The result also marked the first U.S. home loss since March 12, 1999, when the Americans fell to Mexico as part of the Nike U.S. Cup ?99. Despite the end of the almost two-year unbeaten home friendly streak, the U.S. still holds an unbeaten streak for domestic World Cup qualifiers, with the last loss coming way back on May 31, 1985 to Costa Rica in Torrance, Calif.
The U.S. will put that streak on the line when they begin the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying versus Mexico on Feb. 28 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Ohio. That match, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Telemundo, will be the first of 10 for the United States in the six-team group, from which the region's three representatives for the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan will be determined.
A large percentage of the game's first half was played in the middle third of the field, where passing combinations were abundant. But neither team could sustain momentum toward the other team's goal, due in large part to the physical nature of the play and the number of fouls committed by both teams. Combined fouls outnumbered total shots on goal in the half by a whopping margin of 27 to 2.
The USA lineup was bolstered by the return of midfielder Cobi Jones, who made his first start of the year after missing the China game last weekend. Jones sprung Chris Albright on goal in the 49th minute with a great through ball to set up one of the best scoring chances of the first hour, but the tough-angle shot was scooped up by Colombia goalkeeper Farid Mondragon.
"I think we did some very good things for some long stretches of the game, but we didn't have the ability to break down their defense in the last third of the field," said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena, who lost on American soil for just the second time in his U.S. reign. "We did a good job of getting in and breaking up their plays. I think we fell asleep a little bit on the goal, but overall we did a good job defensively. Overall our performance was much better this week than last week."
Colombia scored the game's first goal after attacking the left side of the American defense. Nestor Salazar received a pass from near midfield and angled toward the corner flag before pulling up and spotting Freddy Grisales moving into the middle of the 18-yard box. Grisales calmly took a touch on the ball toward goal and cracked a shot from eight yards out past a helpless Tony Meola.
"We got caught out of shape on a counterattack," said defender Jeff Agoos, who earned his 106th international cap. "I went out to mark the guy who had the ball, and he slipped one inside and past me to a runner coming through. Unfortunately, Greg (Vanney) couldn't get back and connect with it. The guy ran through and hit one. It was a bad goal to give up and we have to be better on those kinds of plays."
Defender and Colombia team captain Gerado Bedoya nearly doubled the visitor's lead in the 55th minute, but his low blast sailed just wide of the right post. Just seconds later, Salazar, who assisted on the winner, slammed a shot on goal, forcing Meola to make a save as the game opened up into an attacking, back-and-forth match.
Jones nearly set up the equalizer in the 62nd minute, switching Greg Vanney's pass back across the box to Clint Mathis, who blasted a shot on goal from close range. The rebound fell to Albright, but his hurried shot sailed high over the bar. The U.S. made second-half adjustments and brought on flank midfielder Chris Klein and the fresh legs of speedy midfielder Richie Williams, in addition to Josh Wolff for Clint Mathis in the 63rd minute, but failed to cash in with a goal.
The U.S. will resume training camp in preparation of their World Cup qualifier against Mexico on Feb. 16 in Ft. Lauderdale, where the team will train through Feb. 24. The U.S. squad will arrive in Columbus for their final preparations on Saturday, Feb. 25.
2001 U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Men's National Team vs. Colombia National Team|
|Venue:||The Orange Bowl - Miami, Fla.|
|Date:||February 3, 2001 - Kickoff 4 p.m. ET|
|Weather:||82 degrees (partly cloudy, humid)|
COL - Freddy Grisales, (Nestor Salazar), 53.
USA - 1-Tony Meola; 12-Jeff Agoos, 4-Greg Vanney (21-Richie Williams, 80), 23-Eddie Pope, 16-Carlos Llamosa (Capt.); 7-DaMarcus Beasley (17-Chris Klein, 72), 14-Chris Armas, 6-Clint Mathis (9-Josh Wolff, 63), 13-Cobi Jones; 11-Chris Albright, 22-Landon Donovan.
COL - 22-Farid Mondragon; 16-Jerson Gonzalez, 15-Wilmer Ortegon, 20-Gerado Bedoya (Capt.);13- Arley Dinas (7-Carlos Castro, 83), 21-Felipe Arce (18-David Ferreira, 33; 3-Luis Asprilla, 93+), 11-Luis Alberto Garcia, 8-Freddy Girisales; 4-Alexander Viveros (14-Ivan Lopez, 78), 9-Julian Vasquez (17-Rubiel Quintana, 75), 19-Nestor Salazar.
|Felipe Arce (caution)||12th minute.|
|Clint Mathis (caution)||59.|
|Luis Alberto Garcia (caution)||91+.|
|Farid Mondragog (caution)||91+.|
|Cheverolet Man of the Match: Chris Armas|