Carlos Bacca

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USMNT can do little to slow down prolific Colombia

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A young, hilariously overmatched U.S. men’s national team put forth a mostly encouraging performance against a star-studded Colombia side en route to a 4-2 defeat in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday.

[ WATCH: James gives Colombia lead over USMNT with beauty ]

Dave Sarachan’s record in 12 months as interim head coach now stands at 3W-3D-3L.

Colombia threatened early and often, from the opening five minutes onward, when Antonee Robinson and John Brooks were beaten by Santiago Arias on the edge of the USMNT’s penalty area. Arias glided past the left-sided duo and delivered a delightful cross to Radamel Falcao near the penalty spot. Fortunately for goalkeeper Zack Steffen, Falcao fired over the crossbar and the Yanks were off the hook.

The pressure finally paid off in the 36th minute (WATCH HERE). Rodriguez curled the ball from a seemingly impossible distance outside of Steffen’s right-hand post and nestled it into the upper-90 from the opposite side of the penalty area. It was a goal that reminded us of the world class talent Colombia possessed.

For all of Colombia’s dominance and control exuded in the first half, Los Cafeteros failed to make the USMNT pay with a second goal — for a time. Five minutes into the second half, they paid the price themselves.

Antonee Robinson had all day down the left flank before floating a lofted ball into the box, where Davinson Sanchez got the slightest of touches with his head, but nowhere near enough to send it clear of danger. Acosta read the flight of the ball the entire way and arrived to the six-yard box with split-second timing to make it a 1-1 game.

[ UEFA Nations League: Portugal win again without Ronaldo ]

They paid again three minutes later, when Wood split two defenders to get on the end of Tim Weah’s deftly played, inch-perfect through ball to the penalty spot. Wood needed — had time for — just one touch to hit it hard and low past Ospina inside his left-hand post. 2-1 to the USMNT.

The lead was extraordinarily short-lived, though. Arias got to the end line and cut the ball back toward the penalty spot for Carlos Bacca. With every defender’s momentum taking them toward the end line, Bacca peeled away from every blue shirt and had plenty of time and space to send his first-time shot past the outstretched hands of Steffen to make it 2-2.

The draw was beginning to look attainable — perhaps likely, even — until Colombia struck with a lethal counter-attack directly resulting from a USMNT set piece. Brooks was the USMNT player farthest up the field when Rodriguez booted the ball out of his own penalty area, springing Juan Quintero one-on-one in the open field. Falcao made the hard run through the center of the field to get into the box. No one went with him, and the finish was simple as could be for a player of his caliber.

As if Rodriguez’s opening goal didn’t provide enough of the wow factor for an overwhelmingly pro-Colombia crowd, Bayern Munich’s somewhat maligned superstar set up Miguel Borja for another moment of absolute class in the 79th minute. A simple chipped ball over the top provided a stage for Borja’s acrobatic finish to complete the scoring and the rout.

Transfer rumor roundup: Veratti to Barcelona; Hart’s next loan home

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A roundup of Thursday’s transfer rumors from around the Premier League, and the rest of the world…

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

Barcelona need to rebuild a midfield, and Marco Veratti is ready to leave Paris Saint-Germain. If you were to put two and two together, you might conclude that Barca should sign Veratti this summer, and you might just be onto something.

Not only have Barca been heavily linked with the 24-year-old Italian midfielder for a couple weeks now, according to some social-media sleuthing, Veratti, along with his agent, is said to have eaten dinner at the same Ibiza restaurant as Lionel Messi on Wednesday. Messi’s camp denies that he was even at the restaurant on Wednesday, but the Internet has never been known to tell a lie. Veratti could cost Barca as much as $111 million (100 million euros).

[ MORE: Man United confirm Lindelof signing ]

According to the Standard, Arsenal are willing to include Olivier Giroud in a player-plus-lots-and-lots-of-cash deal for Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe. The 18-year-old is expected to fetch close to $130 million if he moves this summer, meaning Arsenal would likely have to offer $120 million plus Giroud in any future bid. Monaco have already reportedly rejected a bid of $110 million from Arsenal. Alexander Lacazette remains Arsenal’s Giroud-plus-quite-a-bit-less-cash backup plan.

[ MORE: Donnarumma to leave AC Milan; Real Madrid come calling ]

Joe Hart‘s Manchester City career is all but officially finished, which means he’ll be looking for a new home this summer. West Ham United are one on a short list of clubs without a fully entrenched no. 1 goalkeeper, thus an obvious fit emerges. With Hart’s weekly wages ($150,000) and Man City’s desired transfer fee ($23 million) likely to prove insurmountable hurdles for a permanent transfer, the Standard reports Hart could move to east London on loan next season.

