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Early Luis Gil goal helps U.S. U-23s grab draw in Colombia

Luis Gil U-23 USMNT Colombia 4

Throughout the build-up to Friday’s match, the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team stated its desire to win the opening leg of its Olympic qualifying playoff in Colombia. The Americans failed to do so, but Friday’s result kept them in a good position to clinch a berth in this summer’s tournament.

An early finish from Luis Gil was canceled out by a Colombia penalty kick in the second half, as the U.S. escaped Barranquilla with a 1-1 draw on Friday. In securing the draw, the U.S. netted a vital away goal, which could serve as a tiebreaker in the case of a tie on aggregate.

Gil’s breakthrough goal came just five minutes into the game, as the Queretaro midfielder combined with Mario Rodriguez to create the crucial away goal. After being dominated during the opening minutes, the U.S. broke out as Rodriguez darted down the right wing. The forward cut a ball back towards the penalty spot, where Gil sat waiting for a wide-open look that gave the U.S. the early lead.

From there, the U.S. was on the their back foot, as Colombia piled on pressure in front of its home crowd. Adding to the U.S. struggles was an injury to goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, who was forced out of the game shortly before halftime due to a collision just outside of the box.

Facing wave after wave of pressure, the U.S. finally broke in the 68th minute. After a mishit clearance by Matt Miazga, Kellyn Acosta was called for a penalty just inside the right side of the box. Colombia playmaker Juan Fernando Quintero stepped up and buried the ensuing spot kick, sealing a 1-1 draw.

The Americans’ best opportunity of the second half came just moments before Quintero’s leveler, as Jordan Morris rattled the crossbar from distance. The Seattle Sounders forward also had another run at goal shortly after Quintero’s finish, but was bodied off the ball by Colombia’s last defender.

Colombia proved dominant on the ball for a majority of the game, but were repeatedly undone by the duo of Miazga and Tim Parker. The two U.S. centerbacks made numerous clearances and interceptions inside their own box, limiting Colombia to very few open looks.

Quintero’s tally proved to be Colombia’s lone finish of the game, as the hosts settled for a draw ahead of the second leg.

The two teams will face off once again on Tuesday at FC Dallas’ Toyota Stadium.


The U.S. knew they would be facing a major battle with a visit to Colombia, and Luis Gil’s early goal gave the team something to hold onto almost immediately. The midfielder’s finish ensures that all was not lost with the draw, as the U.S. have an away goal in their back pocket heading into the second leg.


Even prior to the penalty kick call, Kellyn Acosta wasn’t having his best game at the right back position. Colombia picked on Acosta throughout the 90 minutes, and the FC Dallas product was caught ball-watching several times. The penalty may have been a bit harsh, but it was a deserved breakthrough for a Colombia team that made the most of the matchup all night.


  1. Ok, I get that Wood has been scoring lately in the B-2, but no player in MLS has been scoring more than Wondo. Yet JK continues to leave him on the bench and play Dempsey, who has lately not been that much of a threat for Seattle and Jozy, who does not score as much as Wondo in MLS and is coming off an injury.

    Arguments that Wondo is not an international level player just do not cut it. He scores more than any other US player in MLS period. And it is Guatemala who are weak even by their normal standards.

  2. It was frustrating because Acosta really didn’t have to foul the attacker. And Miazga should have headed the ball back to the GK anyway. On the other hand, given the way the game was played, Colombia deserved at least a draw. Despite the favorable outcome, the US will have to play better in Texas to get the result and advance.

  3. next game line up:
    Horvath if recover
    formation: 4 2 3 1

    • I doubt Horvath plays.. Cropper is just as good.

      Polster had a good game and I like Emerson in a more advanced role. Sub Polster for Serna.

      Also Acosta gave up the (soft) pk and was not super imposing but I thought he did well limiting their attack on that side; slowing their wingers down and keeping them outside of the 18. Idk if Vincent is ready for this level and gotta start Acosta in his home stadium!

  4. Some likes and dislikes I had about this game:

    First, I watched this muted in a walking-distance, small town dive bar because of FS1 not being a channel I have. “Like” for the bar and “dislike” for having this game on a somewhat obscure channel.

    I think the uniforms aren’t bad, but would have been much better with matching sleeves. What about a black uniform with blue trim and red sleeves, or with red trim and blue sleeves? I think those would’ve been better options. Very minor dislike.

    I thought the referee was fine, and I was expecting blatantly bad. Minor like.

    Acosta looked too slow to play outside back against this team, and at times unenthusiastic and positionally unaware. Morris looked gassed relatively early in both halves despite not being asked to do much defensively, and he didn’t appear to have any creative vision. I was surprised to see Rodriguez subbed off instead of Morris. Dislike.

