In the Dave Sarachan
era, the USA has gotten several decent results -- 1-0 win over archrival Mexico, 1-1 tie with 2018 World Cup champion France, 1-1 tie with 2016 European champion Portugal
-- giving a false sense of hope about how close the national team remains to the world's elite.
Thursday's 4-2 defeat to Colombia, on the other hand, exposed the gap between the USA and a
top 10 team like the Cafeteros. The USA briefly led in the second half, 2-1, but Colombia came back with a devastating display of individual and collective talent to score three goals and win
The U.S. defense was constantly exposed, and the U.S. attack created little besides the goals by Kellyn Acosta
and Bobby Wood
. In contrast to recent outings, the
Colombia game marked the first time the young U.S. players looked discouraged, perhaps aware of the wide gap that exists between them and the Cafeteros with James Rodriguez
, Radamel Falcao
and Carlos Bacca
, all established international stars.
Here's how the game went ... 1. U.S. comeback goes for naught.
In the nine games the USA has played since failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, five have been against teams that not
only went to Russia but reached at least the second round.
And of those five, the USA has now led four of them. Tonight's first game marked the first time, though, it did not get a result
after leading. It led all of three minutes after Tim Weah
played a ball into Wood's path for the go-ahead goal in the 53th minute.
The left side of the U.S. defense never had any
answer for Santiago Arias
, and the Atletico Madrid right back fed Bacca for the equalizer. Colombia exposed the U.S. defense with both its speed and skill, going ahead on Radamel
's goal off a rapid counterattack in the 74th minute and putting the game away on Miguel Borja
's bicycle kick five minutes later. 2. Bradley can't stem the tide.
's performance in his first game back since Couva personified his recent form with Toronto FC. In central midfield, he has an awareness and calmness about him that his
heirs apparent, Tyler Adams
and Weston McKennie
, are still developing, and he used it to help develop the attack that led to Acosta's tying goal.
But he was exposed on the
third goal, unable to break up the Colombia counterattack off a U.S. set piece at the other end that led to the third Colombia goal -- a play you'd often see him make with regularity, as recently as
last year in the Hexagonal.
Thursday's game was the 141st of Bradley's international career, tying him with Clint Dempsey
for third on the all-time U.S list behind only Cobi
(164) and Landon Donovan
(157). It won't be his last, but it is hard to imagine him overtaking Jones or Donovan. 3.
Flank play suffers at both ends.
Like against Brazil in the Meadowlands a month ago, Antonee Robinson
endured a nightmare on the defensive end at left back. Time
and again, Kenny Saief
and Robinson were unable to contain Colombia forays down its right side.
Robinson atoned himself with another cross into the area that set up Acosta for the
first U.S. goal -- like his ball that led to Tyler Adams
' winning goal against Mexico. But it was a rare move from the wings for the USA.
Right back DeAndre Yedlin
quiet in attack, while in midfield Saief and Weah created little from the outside. With his work on the Wood goal, Weah again showed how dangerous he can be in the open field but was totally invisible
in the first half from a set position on the wing.