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′)

At halftime: Colombia lead after Rodriguez’s wondergoal

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James Rodriguez is the difference between both teams at the half, as his stunning volley has given Colombia a 1-0 lead.

Los Cafeteros have dominated the opening 45 minutes, as Uruguay look lackluster going forward without the banned Luis Suarez in attack.

Rodriguez struck in the 27th minute, as he collected a header by controlling it on his chest, then volleyed the ball towards the top corner as Muslera got his fingertips to it but couldn’t keep it out.

That is the difference between the two South American nations, as Colombia is 45 minutes away from its first-ever berth in the World Cup quarterfinals.

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Goals

27′: Rodriguez takes one touch on his chest, then smashes in an unstoppable volley which Muslera can only tip onto the bar before it crosses the line. Phenomenal strike.

Other key moments

6′: Cuadrado smashes a free kick from distance which is deflected towards goal by a Colombian player but goes over.

11′: After a surging run, Zuniga smashes a shot at goal which Muslera gathered at the second attempt.

27′: Rodriguez volleys in to put Colombia. What. A. Goal.

40′: Tempers begin to flare as veterans Mario Yepes and Diego Forlan clash in the penalty box. Things calm down, but this could get ugly.

Questions for the second half

How will Uruguay change things up? 

Perhaps bringing on Gaston Ramirez to get things flowing in midfield would help La Celeste create more chances. So far, Cavani and Forlan have looked isolated up top.

How many can Colombia get? 

You get the feeling that if Colombia go 2-0 up, the floodgates will open and this could get embarrassing. Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez are giving Uruguay the runaround.

Falcao may make it to the World Cup after all

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On Wednesday, fans of soccer the world over watched in horror as Radamel Falcao went down with a knee injury, while playing for Monaco in the French Cup. It mattered little whether fans supported Monaco or Colombia – what seemed clear is that the World Cup would suddenly be without one of the most exciting strikers currently playing.

Colombia fans were hit hardest, of course. The country placed second in CONMEBOL qualification to secure a place in Brazil, scoring 27 goals in 16 matches. By the end of qualification, Colombia were ranked fourth in the world by FIFA. Seeded for the World Cup draw, Los Cafeteros found themselves in a fairly mild group, with Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan.

It would be unfair to the side to say that Falcao carried them to qualification. However, Falcao was the side’s top scorer, with nine goals from just twelve starts. Many of the country’s hopes were pinned on his being in form in Brazil. Suddenly, that hope seemed finished.

Is it cruel, then, that the doctor that performed Falcao’s surgery to suggest there’s still a chance that he’ll make it to the World Cup? The striker went under the knife on Saturday, with the doctor performing the operation stating that “it’s not out of the question” that Falcao will make it to Brazil, and even giving him a better than 50 percent chance.

Even without Falcao, Colombia have plenty of exciting attacking options. Jackson Martínez, and Teó Gutíerrez will be along for the ride, and James Rodríguez can play an advanced role. Fredy Montero, with 13 goals for Sporting Lisbon, could squeeze into the squad. Even Luis Muriel could step up.

But it’s Falcao that has shown the most value at the international level, and Falcao that means the most to this Colombia side. While expectation may be the root of all heartache, in this case, it may be to the supporters’ benefit that they’re allowed to dream of a World Cup with their top scorer leading the line.

Has Monaco’s superstar Radamel Falcao lied about his age?

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Just when you thought technology had all the answers, wham, everything is thrown into doubt.

This morning reports are circulating that Colombian striker Radamel Falcao may actually be older than everyone previously thought.

After signing for Monaco from Atletico Madrid earlier this summer for a huge $78 million transfer fee, Falcao was believed to be 27.

But now evidence found in his home nation of Colombia suggest otherwise. Apparently Falcao is actually 29.

Surely he knew about this?

But the big question is, how will Monaco react to this after shelling out a huge some of money for a player they believed to be in his prime with many years ahead of him? Falcao has scored an incredible 142 goals in his last 177 games for FC Porto and Atletico, but could Monaco now expect less of a prolific return after this revelation?

