U.S. U-23s Draw Colombia 1-1 in First Leg of Olympic Playoff

Courtesy USSoccer.com

by Deny Gallagher

It was a purely American result for the U-23 squad in the first leg of the 2016 Olympic Qualifying Playoff, as the Stars and Stripes drew 1-1 at Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Meléndez.

The side displayed heart, grit, determination, and most importantly ,tremendous defensive organization to get a result on the road in Colombia. Luis Gil scored the lone goal in the fifth minute of play to give the United States a crucial away goal.

As a result, Colombia will now need to score a goal or two to put themselves in a position to advance to Rio.

The opening minutes saw a flurry of attacks on the American backline by the Colombians, but the hosts could not find the finishing touch.

The direction of the match quickly changed in the 5th minute. Mario Rodriguez got on the end of a searching ball from Wil Trapp near the end line. The striker was able to turn on the ball inches away from the byline and find Luis Gil near the penalty spot. The former Real Salt Lake man picked his spot and, with help of a deflection, found the bottom left corner of the net to put the United States up 1-0.

Over the course of the next 15 minutes, Colombia looked the more threatening side. Colombia’s offense sputtered in the final third thanks to Matt Miazga and Tim Parker, who anchored the four-man back line all afternoon.

The remaining time in the first half proved problematic for the U-23s, as the side battled the oppressive heat, as well as a dangerous Colombia side. Manager Andy Herzog soon had cause for concern when keeper Ethan Horvath collided with Colombia’s Andres Renteria and went down with an apparent head injury.

The player left the match just before halftime in favor of MK Dons keeper Cody Cropper.

A mandatory water break imposed in the 22nd minute resulted in six minutes of extra time,leading  the United States into the half with a 1-0 advantage

Despite being completely outmatched up until the midpoint of the second half, Jordan Morris nearly added a second goal from about 20 yards out in the 64th minute. The striker hit the cross bar and his shot deflected up into the scorching Barranquilla afternoon sky.

Less than a minute later, Colombia finally got their equalizer. The goal came after Kellyn Acosta once again got beat and clipped Rafael Santos Borré, prompting the referee to point to the penalty spot.

Juan Fernando Quintero stepped up for the hosts and beat Cropper to make it 1-1.

The remaining half hour mirrored the rest of second half, as Colombia had the better of the game. Despite the edge in possession, near the end of the 90 minutes the Americans looked more likely to find the back of the net.

After four minutes of stoppage time, the referee blew his whistle to bring an end to the contest. While Andy Herzog and company will be disappointed that his side was unable to retain the lead, an away goal goes a long way for the U.S. who host the next leg.

The U-23s now move on to Tuesday night’s second leg in Frisco, Texas. Jordan Morris and company put the pressure on the hosts by grabbing an away goal on Friday afternoon.

Scoring Summary: 1   2   F
USA                        1   0   1
COL                         0   1   1

USA – Luis Gil (Mario Rodriguez)                     5th minute
COL – Juan Fernando Quintero (penalty kick)    68

Lineups:
USA:
 1-Ethan Horvath (12-Cody Cropper, 45); 7-Kellyn Acosta, 3-Matt Miazga, 4-Tim Parker, 20-Eric Miller; 6-Will Trapp (capt.), 13-Matt Polster, 8-Emerson Hyndman, 10-Luis Gil (14-Fatai Alashe, 66); 18-Mario Rodriguez (17-Jerome Kiesewetter, 72), 9-Jordan Morris 
Subs: 2-Tyler Miller, 5-Walker Zimmerman, 11-Paul Arriola, 15-Desevio Payne, 16-Julian Green, 19-Khiry Shelton
Not available: Shane O’Neill, Dillon Serna, Brandon Vincent 

Head Coach: Andres Herzog

COL: 1-Cristian Bonila; 13-Helibelton Palacios, 3-Yerry Mina, 5-Davinson Sanchez, 16-Cristian Borja; 14-Wilmar Barrios, 6-Jose Leudo (11-Jarlan Barrera, 33), 18-Andres Felipe Roa (15-Juan Pablo Nieto, 73), 10-Juan Fernando Quintero; 7-Andres Renteria (19-Rafael Santos Borre, 62), 9-Harold Preciado
Subs: 4-Deiver Machado, 8-Yony Gonzalez, 12-Luis Hurtado, 17-Roger Martinez, 20-Alvaro Montero
Head coach: Carlos Restrepo

Stats Summary: USA / COL
Shots: 5 /18
Shots on goal: 1/ 6
Saves: 4 / 0
Corner Kicks: 2 / 8
Fouls: 11 / 13
Offside: 2 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Matt Miazga (caution) 52nd minute
USA – Kellyn Acosta (caution) 67
COL – Rafael Santos Borre (caution) 67
USA – Cody Cropper (caution) 83
COL – Cristian Borja 90+1

Officials:
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (TUR)
Assistant Referee 1: Orkun Aktas (TUR)
Assistant Referee 2: Mehmet Staman (TUR)
Fourth Official: Huseyin Gocek (TUR)