TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — This loss did not sting for Michael Bradley, far different from the previous one.
Carlos Bacca, Radamel Falcao and Miguel Borja scored second-half goals to lead Colombia over the United States 4-2 on Thursday night in an exhibition that marked the return of Bradley to the national team following a one-year absence.
“Personally to step on the field again, to have another chance to represent my country, that part never gets old,” Bradley said. “Games like this are an important part of the process. You play against a team like Colombia, if the way you deal with certain advantages they have isn’t quite good enough then they can punish you.”
Bradley was dropped from the national team along with most veterans after the loss at Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 10 last year that ended the Americans’ streak of seven straight World Cup appearances. The 31-year-old midfielder, who hopes to play a role in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, made his 141st international appearance, tying Clint Dempsey for third on the American list behind Cobi Jones (164) and Landon Donovan (157).
“On the whole, a very solid night,” interim coach Dave Sarachan said. “Michael is still a guy that has played in big games, nothing fazes him. He’s trying to carry himself and do his job along with making sure he’s helping the guys along side him. When they started throwing numbers forward, it’s just not on Michael. He needed some help on either side, left and right.”
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan also was back for the first time in a year but the 34-year-old was on the bench as 23-year-old Zack Steffen started his fourth straight U.S. match.
A trio of top young American midfielders missed the game because of injuries: 20-year-olds Christian Pulisic (torn calf muscle) and Weston McKennie (right adductor muscle), and 19-year-old Tyler Adams (back spasms).
Ben Sweat, a 27-year-old left back from nearby Palm Harbor, entered in the 75th minute and became the 19th player to make his debut under Sarachan, who took over when Arena quit after the loss in Trinidad.
The U.S. has three wins, three losses and three ties under Sarachan, who also will lead the team for Tuesday’s exhibition against Peru in East Hartford, Connecticut. A new coach is expected to be hired later this year, and Gregg Berhalter of Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew is the favorite.
The Americans had not allowed four goals since 4-0 loss at Costa Rica in a November 2016 World Cup qualifier that caused the U.S. Soccer Federation to fire coach Jurgen Klinsmann and bring back Bruce Arena.