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.
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.
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′)