U.S. SOC­CER

The Maui News - - SPORTS - By MARK DIDTLER The As­so­ci­ated Press

AMER­I­CANS LOSE FRIENDLY TO COLOMBIA, 4-2 •

TAMPA, Fla. — This loss did not sting for Michael Bradley, far dif­fer­ent from the pre­vi­ous one.

Car­los Bacca, Radamel Fal­cao and Miguel Borja scored sec­ond-half goals to lead Colombia over the U.S. men’s soc­cer team 4-2 on Thurs­day in an ex­hi­bi­tion that marked the re­turn of Bradley to the na­tional team fol­low­ing a oneyear ab­sence.

“Per­son­ally to step on the field again, to have an­other chance to rep­re­sent my coun­try, that part never gets old,” Bradley said. “Games like this are an im­por­tant part of the process. You play against a team like Colombia, if the way you deal with cer­tain ad­van­tages they have isn’t quite good enough then they can pun­ish you.”

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).

“On the whole, a very solid night,” in­terim coach Dave Sarachan said. “Michael is still a guy that has played in big games, noth­ing fazes him. He’s try­ing to carry him­self and do his job along with mak­ing sure he’s help­ing the guys along­side him. When they started throw­ing num­bers for­ward, it’s just not on Michael. He needed some help on ei­ther side, left and right.”

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: 20year-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 Bruce Arena quit af­ter the loss in Trinidad.

The U.S. has three wins, three losses and three ties un­der Sarachan, who also will lead the team for Tues­day’s ex­hi­bi­tion against Peru in East Hart­ford, Conn. 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 a 4-0 loss at Costa Rica in a 2016 World Cup qual­i­fier that caused the U.S. Soc­cer Fed­er­a­tion to fire coach Jur­gen Klins­mann and bring back Arena.

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

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.

“I thought the re­sponse be­gin­ning the sec­ond half to put the game back in on terms was very good,” Bradley said. “No­body should feel de­feated in any way. It’s ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s un­der­stand­ing what it’s like when you play against these teams.”

AP photo

Bobby Wood of the U.S. scores a goal as he gets past Colombia’s Deiver Machado and Jel­son Murillo dur­ing the sec­ond half of an in­ter­na­tional friendly Thurs­day.

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