The United States under-23 national team are headed to Rio! Unfortunately they haven't qualified for the Olympics yet, but their 2-0 win over Canada in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament third-place game earns them a chance to face off against Colombia in March. It'll be a one-game playoff for all the Olympic marbles. Canada were again no match for the U.S. as much like the group stage, the Americans dominated play and prevailed as winners.
U.S. U23 XI (442): Horvath—Polster, Carter-Vickers, Miazga, Pelosi—Serna, Trapp, Alashe, Hernández—Morris, Kiesewetter
— Liviu Bird (@liviubird) October 13, 2015
The United States got off to a really strong start, controlling possession early on and created a few half-chances. The first major talking point in the match came just five minutes in when Jerome Kiesewetter used his tremendous pace to get past a defender in the box and was taken down. The referee wasn't having any of it and kept his whistle quiet.
Continued American pressure pinned Canada in their own half for the opening 20 minutes, but there were no dangerous chances to speak of.
Canada finally mustered a small spell of possession afterwards and created their first chance of the match. An in-swinging free kick to the far post was headed back into the center of the box where a weak header was calmly handled by Ethan Horvath.
They managed another decent chance just before the halftime whistle, but a long range shot from 30 yards out was unable to beat Horvath either.
In the ensuing attack for the Americans, Marc Pelosi was brought down on the edge of the box earning Giuliano Frano of Canada his second yellow card of the match for apparent dissent. They would have to play with 10 men for the remaining 45 minutes.
After the dismissal, the ref blew for halftime with neither side able to find the score sheet.
Jordan Morris was the recipient of the first good chance in the second half, a cross found its way to him all alone at the far post, but his shot was unable to beat the Canada goalkeeper.
The man-advantage certainly showed its effects as the U.S. dominated the ball and the chances for the opening 15 minutes of the half, but were still unable to break the deadlock.
Finally in the 69th minute all the pressure paid off when a corner kick was headed away to Marc Pelosi at the top of the 18-yard box. His right-footed drive appeared to be headed in anyways but took a deflection off of a desperate Canada defender's leg and nestled into the back of the net to give the U.S. a deserved lead.
The Americans had a golden chance in the 76th minute to finish off the game as Kiesewetter was played in on goal one on one with the Canadian goalkeeper, but his shot was saved.
Six minutes later the U.S. would get another chance to ice the game. Kiesewetter was taken down in the box by the goalkeeper and the ref pointed to the spot. The VfB Stuttgart forward would take the spot kick himself and bury it for his forth goal of the tournament.
With that the tournament ends with the U.S. finishing in third-place and advancing to the playoff with Colombia in March.
- Job done. It wasn't pretty, but the U.S. are through to the one-game playoff and that's all that matters.
- Kiesewetter was a menace all tournament down the right side of the field. He drew two penalties and scored a total of four goals.
- The center back duo of Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers had a rough outing in the semifinals but they righted the ship in the third-place game with a masterful performance.
- The U.S. still struggled to create opportunities and lacked creativity in the final third. Their goals came from a busted play off of a corner and a penalty.
- With the playoff against Colombia taking place during a FIFA window, you can expect several new faces on the roster for that match.