BARRANQUILLA, Colombia – After a grueling 90 minutes, United States Under-23 manager Andi Herzog was full of praise for his side’s resilient performance in claiming a valuable 1-1 draw against Colombia in the first leg of the Olympic playoff for a place at Rio 2016.


Herzog confessed his side had to dig deep under heavy pressure, difficult weather conditions and with little possession of the ball, but admitted he was delighted with the draw and, especially, the away goal the gives the US a slight edge in the series.


“I think it was a really good result for us and we even had the chance to score a second goal when [Jordan] Morris hit the bar,” Herzog told reporters in his postmatch press conference. “We could see that Colombia are a really good team, but the away goal was huge for us.”


Herzog reserved special praise for his defense, which had to be on red alert from a heavy bombardment from Colombia’s forward players, particularly in the second half.


Colombia dominated possession, holding over 75% of the ball, and outshot the US 26-6.


“We did a good job defensively. It sounds stupid but I was expecting them to score because they put us under a lot of pressure,” he explained. “The Colombian team are a really good team in possession and it was a lot of pressure from them. At the end it wasn’t easy, so I must give huge complements to my players.


“We wanted to go for another goal on the counterattack and actually we had other chances, I think through Jordan Morris on 75 minutes. But we had to make a substitute in the first half [goalkeeper Ethan Horvath] and that hurt us, because that left us just with two subs left,”


But despite the heroic backs-to-the-wall display on Colombian soil, the Austrian coach warned that Colombia should expect to see a different US side when the two countries meet to play for that final Olympic ticket in Frisco, Texas next Tuesday night (9:30 pm ET, ESPN2).


“Today’s game was a different style of play for us because Colombia are different from the CONCACAF sides that we’ve faced in the past. In the second half we were missing a lot of energy because sometimes we were giving away the ball too easily and that happens, you overcompensate. But next week we will have more possession, I assure you.”