Colombia vs. USA: Score, Grades and Reaction from International Friendly

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2014

AP Images

James Rodriguez and his Colombia team-mates grabbed a dramatic late winner in London, as they narrowly won 2-1 over a resilient USA national team.

The match was played at Fulham's Craven Cottage ground and the Colombian side put in a fine attacking performance throughout the 90 minutes.

Colombia started the game faster than their American opponents but could not find the initial breakthrough.

Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

Against the run of play, it was the Americans who took the early lead through a goal from Sunderland striker Jose Altidore.

The forward slotted away a penalty kick after a handball by Pablo Armero was called by the referee.

The strike was a milestone for Altidore who moved up the ranks of the USA's greatest ever goalscorers, as highlighted by ESPN's Paul Carr:

Midway through the half, the Colombians started to regroup and dominate territory in an attempt to get an equaliser. 

And it nearly came from the magic feet of Real Madrid superstar Rodriguez, who put a free-kick just wide of Brad Guzan's goal in the 21st minute.

The South Americans continued to gain momentum as Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado started to take control of the ball and attack the USA defence.

Sevilla forward Carlos Bacca went close for Colombia, as he smashed his shot off the post in the 33rd minute of play.

Colombia continued to pile on the pressure, the United States held firm and protected their goal to go into the dressing rooms at half-time with a 1-0 lead.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14:  Jermaine Jones of the USA avoids Carlos Bacca of Colombia during the International Friendly between the USA and Colombia at Craven Cottage on November 14, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The second half began very much how the first ended, with Cuadrado and Co. piling on the pressure.

The breakthrough finally came for the Colombians on the hour mark with a goal from the impressive Bacca.

The striker played an unconventional one-two with Rodriguez and then coolly rounded Guzan to slot the ball home, deservedly levelling the score 1-1.

There was some dispute about whether the goal would be called offside, as described by Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl:

The Colombians then went looking for the winner, but it was the United States that came close next. Substitute Lee Nguyen burst into the box in the 81st minute, forcing Colombia goalkeeper Camilo Vargas to make a last ditch save.

Football analyst Ben Jata described Nguyen's chance as the USA's "best look at a goal all game":

But the Colombians refused to let their dominance slip away and in the 87th minute grabbed their second of the match. This time, it was River Plate forward Teofilo Gutierrez.

The assist came from the feet of Edwin Cardona who provided the extra quality at just the vital time, after some great movement from James and company.

Gutierrez's goal was the final blow of the match and the contest ended 2-1 in favor of a jubilant Colombia.

Grades

James Rodriguez: B

Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

The top goalscorer of the 2014 World Cup showed flashes of brilliance Friday, as he displayed on countless occasions the depth of his talent to make life for USA complicated.

The Galactico was a constant threat from the earliest moments of the match, but the Americans did a decent job limiting his space and restricting his general involvement off the ball.

But once on the ball, James' influence was clear. His work before the second goal helped decide the scoreline.

Rodriguez will surely go on to be one of the great players in European football in the next few seasons, and he showed tonight why Madrid paid so much money to grab him from Monaco in the summer.

USA: C

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14:  USA Manager Jurgen Klinsmann watches his team during the International Friendly between the USA and Colombia at Craven Cottage on November 14, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

It was a strange night for the Americans who probably scored too early in the match, which stopped them from developing an attacking flow as they defended their lead.

They lacked flair, as function appeared to be the order of the day rather than form. This was not surprising considering the world-class talent of their opponents.

The Americans are still a developing side, and they are not on the level of the Colombians, who might have travelled even further at last summer's World Cup if they could have produced their very best form.

It was an average night in terms of performance, but if the USA could have held on longer to their lead, they might have stolen a second on the counter.

Reaction

ESPN's Jeff Carlisle quoted USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann's post-match comments, as the German coach both questioned his team's performance and defended his own tactics.

He spoke about his side's lack of ball retention but backed his tactic of playing a longer ball forward:

However, Klinsmann stated that his side was able to dictate the game's tempo, and the result was perhaps a little harsh on the Americans, per Carlisle.

Goal.com's Ivan Galarcep commented after the match how much Colombia deserved their hard-fought win and how the USA's players had a mixed night on the pitch:

Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl was impressed by some of the actions of the United States midfield, but he also conceded that Colombia were the better team:

The game was a useful test for the United States, as they could measure themselves against a very exciting Colombian side. James Rodriguez is the type of talented individual the USA simply do not have, but they lived with the Colombians for large periods of the game.

The lack of invention finally made the Americans pay, but they were unlucky to fall to such a late winner.

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