Mea culpa. My bad. I was wrong. We’re going to have to get over this one together as a nation. Somehow Jermaine Jones defied all my predictions, avoided any and all sharp utensils at the pregame meal, and made it out onto the pitch with his new teammates on Saturday night. Furthermore, he resisted the urge to break his legs in the kick around before the match, and somehow, someway, actually played for the United States Men’s National Soccer Team. I’ve predicted many times on this site that everyone’s favorite promise of future glory would never put foot to ball for the USMNT, and I’ve never before been (so glad to be) wrong. Not only did Jermaine play, he shoved my prediction in my face and actually lived up to his billing over 90 minutes, assisting on the first goal and bringing a rare level of on-ball composure to the American center, in addition to playing a physically tough match. Bravo Jermaine, more of the same please!
So what else should we be watching for going into this match with our South American foes? Other than the lovely PPL Park? How about more of the same forward thinking new formation out of Bob Bradley? TYAC’s own Raf Crowley touted it, and then wrote about how it actually looked when employed by the Yanks against Poland; you should read about here. Look for more scintillating build up play and hopefully some better finishing against Colombia. I know everyone from Sam’s Army to the American Outlaw would love to see Jozy’s first half finish become more commonplace and his second half botched attempt along with the end of match bout of U.S.A. Noggin Pinball become exceptions to the rule.
And of course no new formation is complete without certain inherent weaknesses. I fear the counterattack will be an even bigger problem for the Yanks in this game, and if you thought soccer’s version of The Big Lebowski looked fast on the way to Tim Howard’s box after each U.S. attack, then get ready for all ten outfield players on the Bogata All-Stars to blur like The Flash. The counterattack is defensible, but it’s how quickly our boys learn to deal with it that’ll dictate their defensive record within this form. The speedy Colombians will be a great test in this respect, kind of like warping straight to world eight the second time you ever play Super Mario Bros.
The lineup will also give us something to watch, as it almost always does in these not-quite-friendly matches. What kind of team will we start? Seasoned and tried, or something more experimental? Our starting wing defenders have jetted back to their respective European club teams, so who will we see at the sideback spots? Jonathan Spector? Heath Pearce? Mo Edu? Eric Lichaj?! And who will wear the captain’s armband with Boca back in France? Gooch? Dempsey? Timmy? Eric Lichaj!?
Colombian Player to Watch: Radamel Falcao García Zárate, or as you’ll come to know him, simply Falcao (fal-CYOW!). This dude is 24 years old, and he’s already a bad, bad man. Think Sergio Agüero, but with even more kickass hair. The striker’s goal beat Ecuador at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey on Saturday, and his goal scoring record at Porto over the course of the past year is ree-donkulous! Twenty-seven golazos in 34 appearances; them’s high school numbers. I fear Howard or Guzan will be the victim of an El Tigre moment of brilliance.
American Player to Watch: Maurice Edu. We all know Mo’s versatile, but I don’t think anyone predicted his center half debut on Saturday night. Is Bobbo in love with this concept or will Edu’s position switch be as brief as DaMarcus Beasley’s survey of left back? Mo will almost certainly see time on Tuesday night, the only question is at which position(s). I don’t think he’ll be deployed as a forward, but beyond that, all bets are off.
Documentary to Watch: The Two Escobars. If you’re a reader of The Yanks Are Coming it’s safe to assume that you choose your media well, and are probably already familiar with the four letter network’s outstanding 30 for 30 documentary series, but it’s definitely no crime to have missed one or ten here and there. If you haven’t seen this tale of drugs, soccer, and two very interesting dudes named Escobar, then do like Puck and I did; down a liter of Jameson and enjoy a damn fine film.
Prediction: America 3 – 2 Colombia
Time to start knocking ‘em in boys. The defense in the system from last match will have to sort itself out along the way, but knowing Bob Bradley, we won’t stick with this unfamiliar formation very long if the goals don’t come in bunches… fortunately, they can.
Jon Levy is co-founder and Senior Writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can find him on Twitter at @TYAC_Jon.