USA 1-2 Colombia: Battling Americans can’t halt Colombian comeback

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LONDON — The U.S. national team lost 2-1 to No.3-ranked Colombia at Craven Cottage on Friday, as Jozy Altidore’s early goal was cancelled out by Carlos Bacca and a late winner from Teofilo “Teo” Gutierrez.

For most of the game the U.S. were pinned back by Colombia but in the ninth minute they went ahead through Altidore’s spot kick, his 25th goal for the Stars and Stripes. Bacca, James Rodgiuez and Teo all went close for Los Cafeteros but the South Americans didn’t draw level until the 60th minute, and they did so in controversial fashion.

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James jinxed his way through on the edge of the box and played a play towards Teo who was in an offside position. Despite not touching the ball, he stood still and Bacca arrived to take the ball around Guzan and slot home into an empty net. Late on substitute Bobby Wood forced Vargas into a great save at the other end but then came the winner as Teo headed home at the back post after severe pressure from the South Americans.

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Early on James got on the ball as much as possible and linked up with Carlos Sanchez in the sixth minute but the Aston Villa man sent his shot straight at Brad Guzan. The U.S. went ahead in the after a corner from the right was flicked back into the danger area by Jermaine Jones and as Rubio Rubin arrived to challenge Pablo Armero, Colombia’s left back flick his hand into the air and knocked the ball away. Referee Szymon Marciniak pointed to the spot despite appeals by Colombia’s players of a foul by Rubin and the USMNT skipper scored the spot kick despite Camilo Vargas guessing the right way. 1-0 to the USA.

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The partisan crowd weren’t deterred and neither were their heroes as James whipped in a delicious cross from the right which Carlos Bacca headed over as the South Americans looked to get back on level terms. In the 15th minute Altidore almost scored his and the USA’s second as he nodded Alejandro Bedoya’s free kick towards goal but Abel Aguilar cleared the ball.

source: Getty Images
Klinsmann watches on as the USA give up another lead.

Midway through the first half Colombia almost got their equalizer as James’ wicked low free kick skipped just past Guzan’s post, then Bacca had a thumping effort deflected wide. Colombia came so close to making it 1-1 in the 33rd minute as Teo teed up Bacca after a bad giveaway from Fabian Johnson but Bacca clipped the post with his effort as Colombia pushed hard for an equalizer before the interval. Soon after Jones looked to have blocked Bacca’s shot with his hand in the box but Colombia’s appeals were waved away as the USA went in ahead at the half.

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A minute into the second half debutant Rubin came so close to his starting his U.S. career in style. A great ball from Bedoya on the left found the FC Utrecht forward at the back post but his brave diving header went just wide. In the second half Yedlin and Johnson switched positions on the right flank as the Seattle Sounders youngster, who is on his way to Tottenham Hotspur, got to use his pace further up the right wing.

Despite the U.S. steadying the ship, Colombia were level in the 60th minute as James weaved into the box. As he dinked the ball toward Teo in an offside position, Bacca arrived to take the ball around Guzan and tap into an empty net. Euphoria at the Cottage for the large band of Colombian fans but the U.S. can feel hard done by as Teo clearly influenced the play.

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Cuadrado, James and Bacca all smashed in shots on goal but Guzan was equal to them, and then the USA had a glorious chance at the other end but Vargas saved well from Wood with his feet. Colombia pushed hard for the winner late on and they got it through Teo as Edwin Cardona’s cross found him at the back post to head home the game-winner, over substitute Julian Green, as Colombian fans went wild.

LINEUPS

USA: Guzan; Yedlin (Green, 86′), Jones, Brooks, Garza (Beasley, 70′); Beckerman; Bedoya (Morales, 66′), Diskerud (Nguyen, 78′), F. Johnson; Altidore, Rubin (Wood, 66′)

Goal: Altidore (9′)

Colombia: Vargas, Arias, Franco, Murillo, Armero, Sánchez, Abel (Cardona, 74′), James, Cuadrado (Quintero, 90′), Bacca (Ramos, 78′), Teo (Martinez, 89′)

Goals: Bacca (60′), Teo (87′)

Jovic could see himself in Premier League, Serie A

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Maybe Luka Jovic’s presumed move to Real Madrid won’t happen this summer.

Or at all.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard price ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker has been tipped for a move away from the Bundesliga after another strong campaign, and taking the center forward reins from Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

Several outlets reported the deal as done, but Jovic isn’t speaking that way (or at least the Serbian is throwing us off the scent.

From Goal.com:

“In terms of the physique, the Bundesliga is very demanding, but after the games against Chelsea or Inter Milan, I personally had the feeling that I could feel even better [playing] in the Premier League or Serie A. … The way the teams play there suits me better.”

Jovic scored 27 times in 48 appearances for Frankfurt, adding seven assists at the tender age of 21. Ten of those came in the Europa League, and we’re not talking about flooding the nets of minnows; Jovic scored against Chelsea (twice), Marseille (three), Lazio (two), and Inter Milan (once).

