USA-Colombia: Almost like old times

The USA will face Colombia for the first time since the Cafeteros swept two games at the 2016 Copa Centenario when they meet Thursday in Tampa before what is expected to be the largest crowd it has ever drawn at Raymond James Stadium.

Here's what to look for ...

1. Guzan and Bradley back in the mix.

With the recall of Brad Guzan and Michael Bradley for the first time since it failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the USA could take on a veteran look with five starters from the Copa Centenario opener against Colombia available: DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Bobby Wood, Guzan and Bradley.

Zack Steffen has emerged as No. 1 keeper, doing nothing in starts in the last three games against France, Brazil and Mexico -- all World Cup finalists -- to suggest that he isn't the USA's goalkeeper of the future, but Guzan, who hasn't played for the USA since the 1-1 tie against Honduras in September 2017, might get the start against Colombia.

Bradley was the leader of the national team through the 2016-17 Hexagonal, and he wasn't brought back just to sit on the bench. With Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie both sidelined with injuries, Coach Dave Sarachan will need some help in central midfield, where his only other options are Wil Trapp, Kellyn Acosta and Marky Delgado.

Still, Bradley hasn't assumed he'd get another chance on the national team so he savors the chance to be back.

“I don’t think anybody ever knows that," he said, "so you enjoy every opportunity you have with the national team and you don’t ever take it for granted. For me, the opportunity to be back now and start to get to know some of the younger guys that have been around the last nine or 10 months is great. I’m very excited."

2. Opportunity for the 'next man up.'

With Christian Pulisic also missing with a calf injury, the USA will be without its three best young players. Sarachan sees the injuries as opportunities for others to step up.

“We would loved to have had those guys," said Sarachan in reference to Adams, McKennie and Pulisic, "but they are not here. Now, we got a group of 23 that are competing to have an opportunity. That is what you do when someone is not here. It is an opportunity for other players and we have a few good young candidates who are excited to be here and get that opportunity to get on the field and show what they’re about.”

In midfield, the Colombia game will be the first game for Kenny Saief since March -- injuries have set him back since his move to Anderlecht -- while Fafa Picault and 19-year-old Jonathan Amon were picked for the first time since Sarachan took charge.

3. Focus on Miazga in the back.

The first-string back four should again be Yedlin, Brooks, Matt Miazga and Antonee Robinson -- the four who started the Brazil game on Sept. 7. All four players are playing in Europe and starting, though Miazga has been struggling of late for Nantes, which he joined on loan from Chelsea.

Miazga, who has emerged as a leader of Sarachan's team, has picked up five yellow cards in all five games since the September friendlies and had the worst game of his pro career on Sunday against Bordeaux. In Vahid Halilhodzic's first game in charge for the Canaris, 19th in the 20-team Ligue 1, Miazga gifted Bordeaux its first goal and conceded a penalty that led to the second goal -- his second penalty in two games.

USA Roster:
Goalkeepers (3):
34 Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 58/0)
23 Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 2/0)
23 Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew; 5/0)

Defenders (8):
25 John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 34/3)
20 Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 0/0)
20 Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City/ENG D2; 5/0)
25 Aaron Long (NY Red Bulls; 0/0)
23 Matt Miazga (Nantes/FRA; 9/1)
21 Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic/ENG D2; 4/0)
27 Ben Sweat (New York City FC; 0/0)
25 DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 54/0)

Midfielders (9):
23 Kellyn Acosta
(Colorado Rapids; 19/1)
19 Jonathan Amon (FC Nordsjaelland/DEN; 0/0)
31 Michael Bradley (Toronto FC; 140/17)
23 Marky Delgado (Toronto FC; 3/0)
23 Julian Green (Greuther Fuerth/GER D2; 12/4)
27 Fafa Picault (Philadelphia Union; 1/0)
24 Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 2/0)
25 Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; 8/0)
18 Tim Weah (Paris St. Germain/FRA; 5/1)

Forwards (3):
22 Andrija Novakovich
(Fortuna Sittard/NED; 2/0)
18 Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 3/1)
25 Bobby Wood (Hannover 96/GER; 41/12)

Colombia Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Alvaro Montero (Tolima), David Ospina (Napoli/ITA).
DEFENDERS (8): Felipe Aguilar (Atletico Nacional), Santiago Arias (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Cristian Borja (Toluca/MEX), Deiver Machado (Atletico Nacional) Jeison Murillo (Valencia/ESP), Oscar Murillo (Pachuca/MEX), Helibelton Palacios (Atletico Nacional), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham/ENG).
MIDFIELDERS (9): Wilmar Barrios (Boca Juniors/ARG), Edwin Cardona (Boca Juniors/ARG), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus/ITA), Didier Moreno (Dep. Coruna/ESP), Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate/ARG), Juan Daniel Roa (Independiente Santa Fe), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich/GER), Mateus Uribe (Club America/MEX), Sebastian Villa (Boca Juniors/ARG).
FORWARDS (5): Carlos Bacca (Villarreal/ESP), Miguel Borja (Palmeiras/BRA), Yimmi Chara (Atletico Mineiro/BRA), Radamel Falcao (Monaco/FRA), Cucho Hernandez (Huesca/ESP).
4 comments about "USA-Colombia: Almost like old times".
  1. Wooden Ships, October 11, 2018 at 7:32 a.m.

    I always look forward to watching our national teams play. Don’t think we will see the 4-1-4-1, at least I hope not. 

  2. Albert Harris replied, October 11, 2018 at 12:55 p.m.

    What's your problem w/ the 4-1-4-1, WS...just curious?

  3. Wooden Ships replied, October 11, 2018 at 3:15 p.m.

    Albert, I just prefer two strikers combining and stretching the field centrally. High pressure in the oppenents defensive third, helps with a more positive/aggressive attack. Would like to see Novakovich and Sargent start. 

  4. R2 Dad, October 11, 2018 at 7:39 p.m.

    Is this an away match? Great crowd....of yellow shirts?

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