A young United States national soccer team will again be tested against Latin American opposition when they host Colombia in the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Thursday (7:30 PM ET, live on FS1 / Univision).
After matches against Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil and Mexico already this calendar year, this international break brings encounters with Colombia and Peru. While these fixtures make commercial sense due to large immigrant populations, they also provide quality opposition.
After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the focus has very much been on youth for the USMNT over the last year or so. In his eight matches in interim charge to date, coach Dave Sarachan has sought to establish a core group of young players who can lead the national team forward into the next four-year cycle and beyond.
The squad for this international break features many of the names that are now becoming familiar. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga are again there in defence, as is Will Trapp in midfield and the rapid Timothy Weah as an attacking option.
In addition to players in their mid-twenties with a bit more international experience – the likes of John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin and Bobby Wood – they are the building blocks for the future. Another is Tyler Adams, the midfielder who scored the winning goal in the 1-0 win against Mexico last month but who will unfortunately miss out this time around through injury, as will the Germany-based pair of Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie.
It is a decent-looking group and one into which a further four uncapped players have been added this time around. Sarachan is taking full advantage of this series of ultimately meaningless friendlies to gain first-hand impressions of as many young players as possible. With the selection process for a new permanent head coach still ongoing, he will most probably still be in charge for next month’s matches against England and Italy.
Colombia are also without a new head coach following the departure of Jose Pekerman in the wake of their World Cup last-16 exit to England. The Argentinian led the national team to two consecutive World Cups, including their best-ever performance in reaching the quarter-final in Brazil in 2014, and will not be an easy act to follow.
Interim coach Arturo Reyes handed debuts to seven different players across a 2-1 victory over Venezuela and a 0-0 draw with Argentina in a pair of friendlies in the United States last month. He has called up four more previously uncapped players this time around, with Watford-owned, Huesca striker Juan Camilo Hernandez the most interesting of them.
There is, though, still a clear thread of experience running through his 24-man squad. Goalkeeper David Ospina, full-back Santiago Arias, midfielders Juan Cuadrado and James Rodriguez and strikers Carlos Bacca and Radamel Falcao remain important players. Twelve of their 23-man World Cup squad is still present. It is in select positions, notably at left-back, and on the periphery of the starting XI that the main experiments are taking place.
Whoever eventually takes over – Carlos Quieroz, the ex-Iran and Real Madrid coach has been heavily linked – will obviously have their own ideas about which players will best fit their preferred style of play. By trialing a number of new options, Reyes hopes at least to provide some additional information for the new man to take into consideration.
Colombia have emerged victorious on each of the last three occasions these two sides have met, with Bacca scoring in two of those triumphs, and in four of the last five, while the last win for the United States in this fixture came back in 2005. Interestingly, Team USA have never defeated Colombia outside of California – their only other win being their infamous victory in Pasadena during the 1994 World Cup.
While recent soccer friendlies have provided some promise for the future of the USMNT, Colombia are currently the better side and have selected a strong-enough squad to give them a good chance of coming out on top on Thursday.
Our Betting Preview’s United States vs. Colombia Predictions & Picks Verdict
Currently the USMNT vs Colombia prediction and pick that we prefer most, having looked through the offerings of all the legal offshore US sports betting websites, is:
- Bet on Colombia -1/2 on the spread @ -111 with BetOnline.