US U23s fall to Colombia miss Olympics

Published Wednesday, March 30, 2016 6:48 AM by Shane Barrow

After the gritty 1-1 result in Colombia last Friday hopes were high that the US Under 23 Men could take care of business in Frisco Tuesday night and gain a berth at the 2016 Brazil Olympics. Hopes diminished quickly after the opening whistle as the quality of the side from Colombia became more evident.

It was going to be a long night. Between some questionable refereeing, the embarrassing Colombian tactics and the quality of the Colombian players when they weren't rolling around on the ground, the American hopes were squashed in a 2-1 defeat.

The American central midfield of Emerson Hyndman, Wil Trap and Paul Arriola were simply not good enough at all. Bossed pretty much the entire game, there was no real ball winner in the middle of the park for the US and when they did get ahold the the ball it was usually turned over pretty quickly. It led to a very quiet night for striker Jordan Morris who did not even have a single touch of the ball the entire opening twenty minutes of the match.

Colombia were on the front foot from the opening whistle pressuring the US into turnovers and pinning the Americans deep into their own half. The deserved goal came on the half hour mark as Roger Martinez knocked home a shot from close range that was heading wide. The match went 1-0 to the break with the US needing to regroup in a hurry.

The second half opened with Colombia sitting deeper and allowing the home side to get on the ball and come at them more. Kellyn Acosta was getting down the left flank and the Americans were finally stringing some passes together. The strange equalizer came in the 59th minute as Emerson Hyndman put in an enticing ball from the left. Two Colombia defenders scrambled to deal with the ball and Delver Machado accidentally headed a looping ball over his own goalkeeper and into the net for an own goal. It would be the only ball on the Colombia frame all night long.

Colombia immediately turned the light on and went right back on the attack as the US relaxed after the goal. It only took five minutes for the visitors to grab back the lead as Roger Martinez found himself all alone in the US penalty area for a classy finish. 2-1 Colombia and let the junior high tactics begin. The game didn't seem to flow for more than three minutes without a Colombia player rolling around on the ground. Ridiculous and embarrassing stuff to watch. The player would be stretchered off the field. Hop right up and go right back on the pitch. The awful Uzbek referee bought all of it and the game devolved into a sad display the final twenty minutes.

In the end, the US simply were not the better team. Colombia had more quality in both legs and deserved to go through. It is unfortunate a quality side like Colombia could not win a match with a little more class instead of the childish tactics that tarnish the beautiful game for so many Americans.