US U-23

AP Photo/Fernando Vergara

U.S. lineup for Olympic playoff qualifier sees Payne, Arriola in for Miller, Gil

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Andi Herzog is switching up his side just a little bit for the second leg of the United States U-23 national team’s Olympic qualifying playoff against Colombia.

The Yanks drew Colombia 1-1 on Friday in Barranquilla, with Mario Rodriguez linking up with Luis Gil for the U.S. goal.

A win or 0-0 draw will put the U.S. through to the Olympics, while a 1-1 draw would force extra time.

[ PHOTO: Plane flies “#FireKlinsmann” banner over USMNT match ]

But Gil is on the bench to start the home tie this evening, as is Eric Miller, as Paul Arriola and Desevio Payne move into the starting lineup.

Payne will likely play outside back, moving Acosta to his club position of mid (though Matt Polster could slot in there as well).

Ethan Horvath came through the injury that forced him out of Friday’s draw, and will start in goal for the Yanks.

US U-23: Horvath; Payne, Miazga, Parker, Polster; Trapp, Acosta, Hyndman, Arriola; Morris, Rodriguez

Three things from the U.S. U-23’s 1-1 draw with Colombia in Olympic playoff 1st leg

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After an hour or so of allowing my heartbeat to return to a normal rhythm given the relentless Colombian attack and its threats to crush my Olympic dreams or at least the chance to watch the U.S. men play soccer in the Olympics, I’m ready to speak.

[ MORE: Match recap ]

Here’s three things we learned from the 1-1 draw in Barranquilla on Friday.

CENTER BACK(S?) ON POINT

Three years ago, Tim Parker (above) was playing in the NPSL. Two years ago, he was a St. John’s team that went 4-10-4. Last year, he was breaking into the lineup for the Vancouver Whitecaps, also on loan to their USL side.

Tonight, he was the best player on the United States men’s U-23 national team, keeping the flame burning for a nation’s men’s Olympic hopes.

Parker combined with Matt Miazga (Chelsea) to form a solid backbone for Andi Herzog’s unit, and he was a step above his center back mate. Given the relentless pressure provided by the Colombians, it’s a minor miracle they didn’t find a second goal. But they didn’t… and Parker was the main reason why.

ADJUST MUCH?

Herzog’s plan for the first half-hour, keeping a very narrow midfield in a bit of a 4-3-1-2, frustrated and flustered Colombia. It arguably kept them off-balance enough to allow Mario Rodriguez to set up Luis Gil for the opening goal.

The second half, though, had the U.S. looking disjointed whenever they found possession. Granted Herzog was forced into an early sub when goalkeeper Ethan Horvath was hurt, but his two remaining subs were used to take out Gil and Rodriguez.

United States' coach Andi Herzog instructs players during a U-23 first leg soccer match qualifier for the 2016 Rio Olympics against Colombia at the Roberto Melendez Stadium in Barranquilla, Colombia, Friday, March 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
(AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Kellyn Acosta and Jordan Morris were gasping for air, and Acosta was toasted on the right flank time and again. Some are writing that off as Acosta playing out of position — he’s a DCM for FC Dallas — but regardless he needed to be moved. He could’ve slid into center for Gil if the midfielder needed to come off that bad, but it was clear it wasn’t his night against a dangerous wide attack.

We saw this in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, too. Herzog show some terrific game-planning and seems to be a heck of a coach, but his adjustments have been disappointing.

AIR JORDAN

As in gasping for air. Jordan Morris might be the great hope of the United States, but we’ve seen he’s far from a finished product. His outside of the right foot bender off the crossbar was gorgeous to watch, but that’s a left-footed shot he passed up to take it. And we’re not talking about a “He thinks two steps ahead of the goalkeeper” right-footer, but a “He went out of his way to use his right” right-footer. Disappointing.

Then again, Morris was gassed and playing in terrible heat (the pregame index was a “real feel” of 102). He’s also on the heels of his busiest and most unrelenting game sequence of his career (full college season, trial with Werder Bremen, Sounders preseason, starting role for Seattle). He can be forgiven, but we’d love to see him breakthrough for club and country ASAP, thanks.

United States' team pose for a group photo prior to the U-23 first leg soccer match qualifier for the 2016 Rio Olympics against Colombia at the Roberto Melendez Stadium in Barranquilla, Colombia, Friday, March 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
(AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

After January camp, USMNT looks to rosters for World Cup, Olympic qualifying

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The United States men’s national team finished its experimental January camp with a 2-0 record, and now trains its eyes on World Cup and Olympic qualifying.

The last part is critical not just because of the ramifications of a potential second-successive Olympic absence for the men’s U-23 side.

[ USMNT: Tops Iceland 3-2 | Knocks off Canada, too ]

The Yanks have to deftly divide their player pool because March 25 and 29 are not only the dates for the next round of World Cup qualifying matches — a home-and-home series with Guatemala — but also the dates for the U-23s’ pair of matches with Colombia.

That’s why Jordan Morris isn’t likely headed to Guatemala City, and the same is true for impressive January camper Jerome Kiesewetter and new Chelsea defender Matt Miazga.

