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USA vs. Colombia: The Pre-Match Tailgate


The U.S. men's national team takes on the Colombian national team tonight at PPL Park (8pm, ESPN2) in a match that should provide a stiff test for an American squad sure to feature several fresh faces.

The 2-2 tie against Poland on Saturday provided some positives and negatives, but tonight's match will deliver completely new challenges. Colombia features a stingy defense as well as a dangerous attacking duo in Radamel Falcao and Giovanni Moreno.

Veteran defenders Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo have returned to their European club teams after starting against Poland, opening the door for the likes of Heath Pearce, Jonathan Spector and Eric Lichaj. Bob Bradley will choose between those three to fill two fullback spots, while also deciding on who to start in central defense against some dangerous Colombian strikers.

There are also questions to ask about the offense and whether Bradley shakes things up dramatically. Given the short turnaround time it is unlikely he starts the same from six, with Eddie Johnson and Alejandro Bedoya potentially earning starts.

SBI will be providing extensive coverage from tonight's match, but for now, feel free to share your pre-game thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.


  1. Excuse me?

    I actually play the game and learned to play the game in the inner city. I have no idea what article you are even talking about…

  2. Again, you’re using friendlies to gauge the strength of a team.
    I think Venezuela is a decent team but in games that matter (i.e. CONMEBOL qualifiers, Copa America) Colombia is the heavy favorite.
    For the past 20 years we’ve been better than Honduras and Costa Rica (hence our consistent success in qualifying and those countries’ sporadic triumphs in same). It is perhaps arguable that the results show we are “way” better, but we’ve clearly been better.
    Also, we are 0-7-1 against South American teams in our last 8 games. Since those games we have never failed to qualify for the WC. What does this suggest? That your assertion that a loss to Colombia signals problems in qualifying is weak.

    Also, you say that you expect the US to beat Panama and Jamaica regularly which seems to contradict your earlier statement implying that these teams were going to somehow present a challenge that would throw 5-6 teams into the qualifying mix instead of the usual 4 (I assume you mean USA, Mex, Honduras, CR). If the US regularly beats Jamaica and Panama and CR drops off, then there’s only Mex and Honduras to contend seriously with. Add in the fact that due to the new format we probably won’t have to play Mexico and your argument falls to shreds. Whats this about the US having to worry about qualifying this time? With one less CONCACAF power to worry about and not having to play Mexico?

    And I’ll nitpick but Venezuela beat Peru last year not this year.

  3. Read Dave Hirshey huh?

    Before you start talking about how

    “its not all about power, speed and kicking.” , I would invite you to get on a sideline with either Brazil, Germany or Holland. Those guys have more skill and creativity than they know what to do with but, when it starts to hit the fan, as often happens in international tournaments, they can get the business done. Barca and Spain aren’t short of hard men and good defenders either. It’s just that they play defense differently, by keeping the ball away from you for about 89 minutes.

  4. Panama has actually beaten Venezuela twice this year. This year Venezuela has beaten Colombia, Peru, North Korea and Honduras and tied Brazil, Japan and Chile (twice).

    I don’t doubt that the US should beat Panama and Jamaica regularly, but we sure as hell don’t expect beat Costa Rica or Honduras with regularity. Respectively, those two teams start Roy Miller with the 1st team and play Espinoza almost every game. Guys who are probably at the same level as Richards. We should be way better than both Honduras and Costa Rica too, but the results on the field don’t exactly suggest that.

  5. In regard to Messi, that’s a perfect example to show that having the best players does not mean you’ll have the best team. Our player selection might be the best but they don’t combine together to make the best team.
    As for LD is can create scoring opportunities….that’s his strong point. Scoring goals though, everyone scores goals…I mean Gooch did, Altidore scored, but that are not “goal scoring” geniuses, the go to guys when you’re having a drought. We need a better “TEAM”

  6. What is laughable is playing the same players and expecting something different, collecting oranges in hopes of getting apple juice!!! Whats laughable is playing inferior teams and not having confidence to put all your chips on your team!!!! The reason everyone wanted another coach was because someone would come in with a new prospective/vision/player selection/talent recognition or whatever you want to call it. The best team doesn’t always have the best players!!! A lot of these players might be our best players but they don’t make the best team (as proved time and time again) Switching formations around is not going to do anything but give us false hope. I believe the U.S. has a better “combination” of players out there but just need a particular kind of coach (or BB to see the light!!!!) to find it.

