United States Fails to Qualify for 2016 Olympics

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

by DENY GALLAGHER

For the second straight cycle, the United States will not be going to the Olympics after a 2-1 loss to Colombia in the second leg of the Olympic Qualifying Playoff.

The night was a disaster as both Luis Gil and Matt Miazga were shown red cards on an evening where the U.S. was simply outclassed in every facet of the game.

The United States looked solid in the early going, as the side had a better share of the game then they did in Friday’s first leg. But once again, it was a lack of organization and focus that did in the Americans.

In the 30th minute, a break down in the final third doomed the U-23s. Simply put, terrible defending helped make an equally as poor shot by Colombia find the back of the net. The goal helped erase the United States’ away goal advantage. With a half hour in the books, the South American side held a 2-1 lead on aggregate.

Just before the hour mark, the United States were given a lifeline when Emerson Hyndmann floated a ball from mid-field into the box. Colombia’s Deiber Machado mistimed his jump and headed the ball toward his goal. The wind caught the ball and it floated past a diving Cristian Bonilla.

Moments later, Colombia reclaimed the lead when Roger Martinez added his second goal of the night, after a brilliant first touch fooled Tim Parker. That touch created just enough space for Martinez to get off a shot and beat Ethan Horvath with a curling strike. The effort made it 3-2 on aggregate, with the U.S. needing two goals to advance because of Colombia’s advantage on away goals.

From there the United States unraveled, as second half sub Luis Gil picked up a pair of yellow cards in just 10 minutes of action. His ejection from the match brought the Americans down to just 10 men.

Matt Miazga also picked up a red card when he pulled down the Colombian attacker on the edge of the area to end his lackluster playoff performance.

The game went from bad to worse, as the Colombians showed gamesmanship by falling to ground with ease and the United States committed needless fouls out of frustration. Ultimately, they could not break down their South American opponents.

Many questions will be asked of U.S. Soccer over the coming weeks regarding the overall direction of the men’s program after an average week for both the senior and Olympic teams.