James Rodriguez scored in the 75th minute as Colombia beat the Canadian men's national soccer team 1-0 on Tuesday in an international friendly at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Despite a valiant effort for 90 minutes, the Canadian men's national team found that Colombia, complete with World Cup stars Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao, were just too much to handle.
The Colombians brought pressure in the first half, but Benito Floro's Canadian squad held well from the back-line, got world-class goalkeeping from Milan Borjan, and even pushed forward, earning a few set pieces.
Florio was happy with the defensive effort but still felt unfulfilled by his side's performance.
"We played mostly defensively today, not the way we would have liked," he said through a translator following the match. "We wanted to play a little bit more offensive, but we actually played with them, that was good for us."
Canada's best chance, however, may have been negated by a non-call on Alexander Mejia, who appeared to take down forward Tosaint Ricketts.
Ricketts received an excellent through ball from Issey Nakajima-Farran, but the call wouldn't go the way of Ricketts. Colombia toyed with the Canadian defence, but put nothing through for more than an hour.
Colombia finally scored when a quick restart off a free kick in the 75th minute, it was one touch to Rodriguez from Juan Quintero, and he needed only one touch before driving a bending ball from 25 yards out to beat Borjan. Canada had no time to set up a wall, but Floro felt that was out of a lack of preparedness.
"We discussed this with the players and we told them Colombia were very smart, very quick, and a lot of the set-pieces they work on played the ball quick," said Floro. "Our players got distracted and (the goal by Rodriguez) was what happened."
After all of the fancy footwork from Colombia failed to beat the Canadians, it took all the might and craft of the world's best striker to finally knock them down on Colombia's fourth shot on target of the game.
One last chance
Canada brought one last chance to the game in the 90th minute, with substitute Luca Gasparatto finding an open shot just outside the box from a set-up by fellow substitute and University of Connecticut standout Cyle Larin, only to force Camilo Vargas' lone save of the game. An ensuing free kick proved fruitless, and that was it for the Canadians.
"We had a couple chances, we should've scored that chance we have, but at least we got the experience out of it," Larin said. "When this game was announced, I was amped, ready to play. James scored a great goal, and you can't take anything away from them."
A loss is a loss, but the Canadians came away from the match emboldened.
"I think, as a team defensively, we played really good," said Borjan, who made three saves in net for Canada. "We're still missing the attack, but we played the third-best country in the world, so I think we did very, very good as a team.
"We had to play well defensively. We have a very young team, inexperience, but we showed tonight that we can play together, and we improved."
Larin agreed that the loss could be a learning opportunity for Canada.
"They're a great technical team. It's a process, and we played really well," said Larin. "Hopefully in a couple years we'll be really good and be able to make it to a World Cup."
With the loss, Canada dropped to 1-4-4 under Floro since his hiring in July of 2013. Their next match will be against Panama in Panama City on Nov. 18.