Football: Colombia show a united front

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The Independent Online
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COLOMBIA, who lost 3-1 to Romania in their opening match on Saturday, face the United States in Los Angeles today in a match that is critical for both teams.

Poor results in their opening group A matches mean that defeat for either side when they meet at the Rose Bowl could have far- reaching consequences.

Hernan Gomez, Colombia's assistant coach, playing down any talk of dissent in the camp, said: 'We really got a wake-up call in the last game and there is no dissension in this team. We are totally united.

'Historically this team does not lose matches back-to-back and maybe the defeat was magnified as we have only let in three goals twice before.'

The US drew 1-1 with Switzerland in Michigan on Saturday and badly need something from this match to give them hope of progressing to the second round. Defeat for the Americans would almost certainly mean a first-round elimination for the host nation for the first time in World Cup history.

'We have one or two injuries and illnesses but I hope that everyone is able to play against the Colombians,' the American coach, Bora Milutinovic, said. 'Despite their defeat on Saturday, they are still one of the favourites to win the Cup.'

Milutinovic's main concerns are an injured right hamstring which prevented midfielder Claudio Reyna from training on Monday, and a severe allergic reaction which has prevented forward Eric Wynalda, who scored his side's goal against the Swiss, from training.

Colombia reported no injury problems apart from bruising on striker Faustino Asprilla's right ankle following a knock in Saturday's match.

Their defeat to Romania was only their second loss in 34 internationals. Francisco Maturana, Colombia's head coach, conceded after the game that Colombia lost because they played as individuals rather than as a team. But they also lost because they never varied their approach from going straight down the middle, playing into the Romanians hands. 'We won't make that mistake again,' Maturana said.

UNITED STATES (from): Meola (US Soccer Federation); Balboa (USSF), Caligiuri (USSF), Kooiman (Cruz Azul), Lalas (USSF), Harkes (Derby County), Dooley (Bayer Leverkusen), Ramos (Real Betis), Sorber (USSF), Wynalda (VfL Bochum), or Wegerle (Coventry City), Stewart (Willem II Tilburg).

COLOMBIA (probable): Cordoba (America Cali); Herrera (Nacional Medellin), Perea (Junior Barranquilla), Escobar (Nacional Medellin), Perez (America Cali), Alvarez (America Cali), Gomez (Nacional Medellin), Valderrama (Junior Barranquilla), Rincon (Palmeiras), Asprilla (Parma), Valencia (Bayern Munich).

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