The United States' chances of reaching the championship game in the Toulon Tournament all but ended on Thursday afternoon—and its odds of reaching the third-place game severely decreased—as the team lost to Colombia, 2-1.
Second-half substitute Harrison Mojica was the hero for Colombia, setting up goals to Jherson Vergara and Felipe Aguilar.
But it was the United States that struck first in this contest, going ahead in the sixth minute. After Jordan Morris earned a corner with a strong run, Will Trapp got the slightest of flicks with his head on the ensuing corner and fooled keeper Christian Bonilla, who went down too early and was beaten.
It was an excellent start for the United States, especially after dropping the first game to France, 4-1.
Colombia regained its composure after that, controlling much of the possession. Still, the team wasn't able to really threaten the United States' goal.
A controversial call gave Colombia a free kick right on the edge of the box in the 26th minute. Keeper Kendall McIntosh appeared to have waited until the ball entered the box to handle it, but the referee said the ball was still outside of the box, giving Colombia the free kick.
The wall did its job, however, and the threat was averted.
Alonso Hernandez nearly scored a goal all on his own in the 31st minute. After somehow managing to hold onto the ball between two Colombian defenders, he turned and attempted a cheeky chip, but Bonilla was perfectly placed to corral the attempt.
Brayan Angulo nearly tied the game in the 34th minute after Luis Mena found him wide open in front of the net, but somehow he pushed his shot across the face of goal.
The game would go into the half with the United States leading 1-0. While Colombia had better possession in the first half, the team's build-up play was lacking, as FOX Soccer Trax noted:
HT Colombia U20 0 USA U20 1. Solid half from the Americans; Colombians need to speed things up— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) May 30, 2013
Morris continued his strong play and nearly scored a minute into the second half. Alonso Hernandez played a nice little ball into the box for Morris, who squeezed between two defenders but had the ball taken off his foot by Bonilla at the last possible moment.
Colombia equalized in the 44th minute. Second-half sub Mojica made his presence felt immediately, as his free kick into the box was brilliant, finding Vergara's head. His flick spun past McIntosh, tying the contest.
Minutes later, Colombia took the lead.
Again, it was Mojica with a wonderful ball into the box, this time finding Aguilar on the back post. The Colombian had little to do except stick out his left leg and direct the ball into the back of the net.
If you were wondering why Mojica didn't start, FOX Soccer Trax has it covered:
Immediate impact from Mojica; he was cut in pre-game so did not start, has come back for 2d half with apparent stitches over eyebrow— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) May 30, 2013
Mojica nearly got one of his own in the 63rd minute. With Colombia breaking, Mojica found space outside of the box and let it rip. His curling effort beat McIntosh but hit the side bar and bounced back into the arms of the keeper. Still, it was an inspired effort from the man who really changed this game for Colombia.
The United States came close to equalizing in the 64th minute off a corner, but Morris pushed his free header just wide of the near post.
The United States had an excellent chance to equalize in the 74th minute. Hernandez beat Bonilla but his shot hit the post. The rebound deflected to Daniel Cuevas but the keeper recovered, stopping the shot.
Man of the Match: Harrison Mojica, Colombia
He made an instant impact in this game after being subbed on, setting up both goals with absolutely brilliant crosses into the box. And he nearly scored a goal of his own as well, hitting the bar with a lovely but unlucky strike.
His service into the box changed this match after Colombia really struggled to do anything near the box in the first half despite solid spells of possession.
The United States now faces Congo DR on June 1 and Korea Republic on June 5. The team will have to win both games and hope two teams from the group of France, Colombia and Congo DR lose two contests the rest of the way to earn a spot in the third-place contest.
Colombia still has France and DR Congo on tap, with the game against France sure to be one of the best games of this tournament.