BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, October 13, 2010
United States vs Colombia
Friendly - Tuesday October 12, 2010
PPL Park
Following a 2-2 draw with Poland on Saturday, the United States played to a scoreless stalemate against Colombia with a dreadful offensive display in the opening half followed by an improved second half.

The game began with an odd formation with three central midfielders in Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, and Maurice Edu all getting the start.

They were joined in the midfield by Stuart Holden on the right and Brek Shea on the left who was earning his first cap. Altidore started at forward as usual.

The game did not start well for the Americans as Colombia dominated the opening minutes and created their best scoring chance of the night in the fourth minute when an Edu turnover led to a Colombian break.

Brad Guzan made a big save from point blank range in what would be his only true test of the night.

"It was a game where in the first half we changed our formation a little bit," US head coach Bob Bradley said of the initial strategy. "In that way we didn't find a good rhythm in playing out of the back and playing forward fast enough and having good options. In the first half we really felt that we couldn't put passes together that took us anywhere. Even when we put some passes together, it didn't go anywhere."

The US would continue to struggle constantly throughout the half to make things happen offensively.

Fortunately, however, the American defense led by captain Oguchi Onyewu, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Spector, and Heath Pearce were improving during the half despite the midfield struggles.

It wasn't until the 18th minute when the US would get a decent opportunity to score off a free kick taken by Holden.

The Bolton man's ball into the area found a lunging Onyewu only to see it headed just wide. Onyewu was unaware that Bradley was open behind him and could have had an easier chance.

Once the halftime break had arrived, the US realized that the game plan needed to change.

"The first half there was no flow to the game for us and we gave them too much time and space," Holden said. "I didn't think our movement was good we weren't finding the right spaces. Obviously it just wasn't a good overall half. But in the second half we talked about it and we changed some things in the locker room. From the first whistle [in the second half] we looked like a completely different team."

Bradley elected to make four changes at halftime when he removed Shea, Spector, Gooch and Edu and replaced them with Clint Dempsey, Eric Lichaj, Eddie Johnson and Michael Parkhurst.

The change in players and formation paid dividends for the US team who were able to retain a majority of the possession which led to more goal scoring opportunities.

"In the second half, I thought we got back and we played more in the way that we are accustomed," Bradley said of the change made at the half. "I thought that the flow was much better. I think that there were some good things that took place in the second half."

It was clear that one of the bright spots for the Americans in the second half was Lichaj who was earning his first international cap. Bradley was impressed with what the 21 year old Aston Villa right back had to offer to the team.

"Eric came on in the second half. We've seen in this camp that physically he's got a good burst of speed," Bradley assessed of Lichaj. "He is strong. He came in and I thought competed very well."

For Lichaj, he was happy to earn his first cap but he was not happy with the team's result.

"I think it went well," Lichaj admitted. "We didn't win and we only drew so it could have been better. It doesn't really matter about individual performances because we didn't win. It would have been better if we had played better as a team."

"Bob told me that we needed more energy because nothing was really happening in the first half," he continued. "So that is what I did. There were no nerves, I just enjoyed it."

While the US was dominating the second half, it wasn't until the 86th minute when they would get their best chance to score.

On that play, Lichaj collected the ball on the right side just outside the box. The Chicago native swung in a cross to Altidore who was open.

Altidore got his head on the ball and sent it hard on goal but right at the Colombian keeper Faryd Mondragon who made the save.

For Altidore, it marked yet another quality scoring chance during the past week that was not converted as the Villarreal striker emerged with just a single goal scored in the two matches.

Bradley was agreed that it was not the best game for the 20 year old forward.

"We believe that Jozy is a really important player going forward," Bradley said frankly. "[Against Poland[ it was a game where he should have had more than one goal but I still look at that as being a pretty good performance. Tonight, I didn't think he was as sharp."

The international window also gave Bradley a chance to observe Shea and while he feels the young FC Dallas midfielder can help the team in the future, he still must adapt to the international game.

"I think there were plays in the first half where the game was going fast for Brek," Bradley discussed. "Faster than most games he's used to. So all of a sudden it takes him a little longer to figure out where he needs to go. But that's part of the experience. I think 45 minutes is a good start."

The game did serve as another indication that the addition of Schalke central midfielder Jermaine Jones will prove to be a major bonus for the US this cycle.

The Bundesliga star played every minute of each game this week and he has left his coach pleased with what he brings to the table.

"As far Jermaine is concerned, I thought that his mentality is quite good," Bradley said of Jones. "He's a competitor and I've said all along I thought that would fit well into the way we do things. I think there is a pretty good understanding already between Jermaine and Michael [Bradley]."

The addition of Dempsey in the second half proved to be a key addition to the team's ability to attack. The distribution of the team flowed through Dempsey however the ineffectiveness of Altidore and Johnson were apparent and that is something that Bradley wants to work on at the start of the new 2014 cycle.

"I think in the second half tonight there were a number of times when as we started to flow, Clint had come inside and we were able to play through their team to Clint in a position where now he's running at people," Bradley opined. "But now the next step in this whole thing is what kind of movement happens between the players who are now in front of Clint."

