The soccer news starts with the USMNT set to host Colombia on Thursday in Tampa (7:30pm ET - FS1). This version of the USMNT remains in transition, but adds veterans Michael Bradley and Brad Guzan. What that means on the field is the question, with the USMNT missing Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams due to injury.
Colombia recovered to have a strong World Cup. Following their opening round loss to Japan, they came back to win Group H and took England to penalties in the round of 16. Coach Jose Pekerman left following the World Cup, with Arturo Reyes now serving as interim. They bring a mixed squad to the United States, but it includes Bayern Munich's James Ramirez and enough attacking options to cause problems for the USMNT's back line. That's a major concern for the USMNT with new defenders in this group.
How players like Ben Sweat and Reggie Cannon adjust to international soccer is the question. USMNT interim coach Dave Sarachan has spent much of his tenure over the last 11 months giving players opportunities. Sometimes it works. Sometimes the other team identifies the weakest link and routes their attack in his direction. Michael Bradley adds experience at defensive midfield, potentially slowing down Colombia and giving the US defense time to make adjustments.
Colombia's roster isn't strong on defense. They have regular goalkeeper David Ospina and Atletico Madrid defender Santiago Arias and Valencia's Jeison Murillo. From there, the cap numbers drop off dramatically with four of their listed defenders on three caps or less. The USMNT attack could use Bobby Wood and Andriya Novakovich, both on fine form with their club teams. Tim Weah is also in the group, looking for playing time behind one of the best lineup of forwards in world soccer at PSG.
Once again, the big picture for the USMNT is a program in flux. General Manager Earnie Stewart is pointing to the end of the month to name a new head coach. That should bring to an end the kind of identification exercises interim coach Dave Sarachan has been using since November. Replacing that should be auditions under a new coach looking to fill roles in a new tactical setup. That's another transition, but one that should give the USMNT an identity sooner than later. Good news for all involved as the program works towards the Gold Cup and the start of the Concacaf Nations League.
SI.com's Grant Wahl on what's changed since the USMNT's loss at Trinidad & Tobago. American Soccer Now's Brian Sciaretta talks to USMNT player Matt Miazga. The Aspen Institute has Tom Farrey explaining what France gets right about youth soccer development and how that can apply to the United States. Soccer America's Mike Woitalla talks to FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja about American player development and MLS's role. MLSsoccer.com's Bobby Warshaw looks at the issues Atlanta faces with Miguel Almiron out with an injury. ESPN on Costa Rica's new National Team coach Gustavo Matosas.
World Soccer's Nick Bidwell tires to work out what's changed with Bayern Munich this season. AP's Raf Casert reports on a Belgian investigation into soccer corruption that led to raids. The Guardian's Chris Young on the new ownership at Dagenham & Redbridge that includes USMNT player Tim Howard.
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