[ JPW: Recapping the top stories from an intense Premier League weekend ]

Bobby Wood, John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin are also eligible for the U-23s, but there’s the rub. All three are in good form for country, and only Yedlin isn’t playing well for his club (That’s because Sam Allardyce isn’t using him much at all. His substitute appearance against Liverpool was his first action since Jan. 9).

New England midfielder Lee Nguyen impressed Jurgen Klinsmann during January camp, and it’s hard to ignore the impact of Steve Birnbaum’s goal and assist.

Assuming health, here’s our best guess at who’s making the squad for Guatemala on March 25 and 29. It’s worth noting that six MLS clubs play on March 26 (NYC, New England, Vancouver, Houston, DC and Dallas):

Goalkeepers: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson

Defenders: DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Matt Besler, Steve Birnbaum, Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans, Jonathan Spector, Tim Ream

Midfielders: Fabian Johnson, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Danny Williams, Lee Nguyen, Darlington Nagbe

Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Gyasi Zardes, Bobby Wood, Aron Johannsson

U23s recap: Brazil goes down to 10 men vs U.S., holds on for 2-1 win

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Luan Michel de Louzã and Gabriel Barbosa gave Brazil’s U-23 men’s national team a 2-0 lead over the U.S. U-23s, and then dealt with a red card in holding on for a 2-1 win on Wednesday night in Recife.

Jerome Kiesewetter won and converted a PK for the Yanks in the loss. The U.S. will regret waiting until the red card to advance the ball with any intent.

The U.S. is playing a pair of matches against Brazil’s U-23s this week in continued preparation for the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL Olympic qualifying playoff against Colombia, which must be played by March.

[ MORE: How will the USMNT line-up in Friday’s World Cup qualifying opener? ]

The first half in Recife was all Brazil.

U.S. keeper Charlie Horton was whistled for a six-second violation, giving Brazil an indirect kick just inside the 18. The U.S. wall was a yard outside the six, and Gabriel’s shot went off Fred Rodrigues Santos and into the wall.

Horton had to fly to stop a 30-yard blast from Fred as the game reached 20 minutes, and Brazil controlled much of the possession at home.

Things were testy, as Matt Polster and Fred both picked up yellows as the half moved on. The States were forced into a first half change due to a leg injury to Boyd Okwuono. Oscar Sorto came on for the Real Salt Lake defender.

Brazil was extremely dangerous with overlapping runs on the wings, especially on the right side of the States defense. Fred thankfully blasted a shot over the bar on a wide-open ball late in the frame.

The 43rd minute saw Brazil up 1-0 on a terrific through ball from Lucas Silva to Gabriel, who blazed a run past Cameron Carter-Vickers before rounding Horton to finish the game’s first goal.

Jon Kempin replaced Horton at half.

The States came out with fire to start the second half, but Brazil countered and scored before the half was 90 seconds old. Luan had time and opportunity from the right side of the 18, and curled a ball around Kempin.

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The United States picked up a penalty kick when a high-pressing Jerome Kiesewetter was taken down in the 18. Doria, who was booked in the first half, was sent off for his second yellow.

Kiesewetter converted, and it was 2-1.

The U.S. then pushed forward for the equalizer, and really asserted itself physically. Brazil hunkered down for a 15-minute span, and the play was essentially the Yanks trying to work the left side of the pitch, but rarely cutting forward decisively or showing ideas to get through the banks of Brazilians.

Fred hit a late rocket off the crossbar, and the States just couldn’t get through to goal. A stoppage-time header off a corner popped over goal in the most dangerous moment.

U.S. stars of the game:

1. Kiesewetter – relentless, and made smart runs off the ball. Clinical finish of his PK opportunity

2. Polster – the Chicago Fire’s rookie star did plenty of solid work as a holding mid before subbing off for Dillon Serna.

3. Horton.

And at the other end of the productivity spectrum: Julian Green was invisible, Khiry Shelton struggled with his touch as a hold-up striker, and Okwuono looked a bit overwhelmed at times.

WATCH: Gabriel splits U.S. center backs as Brazil leads U-23s 1-0

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The United States U-23 men’s national team trails Brazil 1-0 at halftime of Wednesday’s friendly, a match well-controlled by the hosts.

The U.S. is playing a pair of matches against Brazil’s U-23s this week in continued preparation for the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL Olympic qualifying playoff against Colombia, which must be played by March.

U.S. keeper Charlie Horton was whistled for a six-second violation, giving Brazil an indirect kick just inside the 18. The U.S. wall was a yard outside the six, and Gabriel Barbosa’s shot went off Fred Rodrigues Santos and into the wall.

Horton had to fly to stop a 30-yard blast from Fred as the game reached 20 minutes, and Brazil controlled much of the possession at home.

[ MORE: How will the USMNT line-up in Friday’s World Cup qualifying opener? ]

Things were testy in Brazil, as Matt Polster and Fred both picked up yellows as the half moved on. The States were forced into a first half change due to a leg injury to Boyd Okwuono. Oscar Sorto came on for the Real Salt Lake defender.

Brazil was extremely dangerous with overlapping runs on the wings, especially on the right side of the States defense. Fred thankfully blasted a shot over the bar on a wide-open ball late in the frame.

The 43rd minute saw Brazil up 1-0 on a terrific through ball from Lucas Silva to Gabriel, who blazed a run past Cameron Carter-Vickers before rounding Horton to finish the game’s first goal.