March 25, 2016
HOLDING ON JUST BARELY
USA get out of Colombia with 1-1 tie in Olympic qualifier
BARRANQUILLA, Colombia -- The United States held off a relentless Colombia attack and recorded a 1-1 draw in the first leg of an Olympic qualifying playoff at Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez Friday night.
Juan Fernando Quintero converted a 68th-minute penalty kick after Luis Gil gave the USA the lead.
The series concludes in Frisco, Texas on Tuesday night with a berth at the Rio Summer Olympics at stake.
The Under-23 Colombian side was the more dangerous side, dominating possession and opportunities on a hot and humid night, forcing the Americans to defend most of the match.
Yet, the USA drew first blood in the fifth minute. Mario Rodriguez beat Davinson Sanchez on the right flank. Just as the USA forward got to the end line, he cut the ball back to Luis Gil, who fired a 12-yard shot into the left corner past goalkeeper Cristian Bonila.
Colombia tested goalkeeper Ethan Horvath early and often. In the third minute, Horvath saved a shot by Harold Preciado on the left side of the penalty area and Wilmar Barrios nodded a cross wide left in the 15th minute.
Gil missed a golden opportunity to double the advantage in the 27th minute, shanking Jordan Morris' cross wide right.
USA head coach Andreas Herzog was forced to burn a substitution as Horvath suffered an injury after colliding with Andres Renteria while heading the ball away at the top of the box. Cody Cropper replaced Horvath in the 45th minute.
Cropper quickly was called into action, denying Andres Felipe Roa from 12 yards in the 46th minute and on the left side of the box two minutes later.
Colombia held siege of the USA goal for virtually the entire second half, launching shots, sending crosses into the area and forcing corner kicks. The hosts' persistence paid off in the 68th minute, three minutes after Morris blasted a shot from distance off the left post.
Defender Kellyn Acosta was called for a penalty kick after pulling down Rafael Santos Borre in the box. Quintero rifled the PK into the lower left corner past a diving Cropper.