite disturbing, perhaps evens more disturbing that Sarachan thinking he still has a place in the team. These friendlies are perhaps more important than the ones before the World Cup because the Gold Cup is fast approaching and it would behoove US Soccer to have a manager in place to start building a legitimate team for that tournament. But that’s in the future. The immediate task is facing Colombia.

Colombia, unlike the US, qualified for the World Cup and gave a respectable showing. They dropped their opening game against Japan and the bounced back with a 3-0 over Poland and a 1-0 win over Senegal. However, in their Round of 16 game against England (which they lost on penalties) they made a mockery of themselves with their antics and treatment of American referee Mark Geiger. Since they World Cup, they have yet to actually play a game in Colombia, with their two September friendlies against Venezuela and Argentina both in the US. Their next game up against Costa Rica is also in the US. Like the US, their managerial situation is not stable as Jose Pekerman retired and Arturo Reyes is the interim manger. Rumors swirled that they were going to try to hire native son Juan Carlos Osorio, but he signed with Paraguay. Rumors have also swirled that they may try to get Tata Martino (who has also been heavily linked to the Mexico job, and should have been chased by US Soccer, but while he wins a lot, Earnie Stewart doesn’t want a guy who can speak Spanish to coach the US team). The roster they brought in for their two October friendlies is absolutely stacked. In goal they have David Ospina. On the back line they have Santiago Arias, Jeison Murillo, and Davinson Sanchez. IN the midfield they have Juan Cuadrado, and the superstar James Rodriguez. And up top they have the captain Radamel Falcao and Carlos Bacca.

1. This will be the 9th game for the US since the Trinidad debacle. This wil be the fourth time in those 9 games that the US plays a South American opponent.
2. As of Tuesday, roughly 29,000 tickets have been sold to this game. The record for a US game in Tampa is 31,000 against Ecuador in 2007.
3. On Wednesday the locations for the US group stage games at the 2019 Gold Cup were announced: Minneapolis, Cleveland, Kansas City.

When and where to watch the game on US TV

Thursday, October 11, 2018
Raymond James Stadium
Tampa, Florida
7:30pm ET
Live on FS1, Univision, Univision Deportes Network and fubo (7-day free trial)

All-Time Series

USA trails 3-12-4

Last Meeting

November 14, 2014
Craven Cottage
London, England
USA 1–2 Colombia

Current FIFA Ranking

USA: 22
Colombia: 14

Next Game

Tuesday, October 16, 2018
International Friendly
USA vs. Peru
Pratt & Whitney Stadium
East Hartford, Connecticut

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