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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Upsets Colombia, Swiss Blast Romanians

The Americans were frightened they would be the first host nation to fail to reach the World Cup's second round. Instead, they toppled fancied Colombia 2-1 and only a series of crazy results can stop them. The Colombians were stunned earlier by a death threat to one of their players, but were outplayed anyway by a U.S. team playing its best soccer in the competition that mattered most. On a day when Cameroon players threatened strike action over pay, the contented Swiss looked certain to gain the second round after romping to a 4-1 victory over Romania. In the Group A standings, the Swiss and the Americans have four points from two games, Romania has three and Colombia, expected to head the group, has none. U.S.A. 2, Colombia 1. The Americans, scoring their first World Cup victory since upsetting England in 1950, were helped on their way by an own goal from defender Andres Escobar. He tried to intercept a center from John Harkes and slid the ball into his own net. Ernie Stewart, who plays in the Netherlands for Willem II, scored the second in the 52nd minute from Tab Ramos' pass, and the game was virtually over when Colombian substitute Adolfo Valencia replied in the final minute. Marcelo Balboa almost scored a spectacular third for the Americans, shooting fractionally wide from a 16-meter overhead kick. The Colombians are likely to go home after their third game against the Swiss on Sunday. "Unfortunately I have still not been able to find the explanation as to why we played this badly," coach Francisco Maturana said. "I think it's obviously very weird that our participation has been a disaster." The Americans were buoyant. "We proved to everybody today that we can play the game," goalkeeper and captain Tony Meola said. Switzerland 4, Romania 1. After a disappointing 1-1 tie with the United States in their opening game, the Swiss overwhelmed a Romanian team that had outgunned the Colombians 3-1. Alain Sutter (16th minute), Stephane Chapuisat (53rd), Adrian Knup (66th) and George Bregy (72nd) fired the goals that tied Switzerland's best World Cup performance, a 4-1 thumping of Italy in 1954 when it hosted the tournament. Gheorghe Hagi fired his second goal of the tournament and Florin Raducioiu, who scored twice against Colombia, this time twice was foiled by acrobatic Swiss goalie Marco Pascolo. Romanian substitute Ion Vladoiu was sent off in the 73rd minute only seconds after joining the game for clattering into Switzerland's Christophe Ohrel. Before their game against the U.S.A., the Colombians were shocked by a death threat aimed at midfielder Gabriel Gomez, older brother of assistant coach Hernan Dario Gomez. Team spokesman Javier Hernandez said coach Francisco Maturana decided to replace Gomez with Herman Gaviria after the team's hotel told the delegation that it had received the threat. Hernandez said the message, sent by telefax to the team's hotel in Fullerton, California "contained very serious threats." He said they did not know the origin of the threats which were aimed "against the team in general and Gomez in particular. "They threatened to blow up the house of Gabriel Gomez," he added. Cameroon goalie and team captain Joseph-Antoine Bell said in San Francisco that a pay dispute had been going on for some time between the Cameroon players and team officials. The players reportedly have not been paid for two months and it is not clear how much they are owed. "It's always the same problem," Bell said. "The players are not happy. They have not gotten their bonuses, their salaries. I know there is a possibility to arrange everything, to solve the problem. But the players are anxious, because nothing has been done." The developments involving Colombia and Cameroon cast a shadow on a day when Joseph Blatter, the general secretary of soccer's world governing body, said Brazil and Nigeria had impressed him most with their stylish play. "Brazil was very well organized on the field," he said. "And Nigeria was using the space. They reminded me of the Dutch teams of 1974-78, using all the space on the field."