With the realization that the USMNT will miss out on next summers World Cup in Russia sinking in American soccer fans desperate for some hope to hang onto tuned in this morning to watch their youngsters compete in the U17 World Cup from India only to see the Young Yanks fall to a 3-1 defeat to Colombia.
Of course, it is unfair to blame the prospects for the sins of their elders and this morning’s match from India was not of the do or die variety. No, the Americans had already secured a place in the knockout rounds thanks to victories over India, 3-0, and Ghana, 1-0, in the first two matches of group play.
Those results combined with Ghana’s 4-0 victory over the host nation landed the Americans in a third-place qualifier position when winning the group had seemed a far likelier option when the day’s action kicked off.
Still, the American soccer world remains reeling after the colossal failure of the senior squad to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986 and a good performance by the 17’s today would have been a welcome tonic for the beleaguered masses that care about the fate of the beautiful game in the United States.
That hoped-for release was not to be found with ominous signs appearing early for the U.S. when a simple long throw froze U.S goalkeeper Justin Garces and most of the U.S. defense, allowing Juan Vidal to capitalize and give Colombia a quick lead just minutes in.
The Americans responded well to that shock, equalizing through George Acosta in the 24th minute. The stylish midfielder latched onto a seeing-eye pass through the Colombian defense from Andrew Carleton to level the game at 1-1, a score that would hold to the halftime whistle.
Then the second half began and the Americans promptly retreated into a shell. Playing to secure a place in the knockout rounds Colombia came out aggressively with the Young Yanks unable to match that intensity.
Colombia’s goal in the 67th minute from a tightly angled free-kick off the boot of Juan Penaloza had a whiff of inevitability to it, although it did seem to wake the Americans up.
Colombia would add goal number three in the 87th minute and despite about eight minutes of stoppage time, the U.S. could not get the goal it needed to stay out of third place.
The Americans will have to wait for other results to see where they head next in the U17 World Cup.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
COL 1 2 3
COL – Juan Vidal 3rd minute
USA – George Acosta (Andrew Carleton) 24
COL – Juan Penaloza (free kick) 67
COL – Deiber Caicedo (Juan Penaloza) 87
USA: 1-Justin Garces, 2-Jaylin Lindsey, 3-Chris Gloster, 4-James Sands, 6-Chris Durkin, 7-Ayo Akinola, 9-Josh Sargent (Capt.), 11-Andrew Carleton (19-Jacobo Reyes, 69), 13-Sergino Dest, 15-George Acosta (8-Blaine Ferri, 78), 20-Chris Goslin (10-Tim Weah, 87)
Subs Not Used: 5-Tyler Shaver, 12-CJ Dos Santos, 14-Akil Watts, 16-Taylor Booth, 17-Bryan Reynolds, 18-Indiana Vassilev, 21-Alex Budnik
Head Coach: John Hackworth
COL: 2-Andres Cifuentes, 3-Guillermo Tegue, 5-Thomas Gutierrez (Capt.), 6-Andres Perea, 7-Leandro Campaz (13-Robert Mejia, 46), 10-Brayan Gomez (14-Yadir Meneses, 56), 11-Juan Penaloza, 12-Kevin Mier, 17-Deiber Caicedo, 19-Juan Vidal, 20-Etilso Martinez
Subs Not Used: 1-Nicolas Gomez, 4-Christian Andrade, 8-Luis Lopez, 9-Santiago Barrero, 15-Gustavo Carvajal, 16-Fabian Angel, 18-Deyman Cortes, 21-Daniel Melo
Head Coach: Orlando Restrepo
Stats Summary: USA/COL
Shots on Goal: 3/6
Corner Kicks: 5/5