The United States Men's National Team will face Colombia in its penultimate match of 2014 Friday at Craven Cottage in London (1:45 p.m. CT, ESPN, UniMas). Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler is one of 10 MLS players on head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's 25-man roster.
Besler has made 22 international appearances for the U.S. since his debut in 2013. The 27-year-old central defender started all four games for the Yanks at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and leads the team with 10 games started this year.
The U.S. is 6-3-4 in 2014 and reached the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, finishing runners-up in Group G behind eventual champions Germany. The squad named for friendly matches against Colombia on Friday and Ireland on Tuesday is comprised of 16 World Cup veterans (Besler, Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Geoff Cameron and Jermaine Jones among them) as well as younger players looking to break through in the forthcoming World Cup cycle (Greg Garza, Miguel Ibarra, Jordan Morris, Rubio Rubin and Bobby Wood). New England Revolution midfielder and 2014 MLS MVP candidate Lee Nguyen is set to earn his first cap since 2007, while MLS goalkeepers Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson have also received call-ups.
Klinsmann has led the U.S. MNT to a 33-13-11 record since his hiring in 2011 and is on the 10-man shortlist for FIFA World Coach of the Year in 2014.
Ranked No. 3 in the world, Colombia has lost to just one opponent since September 2013. Los Cafeteros reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup before falling to hosts Brazil. Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez enjoyed a breakout tournament with six goals and two assists and is now a FIFA Ballon d’Or finalist. The 23-year-old attacking midfielder has six goals and five assists since joining Real Madrid of Spain’s La Liga for a $108 million transfer fee.
Colombia boasts additional attacking firepower in the form of captain Radamel Falcao and fellow striker Jackson Martinez. Falcao, 28, has returned from a knee injury to feature with Manchester United in the English Premier League. He has scored more than 150 club goals for Porto, Atletico Madrid, Monaco and Manchester United since 2009. The 28-year-old Martinez has scored 72 goals across all competitions for Porto since 2012, including 12 in the 2014-15 campaign.
Manager Jose Pekerman has guided Los Cafeteros to a 21-5-7 record since taking over in January 2012. Colombia finished second behind Argentina in the South American Zone of 2014 World Cup qualification and earned their best ever finish at the World Cup in June and July.
The U.S. concludes 2014 on Tuesday against the Republic of Ireland at Aviva Stadium in Dublin (1:45 p.m. CT, ESPN2). The Irish currently sit atop Group D in UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying after a 1-1 draw with World Cup champions Germany last month. The side is led by captain Robbie Keane, who has 60 goals and 38 assists for the LA Galaxy in the past four MLS seasons (including playoffs).