Still, despite weaknesses that were apparent both tonight and against Poland on Saturday, the team did manage to play effective soccer for long periods in each game and that is something Bradley wants to take forward.

"This is the first time since the World Cup that we had a good amount of time to work together," Bradley concluded. "Indentify some things that we want to work on, find a better tempo with the ball. I think we saw some of that in the second half tonight."

The US national team will next play on November 17 when they return to South Africa to play the most recent World Cup hosts in Cape Town.
Friday October 15, 2010 4:03 pm
I agree that the first half was boring. The 4-3-3 formation was not a bad idea. I just think that Oguchi and Spector are very rusty, getting no play time. Brek was OK but seemed out of place. The players that Bob put in the 2nd half are getting playing time and it showed. Dempsey always has a lot of impact when on the field. Donnovan might be the most accomplished US player, but Dempsey is a work horse and very creative.
Jermaine is a great addition, very similar to Dempsey but in central midfield, look forward to seing these players in synch. Lichaj came in and shinned, energy flowed from him. Eddie J. actually looked better than Josy, maybe he should get the next start. I do like Josy, lots of potential but will he ever reach that potential, the excuse that he his still young is starting to get old. We need a striker, that is truly the one piece missing. If Bob can only solve that piece of the puzzle...
Mark WNY
Thursday October 14, 2010 10:36 pm
Not a bad game with an opponent that is famous for hiding the ball and cooling the game. Colombia waited for the USA to make a mistake and did not attacked them. USA had a couple of chances. Keep in mind that most Colombian players are in Europe too. I would like to see Bradley using other forwards.

Mark from West NY...
Thursday October 14, 2010 4:50 pm
Im sorry to say this but gooch bocanegra and dolo have been great to our national team but they r not going to make the cut for Brazil... So we should start looking for young defensive players that can fill those voids... Friendlies and the gold cup r the best place to try new players dont wait till qualifiers!!!!!
Thursday October 14, 2010 1:47 pm
Those wondering where the Mexican based players were, they were not released from their club teams, just like Donovan from LA, because they had games. I was glad to see Jones and Lichaj but there are others he should have included. Bradley needs to seek out the young talent or USMT won't grow at all!
Wednesday October 13, 2010 8:45 pm
Clearly our (normal) midfield is the strength of the team. Bradley, Holden and Edu continue to get better while Jones is class, and Donovan and Dempsey are in their own class as the best of their generation. The degree to which playing a 4-3-3 with 3 CMs was an abysmal failure just validates this. EJ is as clinical with his back to goal as he is ineffective facing it. People continuing ripping on Bob seem to overlook the fact that he outcoached Fabio Capello.
Bobby R
Wednesday October 13, 2010 6:05 pm
The fans were smart enough to stay away, as the total attendance was around 8,000. I'm in total agreement over the complete waste of 90 minutes of my life watching this match. Give BB credit for this much; at least he's tried new formations and new players (even though we will never, NEVER take the field in a 4-3-3 against a top team, and it wasn't a 4-3-3 anyway as noted above). Finally, my heartfelt thanks to Kyle:

"Altidore (when we don't have the ball) continues to move like my dog when she doesn't want to come back inside."

The funniest and most incisive comment I've seen in a long time.
Paul Lorinczi
Wednesday October 13, 2010 4:18 pm
Does anyone know why the Mexican players did not get called into play?

It would have been interesting to see Jermaine Jones with Paco Torres next to him. Why not give Hercules Gomez a super sub role for the NATS?

That was the biggest waste of 2 hours of my life last night.

On another subject, if Bob Bradley is going to do interviews, can US Soccer send him to speech training? I am so tired of hearing him say "ah" every sentence when he speaks. It makes me want to grab a pad and pen to start counting. Better yet, turn it into a drinking game next time he is on TV.

The US would be better served with another Coach now. Michael Bradley has been mediocre the last 2 games. His Dad is not going to take him off the field and see how "our deep" midfield looks without him.
Wednesday October 13, 2010 1:27 pm
BB had to bring Clark and Beckerman as well. In this case he could place 5 DM on the field in the same time. It would be even cooler than only 3.
BB means – brutally boring.
Wednesday October 13, 2010 1:16 pm
I know the lineup card said 4-3-3 but it was nothing close to that. Bradley did not stay on the right nor Jones on the left. They all played varying shades of a center mid. Brek Shea did not take a single touch forward and contributed nothing. Stu was made irrelevant from the logjam in the middle. Altidore (when we don't have the ball) continues to move like my dog when she doesn't want to come back inside. This game was an abomination and painful to watch. I recognize it was experimental but we should still look respectable and be able to put more than 1 shot on goal. In short, it was 90 minutes of my life I will never get back
Wednesday October 13, 2010 1:10 pm
boring game.
just shows what the national team is up to for the next four yrs. with BB. and his boss Gulati.... completely defensive playing. just lateral or back passes, and thats the highlight of the game!!!.
Colombia had better scoring options...
where is the offensive tactic for this game? all they're worried is to not get a goal against.
This is just unacceptable and fans should stop going to these sorry a.. games, to show discontent with coaching and USSF.

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