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USA vs. Colombia, 2018 friendly: What we learned

There was a few things that need a lot of work, but there is also cause for optimism.

Colombia v United States Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Last night, the United States Men’s National Team fought valiantly, but ultimately lost 4-2 to Colombia at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Goals by Kellyn Acosta and Bobby Wood within 3 minutes of each other early in the 2nd half were enough to give them the lead, but they couldn’t hold onto it for long. Later, Colombia was able to get the goals they needed to make the result feel more lopsided.

So, what can we take away from last night’s performance by the USMNT?

The left side was not the strong side.

The left side of the field had a very bad night at the office, led by Antonee Robinson. Robinson has emerged over the past year as probably our best left back, and when the lineups were announced, most people felt somewhat at ease with the back line of Robinson, Matt Miazga, John Brooks, and DeAndre Yedlin. But, Colombia exposed the left side of that line, consistently sending long balls and through balls over Robinson’s head and watching James Rodriguez and other Colombian attackers consistently beat him to the ball. It’s really the first time we’ve seen Robinson have a “Not Great, Bob!” day at the office since he’s emerged as the starter, and he’s going to learn from his mistakes last night. He also was missing midfielders like Weston McKennie who he clearly has had ample time to learn to gel with over the last year and who normally helped provided cover for fast wingers. Kenny Saief and Robinson clearly didn’t have great communication.

They’ll work on that. Every player has a night like Robinson had last night at some point. Let’s hope Tuesday is a better day for him.

Speed kills, but grit always wins.

The speed that Colombia possessed really made for a rough night for American defenders, as they consistently got behind the back line and caused problems in the final third. Still, Colombia’s world class speed combined with their possession just decimated the USMNT for a majority of the night. But, America also showed some grit and determination, and that led to some wonderful moments. At the end of the first half, with Colombia already up 1-0 thanks to 2014 James showing up in 2018, James had another opportunity to add to his tally. He once again shot behind the defense, had the ball on his left foot and sent the ball past Zack Steffen. Steffen got a paw on it, but it was the determination of Matt Miazga to help out that kept the ball out of the net, as he finally got back and was able to chip the ball away to save it. That was a great play that gave the Yanks a tiny bit of momentum entering halftime.

Their response early in the 2nd half should give every fan cause for hope. Kellyn Acosta’s determination to win the ball on the 1st goal should not go unmentioned. He pressed forward about 25 yards on the cross from Antonee Robinson to beat Deiver Machado to the ball (who was about 3 yards away from where Acosta ended up hitting it).

That’s a tremendous effort by Acosta. He wasn’t quicker than Machado, but his reaction to the play was faster and his determination to get to the ball before Machado did created a great goal.

Three minutes later, it was Bobby Wood’s turn. The Americans lost the ball at midfield, but Julian Green showed some grit to win the ball back. He then sends the ball out to Tim Weah on the left flank, who goes down and provides a sensational pass to Bobby Wood for the finish.

This goal is great because Weah provides an incredible ball for Wood to finish. If you notice, Wood started that play behind the Colombian back line. He kept moving with the ball and when he saw an opening, he pounced. He didn’t fly by the Colombian defense. He just wanted it more. That’s what the team needs to show for 90 minutes, because that sort of grit is what will win matches.

The kids need more experience.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but the experience needs to come not just in USMNT camp. These sort of moments and lessons will also be learned with their clubs as well. You could tell that some of the players had a bit of game rust from not featuring for their clubs, so they haven’t had the chance to learn how to combat world class speed or how to communicate when the opposing side has incredible finishers inside the box, where the passing holes are and how fast they can close when you’re dealing with great defenders. That’s going to come with more time on the field, more experience against terrific opposition, and more failures. The result may not have been there, but this team can take a lot from this match and apply it moving forward.

The United States moves onto Hartford, where they will take on Peru Tuesday night. What lessons do you think they should take on the plane to Connecticut from last night’s performance?