[ MORE: Bayern Munich sign Corentin Tolisso in Budesliga-record deal ]

With Romelu Lukaku seemingly set to leave Goodison Park this summer, Everton will need to replace the big Belgian who in three seasons at the club has scored 53 PL goals. If we’re to trust the public statements of an Everton scout, AC Milan’s Carlos Bacca and Napoli’s Duvan Zapata are “interesting” candidates.

USA finishes 4th at Copa America after 1-0 loss to Colombia

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Very few actually expected the U.S. national team to still be alive and kicking once the semifinal round of the 2016 Copa America Centenario rolled around earlier this week, so in that sense the tournament was a success no matter the results against Argentina and, eventually, Colombia.

[ MORE: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | Copa America 2016 ]

That said, the cruelest dynamic of the third-place game is that someone will go home as the only side to have lost not once, but twice, in the knockout portion of the tournament. Following Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Colombia in Phoenix, Ariz., that team is Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT, for the second straight year. The Yanks hardly endured the kind of domination that Argentina exercised on Tuesday, but a third loss and fourth-place finish this tournament nonetheless.

Colombia went ahead through Carlos Bacca’s second goal of the tournament, in the 31st minute, but it’s the chipped through ball from James Rodriguez that will (rightly) steal all the plaudits. From 22 yards out, the Real Madrid man lifted the ball toward the near post for Santiago Arias, who headed across the face of goal for the late-arriving Bacca and the easy finish. USMNT sliced and diced, with ease, yet again.

[ MORE: Gulati, other officials interested in more Copa mash-ups ]

Clint Dempsey was robbed by a save of the tournament-level denial by David Ospina in the 51st minute. Dempsey’s free kick from 30 yards out started outside of Ospina’s left-hand post before curling back inside and under the crossbar, but the Arsenal deputy scrambled across the face of goal and went airborne to make an otherworldly save.

The USMNT remained just a goal down, but only by inches, in the 61st minute, when Juan Cuadrado caught Tim Howard off his line and opted for the delicate chip from 20 yards out. Two inches too high, Chelsea’s on-loan-to-Juventus winger came up with nothing but crossbar.

Less than a minute later, it was the woodwork that preserved Colombia’s lead, as Bobby Wood worked a scoring chance all by himself, refusing to quit even after falling to the ground inside the penalty area with three defenders blanketing him. Wood’s left-footed shot went agonizingly close to equalizing from just wide of the penalty spot.

The next time the USMNT convenes, it’ll be for the resumption of 2018 World Cup qualifying in September, with an away fixture against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, followed by a home date against Trinidad and Tobago.

Colombia wins wild one with Paraguay, qualifies for Copa America quarterfinals

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PASADENA, Calif. (AP) James Rodriguez scored a goal and set up another in the first 30 minutes, and Colombia clinched a berth in the Copa America quarterfinals with a 2-1 victory over Paraguay on Tuesday night.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | Copa America 2016 ]

Colombia became the first team to secure advancement to the knockout stage of the tournament with stellar goaltending from David Ospina and another dynamic performance from Rodriguez, who shook off a shoulder injury that made his availability a game-time decision at the Rose Bowl.

The Real Madrid midfielder propelled Colombia to its second win in two matches, following a 2-0 victory over the United States last week.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from USA 4-0 CRC | Player ratings ] 

Victor Ayala scored Paraguay’s first goal of the Copa America in the 71st minute on a long shot past Ospina (the goal of the tournament?), who made a handful of jaw-dropping saves to keep Colombia ahead.

VIDEO: Carlos Bacca scores ridiculous rabona goal for AC Milan

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Carlos Bacca seems to be getting along just fine in his first season at AC Milan…

The Colombian striker joined the Italian giants from Sevilla last summer for more than $30 million, and he is already living up to his price tag.

[ VIDEO: Firmino scores stunner ]

The club’s leading goalscorer, Bacca scored his best goal yet on Wednesday in AC Milan’s Coppa Italia match against Carpi.

Bacca moved in on goal, cut past the keeper, and pulled off a ridiculous right-footed rabona to fire Milan into the lead.

The Rossoneri would go on to win the match 2-1 and advance to the semifinal, where Bacca will be hoping to produce a little more magic.