Bradley’s re­turn doesn’t lift U.S.

The Star Democrat - - SPORTS -

Colom­bia 4 — U.S. 2

TAMPA, FLA. (AP) — Car­los Bacca, Radamel Fal­cao and Miguel Borja scored sec­ond-half goals to lead Colom­bia over the United States 4-2 on Thurs­day night in an ex­hi­bi­tion that marked the re­turn of Amer­i­can cap­tain Michael Bradley to the na­tional team fol­low­ing a one-year ab­sence.

James Ro­driguez put Colom­bia ahead with a pretty curl­ing shot from just in­side the penalty area in the 36th, but the U.S. re­grouped and took a 2-1 lead on goals by Kel­lyn Acosta in the 50th minute and Bobby Wood in the 53rd.

Bacca tied the score three min­utes later, and Fal­cao put Colom­bia ahead in the 74th on a coun­ter­at­tack be­gun by Ro­driguez’s clear­ance that went nearly half the length of the field. Borja scored on a scis­sors kick while fall­ing in the 79th.

The U.S. has three wins, three losses and three ties un­der in­terim coach Dave Sarachan, who also will lead the team for Tues­day’s ex­hi­bi­tion against Peru in East Hart­ford, Con­necti­cut. A new coach is ex­pected to be hired later this year, and Gregg Ber­hal­ter of Ma­jor League Soc­cer’s Colum­bus Crew is the fa­vorite.

The Amer­i­cans had not al­lowed four goals since 4-0 loss at Costa Rica in a Novem­ber 2016 World Cup qual­i­fier that caused the U.S. Soc­cer Fed­er­a­tion to fire coach Jur­gen Klins­mann and bring back Bruce Arena.

“We let our­selves down a lit­tle bit in terms of that mid­dle part of the sec­ond half,” Bradley said.

Bradley was dropped from the na­tional team along with most veter­ans af­ter the loss at Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 10 last year that ended the Amer­i­cans’ streak of seven straight World Cup ap­pear­ances. The 31-year-old mid­fielder, who hopes to play a role in qual­i­fy­ing for the 2022 World Cup, made his 141st in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ance, ty­ing Clint Dempsey for third on the Amer­i­can list be­hind Cobi Jones (164) and Lan­don Dono­van (157).

Goal­keeper Brad Guzan also was back for the first time in a year but the 34-year-old was on the bench as 23-year-old Zack St­ef­fen started his fourth straight U.S. match.

A trio of top young Amer­i­can mid­field­ers missed the game be­cause of in­juries: 20-year-olds Chris­tian Pulisic (torn calf mus­cle) and We­ston McKen­nie (right ad­duc­tor mus­cle), and 19-year-old Tyler Adams (back spasms).

Ben Sweat, a 27-year-old left back from nearby Palm Har­bor, en­tered in the 75th minute and be­came the 19th player to make his de­but un­der Sarachan, who took over when Arena quit af­ter the loss in Trinidad.

Colom­bia, elim­i­nated by Eng­land on penalty kicks in the World Cup’s round of 16, went ahead on Ro­driguez’s the 22nd goal in 67 ap­pear­ances, his first since a World Cup qual­i­fier at Peru on Oct. 10 last year.

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