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U.S. men’s national team ‘will make a number of changes’ for Peru

TAMPA, Fla. — Whether fans liked or didn’t like what they saw from the United States men’s national team during Thursday’s 4-2 loss to Colombia, they’ll be getting something completely different when the U.S. takes the field Tuesday in East Hartford, Conn., against Peru.

“Well, going into these two games, the idea was to get through the first game with a core group. There are plans to make a number of changes for Tuesday,” U.S. interim coach Dave Sarachan said during a postgame interview Thursday at Raymond James Stadium. “And that’s the reason you play these friendlies, to allow certain players opportunities, so we’re going to make a number of changes. We’ll address some of the issues from today and scout Peru. The same fundamentals we’ll apply to the new group this week, so we need to do better in all the areas I talked about.”

Those areas included being “a little bit sloppy and a little bit impatient” in the first half, which eventually led to Colombia’s James Rodriguez scoring in the 36th minute. The U.S. improved at the beginning of the second half – when it scored both of its goals – but also continued to make individual mistakes and let Colombia dictate the pace of the game.

Sarachan compared Colombia “punishing them” for their mistakes to the Brazil match Sept. 7 in New Jersey, which ended in a 2-0 loss for the U.S.

“Again, that’s part of the process in terms of playing great teams like this,” Sarachan said. “And I think we’re gonna learn a lot from this as we look at the videotape and get going the next few days to prepare for Peru.”

Acosta turns in solid performance

Midfielder Kellyn Acosta scored the goal that sparked a brief second-half rally from the Americans. He made a run into the penalty area and was able to put a cross from left back Antonee Robinson into the back of the net from just outside the six-yard box.

“I saw the ball going out wide to Antonee,” he said. “We only had, I guess, one guy in the box. I just thought maybe I’d make a late run, hopefully, the ball can land to me.”

Sarachan said he was pleased with Acosta’s performance, with a caveat.

“I think Kellyn, on balance, had a good night,” Sarachan said. “I think if I were a to be a little critical – and I think he would agree – he wasn’t the only one, but in the first half there were some simple passes that I think he didn’t do great with.

“Now, I’m not going to use the field as an excuse, but it was not the easiest night in terms of collecting balls and passing. But I think [Acosta], on balance, in the second half did a lot better with that. Kellyn, obviously, gets the goal, but he’s got a great engine. I think he worked his way into the match and did pretty well.”

Green starts in hometown

Tampa native Julian Green was in the starting XI for the United States. Green was born in Tampa and moved to Germany when he was 2 years old. His father still lives in Tampa.

Green is the one who sparked the counterattack that gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead early in the second half against Colombia. He had a solid chance from outside the penalty area in the first half, but his shot went wide.

“I thought both Julian and [forward] Bobby [Wood] had solid nights tonight, and Julian is a key player at that position to keep possession and threaten,” Sarachan said. “He certainly is aggressive trying to get the goal in the first half, he beat a guy and had a good shot. Overall, pretty good night.”

Room to improve

Sarachan said his side could have done better staying tight on Colombia’s players, as well as “simple plays of winning tackles.”

He added, “The vulnerability we showed at times when the ball was swung from one side to the other, the movement and the sliding was a little bit off, at times. At the same time, it’s an easy night when they’re cutting through you like that. And it’s a hot night, they put in a workload.”

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