USA draws Colombia 1-1 in first leg of Olympic qualifying playoff
The U.S. Under-23 men's national team has all to play for on Tuesday in the second leg of its Olympic qualifying playoff vs. Colombia after securing a favorable road result in the first leg Friday.
The USA drew Colombia 1-1 under hot and humid conditions in Barranquilla, taking an edge on away goals into the return leg at FC Dallas's Toyota Stadium. The winner of the series secures the 16th and final men's berth at the Rio Olympics this summer.
Luis Gil put the USA ahead in the fifth minute, finishing off a cutback cross from Mario Rodriguez. The Queretaro and former Real Salt Lake midfielder was unmarked on the USA's first action in the attacking third, and he made no mistake directing his first-timed effort low and to the far corner.
After a series of chances and close calls, Colombia ultimately answered back, doing so from the penalty spot in the 68th minute. Kellyn Acosta conceded a penalty, tripping Rafael Santos Borre, and Juan Fernando Quintero stepped to the spot and converted to level the score.
The USA ceded much of the possession throughout–Colombia maintained about three quarters of the possession–defending en masse while looking to spring on the counter.
On a rare foray forward, Jordan Morris nearly gave the USA a 2-0 lead just after the hour mark with an audacious effort off the outside of his foot from about 20 yards. That matter of inches came back to haunt the Americans moments later as Colombia earned its penalty, leveling the score instead of potentially being down 2-0.
The U.S. carries its away-goal edge into the home leg, but it remains to be seen who will start in goal for the Americans. U.S. starting goalkeeper Ethan Horvath endured a scare at the end of the first half, take a hit to the head in a collision. He remained in the game after being tended to by U.S. medical staff, but had to exit soon after. He was replaced by Cody Cropper.
Here's how the first leg unfolded: