TAMPA, Fla. — Colombia beat the U.S. men’s national team 4-2 in an international friendly here on Thursday night in front of 38,631 fans at Raymond James Stadium, the vast majority of which were cheering for Colombia.
James Rodríguez scored the lone goal of the first half with a world-class bending finish. The game was wide-open in the second half, with the U.S. scoring terrific goals by Kellyn Acosta and Bobby Wood (the second off a gorgeous assist by Tim Weah) to take a 2-1 lead, only for Colombia to storm back with goals by Carlos Bacca, Radamel Falcao and Miguel Ángel Borja.
Michael Bradley returned to the U.S. lineup for the first time since last October’s fateful loss in Trinidad & Tobago, wearing the captain’s armband and playing the full 90 minutes in the loss.
Here are my three thoughts on the game:
• Colombia’s world-class talent, naive U.S. play made the difference
The U.S. did some inspiring things in the attack (see below), but the Americans got a little too aggressive at times in the second half, opening themselves up for the counterattack. John Brooks was caught upfield, for example, on the third Colombian goal.
James’s opening goal for Colombia was the kind of extremely bending left-footed shot from a standstill into the top corner that just doesn’t seem possible from a U.S. forward at this point. James and Falcao had some moments in this game where you could see the special talent they bring to the field. Plus, the Colombians have the pride and experience to be able to come back from being down 2-1 in a game and drop the hammer, as they did in the second half.
• The U.S. responded against top-flight opposition
After being down 1-0 at halftime, the U.S. came to life early in the second half, scoring two terrific goals against a Colombia team playing at nearly full-strength. Acosta’s finish came after a nice cross by Antonee Robinson (who nevertheless struggled on defense), and the highlight of the year for the USMNT may well be the second goal, in which Julian Green made a well-executed tackle to win the ball and Weah hit a ballsy seeing-eye pass that Wood ran onto for a fantastic finish.
Given that the U.S. was playing without Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, the two goals at least showed that the U.S. is capable of producing some good attacking play and putting the ball in the net.
• Another U.S.-based games where opposing team’s fans win out
For the third straight game, the U.S. played in an NFL stadium before a much-less-than-capacity crowd that was heavily in favor of the opposing team (Colombia on Thursday, Brazil and Mexico last month). Look, it’s nothing new for that to happen to the USMNT in the United States, and it’s a friendly, not a competitive game. But it’s still dispiriting in many ways that in the year 2018 a game like the one on Thursday still feels like an away game for the United States.