LONDON (AP) — For the third straight game, the United States wilted under late pressure.
Teofilo “Teo” Gutierrez headed in a tiebreaking goal in the 87th minute, and Colombia rallied to beat the United States 2-1 Friday night in an exhibition at Fulham’s Craven Cottage
“In a way, you’ve got to be men. We’ve got to grow up a bit,” American forward Jozy Altidore said. “We didn’t match that intensity in the second half.”
Altidore converted a penalty kick in the 10th minute, his 25th international goal, after Jermaine Jones headed the ball into the penalty area toward Rubio Rubin, who made his international debut. The ball struck the left arm of Pablo Armero.
Third-ranked Colombia tied the score in the 60th when James Rodriguez sent a through ball toward Gutierrez, who was in an offside position. Gutierrez didn’t touch the ball, Carlos Bacca ran onto it, went wide to his right and scored from 6 yards.
And on a night when west London felt more like a part of Colombia with thousands of fans in yellow giving the team raucous support, Gutierrez scored the winner against Brad Guzan. It came off a cross from Edwin Cardona, who played the ball over Julian Green into the penalty area.
“At the start of the second half,” American midfielder Alejandro Bedoya said, “I don’t know what it is, if it’s a type of mentality, but we fall back a little bit, drop too deep and let them play a little bit more, stop being as physical and aggressive.”
The Americans conceded late goals in a pair of 1-1 ties at home last month, in the 88th minute against Ecuador and the 86th against Honduras.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann attributed the late goals to lack of conditioning at this point in the European club season.
“We had many players struggling after the World Cup to get back into shape, especially European players,” he said. “We had quite a few European players losing their starting spots. Right now they’re on the way to getting them back, but it took quite a long time, because they came late in the preseason, so they’re not as fit yet to claim right away their starting spots. Jozy is a good example, Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler, John Brooks, Julian Green — all of them, they struggled.”
Altidore has scored just once for Sunderland this season and hasn’t started any Premier League matches.
“All we can do is keep our fingers crossed that he solves it, he scores goals, he convinces the coach to start him,” Klinsmann said.
Rubin, an 18-year-old from Beaverton, Oregon, signed with Utrecht in March.
“Today was definitely like a dream come true to me,” he said.
Rubin’s diving header off a cross from Bedoya was just wide in the 47th minute.
“Rubio knows that he has that physicality already — for an 18-year-old quite impressive,” Klinsmann said.
It also was a special match for Bedoya, whose parents are from Colombia
“It was an emotional night, beginning of the match, hearing both anthems going off,” Bedoya said. “Seeing my brother and my mom here in attendance along with all these Colombian fans was amazing.”
Jones made his second start in central defense after playing midfield for the previous four-year cycle. New England Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen entered in the 78th minute for his first international appearance since 2007 and fourth overall.
Colombia thought it should have been awarded a penalty kick by Polish referee Szymon Marciniak in first-half stoppage time, when Bacca’s shot deflected off Jones’ arm.
Preparing for next summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, the U.S. next plays Tuesday at Ireland in its final game of 2014.
“Maybe you don’t tell Ireland that we conceded too many goals in the last couple of minutes,” Klinsmann said.
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