Olympic Qualifying

Olympic qualifying playoff first leg: Colombia U-23s 1-1 USA U-23s

The US men’s U-23 team traveled to Colombia for the first of two legs that will put one country into the Olympics and send one home in disgrace.

The US team came out in a defensive 4-3-1-2 with Luis Gil connecting three holding midfielders to Jordan Morris and Mario Rodriguez.

Although Colombia quickly dominated possession, the visitors hit them with a quick sucker punch. Gil collected the ball in midfield in the third minute and played Rodriguez into the right channel. Rodriguez got to the endline and cut back to a wide open Gil who slotted the ball into the far corner. Colombia completely turned off, allowing Gil to slip into the box alone and put the Americans on top.

From that point on, the match devolved into a one-sided affair, with Morris increasingly isolated and Colombia forever pushing toward the US goal.

In the 19th minute, Renteria drilled a shot across goal after beating Kelyn Acosta on the left.

After Quintero blasted a free kick into the wall in the 21st, Morris finally found space for the US but saw his cutback blocked. Gil recovered the loose ball but could only flash his shot wide of the goal.

Quintero had a chance from open play in the 28th but Ethan Horvath pushed it wide of the net. Unfortunately, the American goalie would not make it to halftime.

In the 38th minute, Renteria blasted Horvath with a shoulder to the head as the two met for a challenge at the top of the box. Horvath tried to play on but he was clearly out of it. Cody Cropper entered the fray in the 45th minute and spent six minutes of extra time under constant pressure.

The second half was a more extreme version of the first and Colombia’s pressure was relentless. The US system protected the center at the expense of the wings, and the home side targeted Acosta and Eric Miller over and over.

In the 64th minute, the US finally got forward and Jordan Morris’s ambitious outside-of-the-foot strike rebounded off the crossbar.

But that was the last real chance for the Americans. In the 67th minute, a ball over the top was poorly handled by Matt Miazga. The Chelsea man hit himself with an attempted clearance while running backward and Kelyn Acosta pulled on Quintero’s shoulder when he caught the striker in the box. The Colombian playmaker blasted the resulting penalty past Cropper to tie the score.

The remainder of the match was nothing but Colombian pressure. Fatai Alashe and Jerome Kiesewetter replaced Gil and Mario Rodriguez, but it was little more than changing numbers: The flow of the match never changed.

The 1-1 draw was a huge result for the Americans, who take an away goal into Tuesday’s second leg in Frisco, Texas.

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
Unused 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

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
Unused subs: 4-Deiver Machado, 8-Yony Gonzalez, 12-Luis Hurtado, 17-Roger Martinez, 20-Alvaro Montero
Head coach: Carlos Restrepo

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

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

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

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


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    US Soccer is a disheveled mess… sometimes the disheveled mess is a man of genuine genius, in disguise, but that is not our fortune… with these leaders Andy Herzog and Jurgen Klinsman specifically… please please DO NOT gladstrap your back in adulation please do not let the door hit you on the ass as you depart with your President of the Federation. You all suck.
    From jump this team looked for the first outlet pass and ran out of ideas, no you first have to have an idea to run out of ideas…. only to lump the ball forward in to the sun. At one point, when I saw Trapp turn on the ball with four viable options to pass to and he chose to dump responsibility to the covered Acosta who…. you guessed it… lumped the ball forward I knew… just more shit US Soccer.
    So dispiriting. So dispiriting that a country founded on indivdualism and creativity of thought our brand of soccer is boring Snoozer negative tactics with Zer0 initiative… the players accept some responsibiloity but it is the system that fails them every time.
    About as dispiriting and smart as breaking out the all black kit in SOuth America on a day when the gqame is played at 4pm in 100 degree heat… absolute symbolism.

  2. Yes the uniform choice was symptomatic of the present system. I think the Trapp thing was a misguided effort to maintain posession. He was trying to do the right thing in the wrong place. Otherwise, I think the team showed tremendous grit and determination ,Maintaining their shape throughout the game ,they got the result that was needed. Would that the seniors have gotten that result against Guatemala, but you are sooo right in your evaluation.

  3. anyone else watching that game think “gee it would probably good if they had a natural RB in there” Rosenberry for the Olympics!

  4. Promising going into the home leg.
    Easy to forget but these are still young men in one of the most high pressure situations of their careers very far away from home.

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