A 1-1 scoreline on the road? In a home-and-home series that you host the final match, its about the best case scenario a team could hope for.
However, much of the problems that plagued the United States U-23 squad in Colombia were on full display in Frisco, Texas on Tuesday night as well. The only difference? Colombia found ways to fully capitalize on their opportunities en route to a
Heck, the visitors even decided to throw the “Baby Nats” a bone and score an own goal to make things really interesting with 35 minutes remaining in the match and the game and aggregate all tied up at 1-1.
That’s when Colombia abused the USA’s midfield and defense one final time, resulting in Tim Parker getting wrong-footed and Roger Martínez slotted home the game-winner for a 2-1 lead and a 3-2 aggregate win for the South American side.
His brace secured Colombia a berth in the Rio games and South America’s third slot in the 16-team tournament.
It also meant a second straight Olympic tournament miss and three of the last four without the United States involved in the games. Team USA’s last appearance came in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and it finished a disappointing ninth.
Things went from bad to worse after the Baby Nats went down 2-1, with Luis Gil apparently slugging Colombia’s Acosta and earning a second yellow card for apparently something…as replay clearly shows Acosta going down after never being touched by Gil.
It was an ugly result for the Baby Nats, and a fitting one considering the ugliness that both teams displayed. There were multiple players stomping on opponents on both sides, plenty of unnecessarily physical challenges, baiting of the ref and anything in between.
After Gil’s second yellow, turned red, in the 72nd minute, it was all over. Only things got worse, as Matt Miazga got caught trying to run down a Colombian player as the last man and was shown a straight red for pulling the player down in the 90th minute.
Given all of that, it may not be surprising to know the game ended with the “Baby Nats” putting just one shot on goal the entire game.
It was not exactly hard to realize that the better team on the field over both legs took home the Olympic berth. This team only has itself to blame, and the entire national team development process needs a hard look in the mirror.
One could easily argue this team should’ve never been in this situation, and a win over Honduras in the CONCACAF qualifying semi-finals would’ve prevented all of this from happening. But, as has been the case for this side for some time, it simply couldn’t take care of business when everything was right in front of them.
Where this youth program goes will tell a lot for the future of the full men’s national team, and there’s little doubt this whole process has been disappointing for everyone involved.