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USMT Play Too Close For Comfort Against Colombia For A Draw In Cali

Photo Credit: Melinda Meijer

Carson, CA — The scene at Dignity Health Sports Park was full of mass hysteria as 27,000 die hard soccer fans filled the sold out arena to witness the U.S. Men’s National Team go toe to toe with Colombia’s Los Cafeteros in a match-up that ended in a 0-0 draw.

The intensity was high from the start, Colombia’s tempo drew major heat on the U.S. defense team as they outshot them 12-5 though the USMNT did not back down easy sustaining tenacity hoping to gain a fighting chance to score with two shot attempts on goal against Colombia’s one.

USMNT’s Paxten Aaronson made his international debut scoring the opening goal before a long ball from Walker Zimmerman made its way to forward Matthew Hoppe that ran in the penalty box. The CONCACAF U-20 champ kicked it back off to Aaronson in a power move attempt but Colombia goalkeeper Alvaro Montero took advantage seizing the moment taking over the handle.

Photo Credit: Melinda Meijer

Colombia’s efforts took a turn when a misplayed pass from defender Aaron Long went sour but it was forward Diego Valoyes who made the comeback speeding down right wing around his defender firing the shot on goal only to have U.S. goalkeeper Sean Johnson stop it dead in its tracks.

Aaronson took another go in the 14th minute after a throw-in near the corner that continued a good passing flow with winger Paul Arriola booting a backheel to Aaronson near the penalty spot but got deflected by Colombia’s defense going left before rolling out of bounds.

Colombia tried to boldly answer when a long ball missed by Zimmerman landed onto Yilmar Velasquez who swung past starting defender John Tolkin to fire a wide right shot. The U.S. turned up the pressure on the break in the 32nd with forward Jesus Ferreira finding Hoppe cutting past his left sided defense to make a shot but his golden opportunity ended landing right into the chest of Colombia’s sliding forward Fredy Montero.

The battle continued into the second half with both teams taking last minute efforts to gain control making goal attempts ultimately resulting in a rugged draw. For U.S players John Tolkin, Paxten Aaronson, sub defender Sam Rogers and Emmanuel Sabbi it was the first international debut in addition to a record 12 players earning their first caps during two January camp matches.

Next up he USMNT returns to action in March against Grenada’s national team for the 2022-23 CONCACAF Nations League at Kirani James National Stadium in Grenada.