    Bad possesion, but arguably more dangerous chances. Wash.

    Hyndman, Gil, and Trapp looked solid in the midfield, as did our two subs after Cropper.

    Horvath’s awareness and bravery to head that ball on the edge of the box.

    We came out at halftime playing noticably different, and I thought we were playing too compact and too far back. I think our pressing was doing okay in the first half, and I was disappointed to see the shift.

    Finally, I’m thrilled with the result and overall performance in a bigtime away match.

      • I actually didn’t see that. Maybe I was getting another beer or taking a potty break.

        Even though of course that’s unfair from the referee, I don’t expect him to see everything, and don’t think it’s much of an impact on the larger scope of things.

        What I liked about the ref was that I felt he added proper time to both halves, he seemed to get most of his calls right, he was understanding when Horvath sat on the pitch for as long as he did, and made a couple well timed water breaks.

        One thing that did upset me (besides the usual calls I think we should’ve got but didn’t) was the Colombia players pushing/rushing our players off the field during a sub. I was glad the ref intervened both times they did it, but I think after the first time warning them, maybe a card should’ve been handed out for that second time. In hindsight I’ve relaxed a little bit, but in the moment I was pissed and calling for a yellow.

      • I know you have seen enough soccer to know that if that is your main complaint with a referee, then he has done a good job. The announcers mentioned that he had reffed a CL final as well as WC games, so he is considered one of the best around. That yellow card played no difference in the outcome.

  5. Sometimes it feels like you can expect some stupid mistake (e.g. turnover or foul [like the penalty]) to cost the US in big games. So close.

    Ugh, how frustrating.

  6. The pk call was harsh? Really?
    I hope we make it to the Olympic Games so we can bunker and time-waste at a higher level.
    We can always blame the referee if we don’t score 10 goals per game and win a gold medal.

  7. Watched the game and we were totally outplayed but still had a lead until late. One of our dumb ass defenders grabbed the arm of a columbia player an spun him around in the goal area. Penalty Kick and it was deserved. We still could have won when Morris hit a cross bar on a shot.

    The one thing I don’t get is we played this game in the heat and that gave them an advantage …. why are we playing the return match in Texas on Tuesday where it is also hot. This game should have been played in a much colder place to cool down the Columbia players. Not a smart move putting it in Texas. Ohio or better yet…. Maine would have been a better choice.

    • Dallas has cold winters and chilly springs. For example, if the game had been in Frisco, TX today, there was only a high of 69 degrees. I suspect that the game-time temperature (night game) will be in the low 70s or high 60s. That’s almost perfect soccer weather.

      Remember that these venues are scheduled months in advance. They probably thought it would be even colder than the current forecast shows.

    • I was thinking that to, but then I checked the weather reports for Frisco Texas on Tuesday. While it was 101 degrees in Baranquilla, Frisco is supposed to be 76 degree high, but more like 70/69 degrees at game time. That is perfect soccer weather in the states and much colder than those guys from Colombia are used to playing in.

    • Outplayed? How? It was purely tactical per Herzog in an away venue. I for one would rather not see them play so deep against Colombia in the second half. There was no need for it. They could have held a bit more possession and would have been fine. But saying that they were outplayed because they lost the possession battle is nonsense. With that away goal, the US has a great chance to advance now.

  8. I only watched the last 20 minutes, but man we had no possession. I hope there were better parts to the game. I keep thinking that the next age group up will be able to control games better. I think until the US can do that they will not be a true contender. The result is good but the game does not give me hope for the final leg.

    • @ FCCCleveland – “I keep thinking that the next age group up will be able to control games better.” If you look at the U-23 player pool many of the players were actually from that “next age group”. Players like Miazga, Hyndman, CCV, Zelalem, Rubin, and others are on the young side for this age group or are actually age eligible for the current U-20 cycle meaning that they are likely able to represent the US at the next U-23 cycle. The potential of the current U-20s is very promising for the future of the USMNT.

  9. First time poster, long time reader. I have to say I think any summary of this game without noting the weather is incomplete. Just like the MNT, penchant for turnovers leads the team to surrender many more chances than they otherwise would and contributes to a destructive cycle of clearing it back to the opponent over and over again.

  10. Hey ref, when the wind rolls the ball visibly off the goal kick spot and the gk goes to reset it….. That’s not a yellow for time wasting…

    I’m cool with the draw and away goal. We picked it in most of the second half but looked comfortable going back to a balanced attack once the equalizer happened. Rodriguez, you’re cool and all, buuuuuuuuttttt……. Let’s give K Sweat the start in tejas

    I pray it’s a different ref. not that the rest of concacaf refs are any good


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