Report: Chelsea, Real $38M apart on Hazard

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How much for Hazard?

Real Madrid are willing to pay $127 million, no small fee, to bring Eden Hazard from Chelsea, but that’s well off the Blues’ evaluation according to Sky Sports.

Chelsea sees Hazard’s price as $165 million. Belgian writer Kristof Terreur told Sky that Hazard wants his future sorted by June 4.

[ MORE: Bayern wins double ]

The Blues’ superstar is entering the final year of his contract, and could begin negotiating with other clubs in January and leave on a free transfer.

Hazard turns 29 in January. He recorded 19 goals and 16 assists in 51 matches this season, his best output in a Blues uniform.

The report says Chelsea feels no pressure to sell Hazard, but it would be a surprise if it dug in its heels too deeply considering the state of the Belgian’s contract.

Even for Chelsea, letting over $100 million walk out the door is wild, and for all Hazard’s won with Chelsea there’s also been consternation under several managers and a more than occasional habit of disappointing on the table.

MLS roundup: Timbers end road trip with emphatic win in Philly

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in MLS…

[ MORE: USA topped by Ukraine in U-20 World Cup opener ]

Philadelphia Union 1-3 Portland Timbers [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Just when everyone had begun to take the Union seriously — to give them the respect befitting a first-place team — Jim Curtin’s side fell flat on its face and fell out of the Eastern Conference’s top spot. Saturday’s defeat to the suddenly streaking — and homeward bound — Timbers snapped Philadelphia’s six-game unbeaten run (four wins).

24-year-old attacker Brian Fernandez, signed as a Designated Player earlier this month, made his first MLS start and marked the occasion with two first-half goals (31st and 36th minutes). Diego Valeri added the third (87th) after Kacper Przybylko pulled the Union back to 2-1 in the 47th.

Now, with 14 points from their 12-game road trip to start the season, Portland heads home for 17 of their final 22 games to be played inside a newly renovated — and expanded — Providence Park. The gap between themselves and a Western Conference playoff place is just four points.

New England Revolution 1-1 D.C. United [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

With the Union slipping up and dropping all three points, D.C. United made the most of their opportunity to return to the top of the East on the back of Wayne Rooney‘s 90th-minute penalty kick to snatch a 1-1 draw with (what will soon be) Bruce Arena’s Revolution.

Juan Agudelo put the home side ahead with a header in the 61st minute, and the lead held firm for nearly the final half-hour. Alas, video review reviewed a handball late in the game, which presented Rooney the chance to play the part of hero. He duly obliged and hammered his spot kick past backup goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who replaced Matt Turner following his 56th minute red card for cleaning out Rooney.

Arena is expected to take charge of Revs training this week and make his debut as head coach next Sunday, when his new side visits… his old side, the LA Galaxy.

Colorado Rapids 3-2 Columbus Crew SC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Don’t look now, but the Rapids have won two straight games under interim head coach Conor Casey and appear set on clawing their way out of the league’s basement.

Sure, they blew a pair of leads at home, but they also hit back with another goal of their own every time Crew SC drew level, culminating in a stunning winner from Nicolas Mezquida.

The gap between Colorado and 23th place is now just three points, as expansion side FC Cincinnati come closer and closer on the horizon.

Elsewhere in MLS

Chicago Fire 1-1 New York City FC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 FC Dallas [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
FC Cincinnati 0-2 New York Red Bulls [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Minnesota United 1-0 Houston Dynamo [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Sporting Kansas City v. Seattle Sounders — 6 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. San Jose Earthquakes — 7:30 p.m. ET

Will winning the double be enough to keep Kovac at Bayern?

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BERLIN (AP) Niko Kovac is the first to win a domestic double in Germany as a player and coach, yet it may not be enough to keep his job as Bayern Munich coach.

[ MORE: Valencia end Barcelona’s four-year hold on Copa del Rey ]

Kovac, whose side defeated Leipzig 3-0 in the German Cup final on Saturday, a week after clinching the Bundesliga title, is yet to be given assurances in public from the club that he will remain in charge, despite bringing a successful end to what had been a testing season.

The pressure and uncertainty appeared to cast a shadow on what was Kovac’s second successive German Cup win — he was Eintracht Frankfurt coach when the side defeated Bayern in the final last year.

“Last year I was leaving the team. This year everything is a little less emotional, no tears, but still, I’m happy,” Kovac said.

“Sometimes I would really wish that things went a little differently. It’s difficult to turn the wheel back. We should all work on it, we’re all human. We should make sure that we get along with each other.”

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Kovac, who won the double as a player in 2003, acknowledged the cup win on Saturday was “very important” as “it shows that we have worked well.”

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was again coy when pressed on the coach’s future.

“At the end of the day, we have to get titles. Of course the coach plays a central role,” Rummenigge said. “It was never an issue for us with the term that he has until 2021, that he would simply not be there anymore as coach beforehand.”