MIAMI: A Colombian team lead by James Rodríguez roared past a tenacious but inexperienced United States 4-2 on Thursday in an international football friendly in Tampa, Florida.
James put Los Cafeteros in the lead with a spectacular effort from the edge of the penalty area in the 36th minute, thrilling a largely pro-Colombia crowd at Raymond James Stadium.
The United States responded with two goals in the space of three minutes by Kellyn Acosta and Bobby Wood early in the second half that gave the hosts a 2-1 lead.
But Colombia rose to the challenge with goals from Carlos Bacca, Radamel Falcao, and Miguel Borja to secure the victory.
“I thought in moments it was good, moments we can do better,” said US midfielder Michael Bradley, making his first international appearance since he captained the side that fell to the devastating loss at Trinidad and Tobago one year and one day ago that saw the US miss this year’s World Cup in Russia.
“The response at the beginning of the second half was pretty good,” Bradley said. “We let ourselves down a little bit towards the middle of the second half. Obviously they’re a good team. They challenge you in different ways and obviously that’s what these nights are about.
“It’s experience, it’s little by little guys understanding what nights like this are like,” Bradley said of the learning curve facing caretaker coach Dave Sarachan’s young side.
Colombia, meanwhile, drew on the world-class talent of Falcao and Bayern Munich midfielder James, who made his presence felt throughout as he returned to international duty.
Falcao had a chance in the fourth minute after Santiago Arias got past Antonee Robinson and John Brooks to fire in a pass to Falcao who fired high from the top of the area.
The threats kept coming and the pressure paid off in the 36th when James collected the ball on the right edge of the area and curled a left-footed shot into the far corner of Zack Steffen’s net.
James nearly doubled the score five minutes later but his close-range shot was thwarted by a sliding Matthew Miazga.
Unbowed, the United States grabbed the equaliser five minutes into the second half when Robinson’s cross found an unmarked Acosta who fired past Colombian keeper David Ospina.
Wood struck just three minutes later after solid work by Tim Weah on the left side, but the US’ lead would be short-lived.
Bacca equalised three minutes later, and Falcao put Colombia ahead in the 74th on a side-footed shot past Steffen.
Moments later Falcao exited for Borja, who added a final touch with an entertaining overhead kick that Steffen couldn’t reel in.
Colombia’s North American tour continues on Tuesday against Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, while the United States will face Peru in Connecticut.