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USMNT set to focus on result against Peru

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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.

That’s A Dive podcast: Special guest Michael Bradley

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When you can spend some time with MB90, you spend time with MB90.

Kyle Martino has a quick thought on Liverpool-Manchester City (2:00) and Manchester United’s comeback victory against Newcastle (5:15) before chatting with special guest, Michael Bradley, on the United States Men’s National Team (12:00).

[ MORE: Download “That’s A Dive” Apple Podcast ]

Click play to listen to the pod below.

USMNT-Colombia preview: Bradley’s back, but the new stars are not

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The United States men’s national team is back, and will play a match one year and one day removed from its colossal failure in Couva.

The Yanks were eliminated from World Cup qualification on Oct. 10, 2017, failing to ever find their footing in a must-win contest against Trinidad and Tobago’s B Team.

[ MORE: 1 year on from USMNT’s dark day ] 

How fitting, then, that the American squad set to face Colombia on Thursday is still a bit of a B Side by its own standards? Yes, Michael Bradley and Brad Guzan are back in the fold, but Dave Sarachan hasn’t just called up another a young side. He’s been forced to operate without new key pieces Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams (all injured).

Bradley is the most interesting piece in that he’s been one the main targets of scorn and blame for the failure in Trinidad and Tobago. On any other team, he waltzes back into the Starting XI. But how is Sarachan viewing this week, and the USMNT’s longtime captain?

Colombia is bringing plenty of A-listers to the affair, starting with James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Carlos Bacca, and Radamel Falcao. They’ll provide a stiff test for an American back line which is really beginning to function well together. DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, and Matt Miazga will figure in the set-up, but will Sarachan opt for three, four, or five at the back?

Or will he try some new blood, with MLS standouts Reggie Cannon, Aaron Long, and Ben Sweat angling for their first caps?

The other uncapped player in Nordsjaelland winger Jonathan Amon, a 19-year-old now featuring for the senior team after several years in the academy of the Danish powers.

Colombia beat the USMNT twice at the 2016 Copa America, once in the group stage and then again in the third place match. The Yanks haven’t come out on top against Los Cafeteros since a 2005 friendly.

The goal scorers that day? Pat Noonan, Chad Marshall, and Clint Mathis.

Zlatan rips Bradley after on-field argument (video)

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Toronto FC and the LA Galaxy played a peak TFC-Galaxy match last night, with both sides typifying their season in a 5-3 Reds win which included a blown 3-0 lead by Toronto.

Given the swings in emotion, it’s no surprise that two significant on-field personalities came head-to-head on Saturday.

[ MORE: Wolves beat Burnley ]

Toronto captain Michael Bradley’s heated exchange with referee Nima Saghafi led to LA’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic stepping in front of the official (who seemingly didn’t mind?). Ibrahimovic was already on yellow.

Zlatan — who also scored this perhaps unprecedented style of goal for his 500th career marker — was asked about Bradley.

“He thinks he’s the philosopher of football. I have more goals than he has games. He should follow my rules.”

Ibrahimovic has 500 goals between club and country. Bradley has 514 appearances, so joke’s on the Swede. Kinda.

A classy Bradley left his talking on the field, simply stating that he’s happy with the win and doesn’t care much for Zlatan’s opinion.

TFC is aiming to run the table and enter the playoffs as the six seed no one wants to see on the docket.

Sarachan: Bradley, Altidore, others should be part of next cycle

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United States men’s national team coach Dave Sarachan is hoping to stay on with the team once a permanent manager is appointed, and hopes he’s not the only holdover from the previous set-up.

Bruce Arena’s former assistant is unbeaten as interim boss following a 3-0 defeat of Bolivia on Monday, one achieved with a very young team and goals from Tim Weah, Walker Zimmerman, and Josh Sargent.

[ USMNT-BOLIVIA: Player ratings | 3 things ]

The Yanks added Bobby Wood, DeAndre Yedlin, and five others for the next week’s matches in Europe. And those familiar names likely won’t be the only ones once a new cycle of World Cup qualifying resumes for the USMNT.

Here’s Sarachan, speaking to Yahoo before Monday’s friendly.

“Guys like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, and I could name a few others, will absolutely still be in the mix,” he says. “They’ve been unfairly criticized. Leaving them out for these games is not a reflection of [whether] I feel they’re going to be a part of the next cycle.”

While both Bradley and Altidore have taken a lot of grief for the USMNT’s failure to qualify for Russia, some deserved, there should be little question their experience and expertise is more than enough to keep them in the picture.

It’s simply a matter of whether they can accept the idea of not being automatic starters if Josh Sargent, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Tim Weah continue to track as top young players.

As for Sarachan, he’s done an admirable job in a trying position so far. The only minor qualms with his work involve some missed opportunities to cap some called-up young players late in previous friendlies, but he had no problems achieving that objective on Monday.

Given how the players have reacted to him, it’d be wise to keep Sarachan involved in some capacity. Heck, you never know when you’ll need an interim boss again (I know, I know…).