  7. I say 4-3-2-1






    This is what I would like to see. Defensive subs at half or 60′ Offensive subs at half or 70′

  8. Seems like the hot topic of the day. FWIW, I read the article and I was not impressed. No single star (the mystical, half-Latin #10 currently ignored/ostracized on US playgrounds) is going to change the US and put them among the top teams in the world (Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany, and Holland). You could put Messi on this team tomorrow and that would not change the defensive issues, first touch problems, and finishing issues that happen in every match. There are only a few world class “10s” out there – every country wishes they had them but they don’t. Poland did not have one on Saturday. Colombia (a “Latin” country) is not going to trot one out tonight either. You play with what you have and you play to your strengths. The US’s strengths are speed, size/strength, and fitness. Technical play and possession just are not it – a “10” would help but that is not going to solve anything. With the exception of some CONCACAF matches, the US is rarely the most technical side on the pitch – this is not going to change by playing Torres or Bedoya. The article’s “hint” that playing these guys (or similar players) would help solve the problem is laughable. I really like Torres and Bedoya, but they are far from game changers at this point. I was all for Torres playing in the Slovenia match, but he was not up to the task – illustrating that there are still major holes in his game. Hopefully, Bedoya will come along and help as we do need someone who can play the wing and cross the ball, but he is not there yet. Bo Derek is closer to being a “10” than either one of those guys.

  9. I don’t know if it is a creativity problem, or simply a lack of options that concern a defense.

    Without a speedy and dangerous Charlie Davies, we have not had an option that causes concerns among opponents. Our only options have been to counter with our midfield or to lump it to Jozy. Both have been stifled by sound defensive tactics

    Maybe those were our options even with a fit and speedy Davies.

  10. I think that you are right on track. It will be a good match as I think that Jozy, EJ, and Duece will have some problems working against the Colombian central defense. You never know if Bob is going to try and “win” the game (best players, formation, and tactics that work against Colombia) or just try some new things and not worry too much about the opponent. I think that the US really needs a good lineup tonight with “wingers” that are not cheating inside too much. If we get an experimental lineup with lots subs/position changes, I would not expect a win. Colombia is too good for that. Overall, I do not expect too many goals tonight, so one mistake might decide it.

  11. Colombia is a much better team than Venezuela. Using one meaningless friendly to predict a team’s quality is, obviously, foolish (I.e., Panama won’t consistently beat teams even of Venezuela’s caliber).

    The Reggae Boyz might be improving, but seeing as Dane Richards seems to be one of their better players, I’m not so sure we should be running scared. A fun fact: Jamaica recently gave a cap to a kid from VCU, a decent but by no means top tier soccer program in the US.

    Who are you “Nats MIGHT be in serious danger of not qualifying guys”? Closet Mexico aficionados? Bored children?

  12. There is only one player worse that Jozy Altidore and that is Eddie Johnson. I’d rather start Brad Guzan at forward than either of these two guys.

  13. I think people want Claudio Reyna. Donovan isn’t a natural 10 in the traditional sense of sitting in the middle and distributing and dictating tempo. Donovan DOES have vision, busts his butt, and is a smart player, but he doesn’t present the offensive threat of a Messi (not just because he’s not on the same level). You don’t really play through a LD type player, who is best and absolutely fatal on the counter.
    This isn’t always a bad thing, the game just isn’t played that way so much anymore. But it does present difficulties in breaking down good defenses because while Donovan is a great player he just isn’t that link between the midfield and the strikers. I think your comparison of Donovan’s role to Messi is spot on, but in Messi’s case (at Barca at least) he’s got true number 10’s behind him to provide that link, creativity, and offensive variety to keep the offense juiced in case Messi gets marked out of a game.

    I’m a BB supporter but I don’t see how you can look at the way the NT’s played these last few years and not think that there are some pretty considerable creativity issues on offense (look at the way that great 2002 team played against Germany). I also agree that there are many teams with these types of issues and that effective #10’s don’t just grow on trees.

  14. Didn’t Bradley try a couple different formations in qualification for 2010 and in the friendlies leading up to it that failed miserably?

    The 4-4-2 was our best formation for 2010 WC.

    Now, going forward, if we have the right personnel, a 4-2-3-1 could work, as people have suggested.

  15. I will catch a lot of heat for this, but:

    I thought Hirshey’s article was pretty good. Most of the stuff he writes I don’t like. I think he is better than Trecker though.

    What I took from Hirshey’s article was that the US (and most of the world for that matter) does not have a #10 and a Makelele center mid-duo. In the USMNT both center mids – whoever they may be – need to play both ways. And Donovan, while our best player, is not going to see the ball on every possession.

  16. you say defensive like it’s a bad thing. we need to more defensive considering that was our weakness against poland. and also we will be missing ‘dolo and boca, so being more defensive tonight is good thing. but otherwise I also like this idea

  17. I agree. I know it isn’t a big deal, but the tone from Ives seemed to me to be a bit harsh. The guy was just voicing his opinion. I like reading SBI a lot, so I can’t be too critical though.

  18. would like to see Shea start for Benny, and then the back line changes, but otherwise the same team and formation (Gooch and Maurice paired, MB and JJ, 4-2-3-1) opening as vs. Poland

    Come on Philly…represent!!!


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