BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, October 11, 2010
The United States national team will look to win for the first time after this summer's World Cup when they face Colombia in a friendly match on Tuesday night in their first ever game at Philadelphia's brand new PPL Park.
The US enters the game on the heels of 2-2 draw with Poland on Saturday night in Chicago in which Jozy Altidore and Oguchi Onyewu scored for the Americans.
The US performance against the Poles was certainly mixed with some clear strengths and obvious weaknesses on display. The Americans were able to create numerous quality chances but finishing proved to be weak.
Altidore scored early for the US but the 20 year old New Jersey native squandered numerous other chances that he is usually expected to capitalize on.
The US defense was also shaky against the Poles and individual breakdowns led to both goals. Onyewu appeared rusty having not played much since recovering from his serious knee injury that he suffered last October in World Cup qualifying.
Maurice Edu's first start with the national team in central defense also was uneven. Normally a defensive midfielder, Edu was exposed in the first half by the Polish attack but he grew stronger as the game progressed including his distribution, from the backline which was consistently sharp.
On Tuesday night the US is expected to mix up the lineup. Captain Carlos Bocanegra has returned to his club Saint-Étienne and will not play against Colombia.
The FC Dallas duo of Heath Pearce and Brek Shea are set to join the US with Shea looking for his first ever international cap.
US head coach Bob Bradley is likely to also give time to defenders Eric Lichaj, Jonathan Spector, and Michael Parkhurst who did not take part in the game against Poland.
The US midfield will likely stay the same with Schalke central midfielder Jermaine Jones to anchor the squad after a strong first ever cap for the Stars and Stripes on Saturday.
He is expected to be surrounded by regulars Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Stuart Holden whom all started against Poland.
Altidore should once again start on Tuesday at forward while Fulham's Eddie Johnson could also see his first minutes for the US since a pre-World Cup friendly against the Czech Republic.
At goalkeeper, Tim Howard could start but Aston Villa's Brad Guzan is almost certain to see minutes.
Against the 40th ranked Colombia on Tuesday, the US will face a talented young team that is coming off a 1-0 victory against Ecuador on Saturday. In that game, FC Porto forward Radamel Falcao scored the winning goal in the 88th.
Colombia's 20-man roster for these games features six players currently playing in the Colombian First Division, 11 players currently playing in Europe, two players based in Mexico and one in Argentina.
The Colombian defense will be led by the talented 24 year old fullback Juan Camilo Zúñiga who currently plays with Napoli in Serie A. Veterans Iván Córdoba and Mario Yepes are also expected to start for Los Cafeteros.
Giovanni Moreno is expected to lead the Colombian midfield after getting off to an impressive start with Racing Club of the Argentine Primera División.
In addition to Falcao, Colombia is bringing a talented group of young forwards to Philadelphia which include Carlos Quintero of Mexico's Santos Laguna, Teófilo Gutiérrez of Turkey's Trabzonspor and Adrian Ramos of Hertha Berlin.
The US and Colombia last played on July 5, 2007 in group play at the Copa America in Venezuela. In that game Colombia defeated an undermanned US team 1-0.