Three big storylines for USA-Colombia

[INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY] The USA will look to close out a World Cup year on a high note, at least higher than it did in 2003, its best year ever with a record 16 wins, when it finished up with a loss to Austria and tie with Scotland in season-ending friendlies.

The first of its two opponents to close out 2014 is of another level altogether. The USA faces Colombia, featuring World Cup star James Rodriguez, on Friday at London's Craven Cottage.

1. Will USA raise its game?

The USA is unbeaten since the World Cup -- 1-0 win over the Czech Republic and 1-1 ties with Ecuador and Honduras -- but frankly, it did not look good at all in the second of the two home games in October against Catrachos after Jozy Altidore put it ahead in the first half.

Heading into 2015 and the Gold Cup it will host, the USA looks to be in danger of falling into the third spot of a ranking of Concacaf teams, behind 2014 World Cup quarterfinalist Costa Rica and Mexico, which showed with its 3-2 win at the Netherlands that it's ready to raise its game. Can the USA follow suit?

Jurgen Klinsmann always talks about players challenging themselves and taking the game to the next level. They'll get their chance against Colombia, one of the best teams at the 2014 World Cup.

2. Nguyen gets his big chance.

Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley aren't in London. Nor is Landon Donovan for that matter. That leaves Altidore all by his lonesome up front unless he gets some help. This will be a big chance, then, for Lee Nguyen, who arrived in London with a run of six straight MLS games with at least one goal.

It will be more than seven years between caps -- the longest gap of any player Klinsmann has called up and the third longest gap between caps of any U.S. player in the modern era -- and Nguyen should get a chance to show what he can do as a second forward behind Altidore in the role Donovan and Dempsey have played in the last two games.

The Gap Years:
Marcus Hahnemann (8 years, 5 months, 1994-2003)
Ramiro Corrales (7 years, 9 months, 1997-2004)
Dale Ervine (7 years, 1 months, 1986-1993)
Nick Rimando (7 years, 2003-10)
John Thorrington (6 years, 11 months, 2001-08)
Bruce Savage (6 years, 7 months, 1984-91)
John Kerr Jr. (6 years, 4 months, 1988-94)
Robin Fraser (5 years, 10 months, 2001-07)
Troy Snyder (5 years, 10 months, 1985-91)
Nat Borchers  (5 years, 7 months, 2004-10)
Jesse Marsch (5 years, 5 months, 2001-07)

3. The Jones experiment continues.

Klinsmann called in many of his thirtysomethings, national team veterans who'll unlikely be around for 2018 but whom he wants to mentor his young players. He singled out Kyle Beckerman, DaMarcus Beasley, Nick Rimando and Jermaine Jones as players whose jobs it is to help in the transition.

For now, the one veteran who very much fits into Klinsmann's plans is Jones. The German-American should again start at center back, like he did for the first time against Honduras in October. The other center backs are in camp -- Matt Besler, John Brooks and Geoff Cameron -- so they'll likely split starting roles -- Jones and one of the three in the Colombia game and the other two against Ireland four days later.

Klinsmann will likely release the three MLS players still involved in the playoffs -- Jones and Nguyen for New England and DeAndre Yedlin for Seattle -- after the Colombia game so they can prepare for the conference finals

A photo posted by U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) on

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (4): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).
DEFENDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Hamburg), Alfredo Morales (FC Ingolstadt), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution).
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Jordan Morris (Stanford Univ.), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes).

2 comments about "Three big storylines for USA-Colombia".
  1. Vince Leone, November 13, 2014 at 2:55 p.m.

    What, no enraged comments by Donovan fans????

  2. Albert Harris, November 13, 2014 at 3:25 p.m.

    No, Vince. We'll just let the Donovan haters rave on that men may know them mad.

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