Second half collapses continue to plague Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA

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LONDON — You knew it was coming. You wanted to look away, but you couldn’t.

The U.S. national team led 1-0 up until the 60th minute of their friendly against Colombia at Craven Cottage on Friday, then Carlos Bacca scored a contentious equalizer. Many U.S. fans will have been sitting their saying, ‘we’ve seen this story before’ after plenty of second half collapses in recent months against Ecuador and Honduras in friendly matches.

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Against Colombia, the game-winner arrived in the 87th minute as Edwin Cardona cross went straight to Teo Gutierrez who headed home at the back post to send the vast majority of Craven Cottage wild. Over 20,000 Colombians had turned up to cheer on their team and the U.S. handed them a late win after another second half collapse.

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The U.S. has now coughed up a lead for their third-straight friendly match and in their last nine games they have now let in nine goals in the last 10 minutes of games. Asked after the game how he can solve that issue, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had the following to say.

“I don’t know if you can resolve that in 90 minutes training sessions, wait for the last five maybe,” Klinsmann said. “Don’t tell Ireland that we have conceded too many goals in the last couple of minutes. As coaches we look at how the games evolved and once again in the last 25 minutes, how is our shape compared to the opening 25 minutes.”

Not great, would be the assessment of that.

For the final 35 minutes Klinsmann’s side dropped deeper and deeper as the likes of James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Bacca and Teo grabbed control of the match. You have to cut the U.S. some slack. Compared to recent home friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras, they were now up against a full-strength Colombian outfit who shone at the World Cup and are currently ranked No.3 in the world.

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That said, Klinsmann is still searching for a reason why these late collapses keep occurring.

“It comes down to many reasons. We have many players struggling after the World Cup to get back into shape, especially European players who lost starting spots,” Klinsmann explained. “Right now they are on their way back but it took quite a long time because they came late in the preseason. They are not as fit yet to play right away. Jozy, Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler, John Brooks, Julian Green, all of them they have struggled. Other players have struggled with their form after the World Cup because it is a huge deal. Coming out of a World Cup you have to realize that 90 minutes is not always coming out of their legs… Some players you see them go downhill after 70 minutes and that is why we conceded a goal against Ecuador two minutes from the end and now again today. What we really want to see is how the players progress, overall.”

As for the game overall, a close 2-1 defeat to Colombia is no disgrace but proved that the USA are struggling to overcome familiar issues of being overrun in possession and eventually succumbing to sustained possession from the opposition. We saw that against the likes of Belgium and Portugal at the World Cup and it keeps happening. As for his assessment of the match overall, Klinsmann was upbeat despite the late defeat.

“I think there were chances for both teams, we had our chances to put the game away,” Klinsmann said. “Overall, maybe a tie would have been the right result. But this is exactly what we need. We need to learn to grind it until the very end of the game. They had the upper hand at the end of the game but I saw a lot of really good moments.”