The United States fell to a 4-2 defeat to Colombia on Thursday, and the feeling after that match was overtly positive despite the final score. The team of mostly youngsters was more than competitive against a side that featured several well-known stars – James Rodriguez, Falcao, Juan Cuadrado to name a few – and only a pair of late goals proved the difference.
That will be less acceptable on Tuesday as the USMNT gets set to take on Peru at Rentschler Field in East Hartford at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Against a team with fewer recognizable stars and less international pedigree, a loss with positives will be far more difficult to swallow, especially after Thursday’s result. While Peru is certainly no CONMEBOL pushover – they’re coming off a 3-0 whipping of Chile – the opponent’s public perception goes a long way in determining the acceptability of a defeat in an international friendly.
Given the positive yet mistake-riddled performance against Colombia, a big focus will be on correcting mistakes. On Thursday, we saw some spotty man marking (see: Yedlin on Borja’s goal), poor wing play against speedy midfielders (see: Antonee Robinson vs Cuadrado), and struggles keeping up on the counter (see: Falcao goal). So against a more beatable opponent, how will the team respond? Mistakes are good if the players can learn from them.
Much of the focus last week was on Michael Bradley’s long-awaited return to the national team, and he delivered against Colombia, helping control play in the middle of the field, a vital resource against a superior opponent. So while Dave Sarachan promised “a lot of changes” to the starting lineup this time around, Bradley will almost certainly retain his place. Another pair of players we could see against Peru is Timothy Weah and Josh Sargent, who both came on late against Colombia and were positive influences on the game. Watching Bradley feed those two up front could be an excitable vision towards the future.
Brad Guzan will be in goal after Zack Steffan left the camp with an injury. He will face a Peruvian attack that looked positive last time out, but that lacks a proven goalscorer. The two true forwards in the Peru squad are Yordy Reyna and Raul Ruidiaz, who have a combined six goals in 52 appearances. The leading scorers in the squad are midfielders Christian Cueva and Edison Flores, and they will prove the biggest threat for Guzan at the back should they find the starting lineup.
Ultimately, while performances have been more important than results of late, a failure to earn three points will be a disappointment because in a match like this against a quality opponent, it will take a positive performance to earn the win.