United States preparing to face 'nasty' Colombia

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When most football fans think of the Colombian national team, they think of the high-flying attack, James Rodriguez's thousand-watt smile and the salsa-dancing goal celebrations of a fun-loving side.

What often gets overlooked, however, is the edge the Cafeteros play with, a physical side that counterbalances their flash and skill. Some would call it rough play, and some might even go a bit further.

"They're a little dirty," U.S. national team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya told Goal USA. "We just have to match their intensity and be just as physical and dirty with them too, and not get pushed around.

"They're a nasty team. We just have to match their physicality. You may think of Colombia as a very technical, and good passing, attacking flow team, but they're a pretty nasty team. They get stuck in. I've seen their games against Argentina, against us in London, and they'll kick you when they have the chance."

"They're a physical team. They get rough," U.S. defender Geoff Cameron said. "They get nasty. We know that, we've seen it and we've played against them. It's not going to be a nice little friendly game, it's not a warm-up — it's a tournament game. They want to win but so do we.

"I'm sure it will be physical with fouls and this and that, but it's professional as always. We've shown we can step up and rise to this occasion and we will."

USA. and Colombia last met in November 2014, in a friendly won 2-1 by Colombia on a late goal. That match was a physical battle, and though Colombia won, the U.S. did find a good number of scoring chances. 

"It was a little while ago by now, and friendlies are also different," U.S. captain Michael Bradley said. "We'll certainly look back at that game and take what we can for it, but ultimately, everybody has to be ready for a tournament-type game on Friday.

A "tournament-type game" sounds a lot like a match that will be anything but friendly — one that should see both sides looking to impose their will on the opponent.

As for United States players calling the Colombian's "dirty" and "nasty," before you consider those comments to be insults, it should be remembered that U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has himself criticized his own team — on more than one occasion — for not being nasty enough.

Coincidentally enough, Klinsmann's first such comments came after a big U.S. loss to a South American opponent. On that occasion, back in 2012, it was Brazil that laid a 4-1 thumping on the Americans, which prompted Klinsmann to make comments that drew a fair share of criticism at the time.

"We need to get an edge, more nastier," Klinsmann said. "Maybe we're a little bit still too naive. Maybe we don't want to hurt people, but that's what we've got to do. You've got to do that at the end of the day. So we've got to step on their toes more and get them more frustrated and make the case with the referee maybe as well, for us, not only the opponent."

Klinsmann made similar comments two years later, after another ugly loss, this time a 4-1 defeat to Ireland in November 2014 — which came just days after the last meeting with Colombia.

"We have to make it clear that they have to go through pain, get tougher, and when I used that word two or three years ago where I said we have to get nastier, some people were very critical of me," Klinsmann said. "'How can you say that?' I'll say it again: We have to get nastier. It's just normal. It's not a negative word. We have to become more physical. We have to hold our ground more, be dominant.

"This is just part of the game. It's normal."

Based on Klinsmann's past quotes about his team needing to be nastier, and the number of comments his players made this week about Colombia's penchant for rough stuff, it is safe to say the U.S. will be making it a priority to not allow Colombia to push the Americans around Friday, and maybe even dish out some of the same stuff Colombia will be delivering.

With Goal USA

 


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