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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.

Monaco loses again, digs deeper Ligue 1 hole

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AS Monaco is suddenly in deep, deep trouble. It didn’t seem real, merely just an early-season phase, but slowly it’s becoming more and more palpable.

The 2016/17 Ligue 1 champions lost 2-1 to Stade Rennais on a 77th minute winner by Hatem Ben Arfa (remember him?), dropping its fourth straight match across all competitions, and their seventh loss in the last nine matches. The club is without a win since August 11th when they won their season opener against Nantes.

Ben Arfa’s goal was a cracking shot, but also a product of terrible goalkeeping as Danijel Subasic will wish he had reacted earlier to give him a chance at saving the effort. It had been coming though, as Monaco had been reduced to 10 men just seconds before halftime on a moment of sheer idiocy when 34-year-old defender Andrea Raggi was caught clearly catching Clément Grenier with a right hook on a corner.

The bright side for Monaco is they actually scored, with Radamel Falcao bagging a man-down goal soon after the break. Scoring is something Monaco hadn’t done in a whopping 382 minutes across all competitions.

Still, the silver linings end there. Monaco is now 18th in the Ligue 1 table, four points back of safety already. The club sold a host of young players over the summer, including Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, and Fabinho, but that should not have doomed a club with seemingly endless young talent to such depths of the table. Leonardo Jardim was a highly-coveted name this offseason but chose to stay with Monaco, and that could potentially backfire should things continue to fester.

Ligue 1: Falcao paces Monaco; Vieira loses on Nice debut

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PARIS (AP) Radamel Falcao came off the bench to score and set up another goal as Monaco opened its French league campaign with a 3-1 win at Nantes on Saturday.

A dull match quickly improved when Falcao came on midway through the second half. The veteran Colombia striker immediately started combining well with Montenegro forward Stevan Jovetic, who set up a headed goal for attacking midfielder Rony Lopes with a deflected cross in the 69th minute.

With 10 minutes left, Falcao gathered a high ball near halfway and intelligently flicked the ball over his head into the path of Jovetic, who scored with a cool finish.

Three minutes later, Falcao was celebrating after tapping in Samuel Grandsir’s low cross from the right, after Grandsir was freed by Jovetic’s measured pass inside the penalty area.

“Falcao is an important player for us, it’s easier when you have players of his quality,” Lopes said. “We didn’t play well in the first half.”

Nantes salvaged some pride through striker Emiliano Sala’s goal in the second minute of injury time.

In Friday’s season-opening match, attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet scored twice as Marseille beat Toulouse 4-0.


Patrick Vieira’s first match in charge of Nice ended in a 1-0 home defeat to Reims.

The former France and Arsenal midfielder was not helped by the fact he had no recognized striker, with Mario Balotelli – last season’s top scorer – suspended and Alassane Plea sold during the offseason.

That left Vieira with midfielder Bassem Srarfi as a makeshift forward – and the Tunisia international was ineffective.

Midfield counterpart Moussa Doumbia scored for Reims after just three minutes.

Falcao calls it “peculiar” American referee Geiger officiated Colombia vs. England match

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American referee Mark Geiger has received criticism for how he managed the physicality between Colombia and England in their World Cup Round of 16 match on Tuesday. Some of that criticism has come from the parties involved.

Geiger handed out six yellow cards to Colombian players – including to Falcao in the 63rd minute – and whistled them for 23 fouls. He awarded England a penalty in the 57th minute that Harry Kane buried for England’s lead. Meanwhile, England players were only shown two yellow cards and called them for 13 fouls.

“The referee disturbed us a lot,” Colombia striker Falcao said after the match. “In the 50-50 plays, he always made the calls in favor of England. He didn’t act with the same criteria for both teams. When in doubt, he always went to the England side.”

The criticism from Falcao is slightly odd given how much Colombia looked to cause havoc with its physical play, hoping to muck up the game with the South American side missing playmaker James Rodriguez due to injury. In fact, it seemed Geiger could have punished them further at times, especially during the four minutes between the penalty decision and Kane’s attempt from the spot when Colombian players surrounded Geiger protesting furiously. Geiger did not caution a single Colombian player during the fracas.

On social media, Geiger was often criticized for losing control of the match as it seemingly devolved into a 90 minute wrestling match.

But that’s not all Falcao had to say about the American referee’s match assignment. “I found it peculiar that they put an American referee in this instance. To tell you the truth, the process leaves a lot of doubts,” he added.

Falcao was not the only one to question FIFA’s decision to appoint an American to referee the match. Outspoken Argentinian legend Diego Maradona, who was spotted wearing a Colombia jersey during the match and celebrated their late goal, said after the match, “Here’s a gentleman who decides, a referee who, if you Google him, shouldn’t be given a match of this magnitude… Geiger, an American, what a coincidence.”

Colombia thrash poor Poland, set up must-win vs. Senegal

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Colombia thrashed Poland, to the tune of 3-0, in the two sides’ must-win game in Group H play at the 2018 World Cup on Sunday, getting goals from Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado to leave their destiny in their own hands ahead of Thursday’s decisive group finale against Senegal.

Poland have been eliminated with one group game still to play.

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Colombia could have scored two or three goals in the first half, with Cuadrado and Juan Quintero causing constant problems for the left side of the Polish defense, but the necessary finishing touch was consistently lacking until Mina headed home a James Rodriguez cross in the 40th minute.

Poland offered very little, both before or after Mina’s opener, as Robert Lewandowski was effectively contained with the vast majority of his touches coming 30 yards from goal and further out. After disappointing in their tournament-opening loss to Senegal, manager Adam Nawalka made a handful of changes to his lineup — dropping the likes of Arkadiusz Milik, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Kamil Grosicki — to no avail.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Despite the scoreline remaining 1-0 for the first 25 minutes of the first half, Poland never looked threatening and were put to the sword by Falcao’s first career World Cup goal (missed the 2014 tournament due to a knee injury), courtesy of Quintero’s seeing-eye through ball.

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James played provider five minutes later, when he slotted what might just be the pass of the tournament across the field, across the Polish defense, and found a streaking Cuadrado with acres of space in front of him. From one end of the field to the other, in no time at all.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

When Colombia (3 points) meet Senegal (4 points) on Thursday, they’ll need a win to overtake them for second place, or for Poland (0 points) to beat Japan (4 points), who currently sit top of the group — but that seems highly unlikely at this point.