The U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) wrapped up its year-opening slate with a 0-0 draw against Colombia in front of a loud, sellout crowd of 27,000 at Dignity Health Sports Park. Starting defender John Tolkin and forward Paxten Aaronson, as well as substitute defender Sam Rogers and forward Emmanuel Sabbi, all made their international debuts as a record 12 players earned their first caps during the two matches of this January camp.
Report from USSoccer.com
The game was end-to-end from the start as Colombia’s speed in transition created danger for the U.S. defense. While the South Americans outshot the U.S. 12-5, the USMNT had better quality scoring opportunities on the night and had two shots on goal to just one for Los Cafeteros.
Aaronson nearly scored the opening goal just six minutes into his first senior USMNT action when a long ball from Walker Zimmerman found forward Matthew Hoppe on the run into the penalty box. The Middlesborough-based forward laid it off for the onrushing Aaronson, but his one-time attempt didn’t have enough power and was handled well by Colombia goalkeeper Alvaro Montero. Minutes later, Colombia jumped on a misplayed pass from defender Aaron Long and forward Diego Valoyes made a speedy run down the right wing, driving around his defender and firing a shot on goal that was swallowed up by U.S. goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
Aaronson had another chance to open his international account in the 14th minute. After a throw-in near the corner, a nice passing sequence continued with a Paul Arriola backheel to Aaronson near the penalty spot. The teenager’s shot was deflected by the Colombia defense and glanced off the left post before rolling out of bounds. Again, Colombia answered with a dangerous counter. Zimmerman wasn’t able to clear a long ball over the top and it fell to Yilmar Velásquez who snuck past Tolkin and fired a shot wide right. In the 32nd, the U.S. threatened on the break with forward Jesús Ferreira finding Hoppe cutting through the defense on the left side, but his golden chance from close range went right into the chest of the sliding Montero.
The torrid pace of the first 45 minutes continued into the second half as the U.S. hunted for the game’s opening goal. One of its most dangerous opportunities came near the hour mark as Jesús Ferreira received the ball in a dangerous spot near the top of the box, but two Colombia defenders closed in quickly to prevent him from ripping a shot.
Both teams had a few last-gasp efforts in stoppage time with Kellyn Acosta sending in a free kick just out of reach for substitute forward Brandon Vázquez. Colombia captain Frank Fabra provided Los Cafeteros’ last threat, driving down the left side of the box and hitting his shot wide after some solid defense from teenage center back Jalen Neal.
The USMNT returns to action during the March international window to complete the group stage of the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League at Grenada and against El Salvador. The U.S. won the inaugural Concacaf Nations League in 2021 with an epic 3-2 overtime victory against Mexico.
USA: 1-Sean Johnson; 4-DeJuan Jones, 3-Walker Zimmerman (22-Jalen Neal, 70), 15-Aaron Long (16-Sam Rogers, 72), 12-John Tolkin (2-Julian Gressel, 81); 23-Kellyn Acosta (Capt.), 19-Eryk Williamson (14-Alan Soñora, 46), 6-Paxten Aaronson; 7-Paul Arriola (11-Emmanuel Sabbi, 66), 9-Jesús Ferreira (8-Brandon Vazquez, 63), 13-Matthew Hoppe
Substitutes not used: 18-Roman Celentano, 24-Gaga Slonina, 5-Jonathan Gómez, 10-Paxton Pomykal, 20-Cade Cowell, 21-Aidan Morris
Head coach: Anthony Hudson
COL:1-Alvaro Montero (12-Jose Luis Chunga, 46); 6-Juan David Mosquera, 3-Andres Llinas, 5-Alexis Perez, 18-Frank Fabra (Capt.); 21-Jorman Campuzano, 15-Yilmar Velazquez (16-Kevin Castaño, 83), 23-Dylan Borrero (11-Daniel Ruiz, 68); 7-Diego Valoyes, 9-Cristian Arango (19-Diber Cambindo, 46), 14-Juan Camilo Hernandez (20-Santiago Moreno, 68)
Substitutes not used: 2-Nicolas Hernandez, 4-Andres Reyes, 8-Daniel Cataño, 13-Junior Hernandez
Head coach: Néstor Gabriel Lorenzo