Okay it’s only two years difference, but still, those two years make a huge impact on a soccer players career.

Falcao has some explaining to do.

(MORE: Radamel Falcao signs for AS Monaco, as revolution in Monte Carlo has a new leader)

So, in the report an old civil registration form suggests that Falcao was born in 1984 instead of 1986. According to Colombia’s Noticias Uno, one of Falcao’s primary schools claims the former Porto striker was born on Feb. 10, 1984 – making the striker 29 years old.

Additionally, the report states Falcao was born Colombia’s capital Bogota, not San Marta as everyone believed.

This is a mess.

But amongst all these allegations of age fraud and all the complications that brings with it, Falcao’s parents have rubbished the stories and put it down to a “clerical error.”

How many Radamel Falcao García Zárate’s are there in Colombia? Now we aren’t too sure.

So is this the first-time an age discrepancy has cropped up in soccer? Oh no.

Take U.S. national team star Freddy Adu as exhibit A. His age has been questioned on numerous occasions after he made his pro debut at the age of 14, this report suggests his actual birth date may never be found out after Adu was born in Tema, Ghana before moving to the USA at the age of 8.

And elsewhere in Africa, former Inter Milan defender Taribo West is apparently 12 years older than everyone believed. So West actually retired from playing soccer at the age of 51… instead of 39. His Nigerian teammates and former EPL stars Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu have also been accused of lying about their age.

So what do all these players getting from clouding the truth about their age? Well, for starters they get to have a longer professional career and make more money. But the toll on their body must be incredible.

Anyway, with Falcao’s secret reportedly out, let’s wait and see if any other soccer stars have a guilty conscience and reveal they’re actually older than they are.

This could get very interesting indeed.

Fredy Montero heading to Sporting Lisbon?

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Fans of the Seattle Sounders, it seems like you can start, officially, waving goodbye to Fredy Montero.

The 25-year-old Colombian striker has spent the last six months on loan at Millonairos, but he is edging closer to a permanent transfer away from Seattle as Portuguese powerhouse Sporting Lisbon are in advanced negotiations with the MLS franchise.

News broke earlier today that Montero may be heading abroad on a five-year deal and according to reports Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer did little to dispel the rumors. Although there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome.

Montero’s situation is a bizarre one. He is still a Seattle player but everyone knew that when he left for Colombia, the Sounders franchise-leading scorer was moving away on loan to try and get into the Colombian national team picture.

But since arriving at Millonairos, Montero has scored just seven goals in 25 games and hasn’t exactly performed the way many thought he would. However Montero’s other motive in moving to Millonairos was to try and catapult himself to Europe and it seems as though he may get his wish.

Obviously negotiations between Seattle and Sporting Lisbon are still ongoing but with Hanauer admitting a deal is being brokered, how should Sounders fans feel about this deal?

(MORE: Montero says goodbye to Seattle in emotional open letter)

Confused and perhaps slightly upset. But ultimately accepting. At the end of the day, some Sounders fans may have harbored believes that Montero could actually return to CenturyLink after his loan at Millonairos. Montero was handed a new multi-year contract and is still a Seattle player. But nobody really expected him to return. The fact the Seattle loaned him out and gave him a new contract at the same time just acted to protect their own interests.

Now, that move seems like a smart one as Sporting are set to swoop for his signature. The deal should work well for everyone and for Montero it is last-chance saloon as he tries to squirm into José Pekerman’s Columbia squad that are performing well in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. Los Cafeteros are second in the table with four games to go in the fall, they should reach their first World Cup since 1998 and Fredy wants to be part of it.

What type of transfer fee could Seattle get for Montero? We will have to wait and see. But the front office won’t just hand over their prized asset for a miserly fee. However Sporting Lisbon have been in financial difficulties of late and had to offload striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel to Norwich City.

So there’s a spot for Montero to fill straight away. Hopefully he gets the chance to shine in European soccer, he has craved it for quite some time. Stay tuned on this one folks.