FRISCO, Texas — US Under-23 goalkeeper Ethan Horvath had to come out of Friday’s first leg of the 2016 Olympics qualification playoff with injury after colliding with forward Andres Renteria. But US U-23 national team head coach Andi Herzog isn’t worried about the shot-stopper’s fitness.
The key sign for the coach that the Molde goalkeeper is ready for Tuesday’s second leg at Toyota Stadium wasn’t something he told Herzog or how he ran a drill in a training session, but rather his appetite.
“He’s fine. Ethan was fine right after the game,” Herzog said. “He was hungry, he was eating all the time. This was for me the best sign that he was fine. He already trained the next day. There was no big problem.”
Horvath’s substitution after 45 minutes of play left the US with just two changes to spare in Barranquilla, Colombia, where the temperature edged into the 90s and Colombia’s quick attackers tested the Americans’ speed and fitness. The Cafeteros ended the contest with a 26-6 advantage in shots, but the teams arrive in Texas with the aggregate at 1-1 thanks to Luis Gil’s early goal for the US.
“We didn’t want to defend that deep, especially in the second half, but that’s how it was because my players were tired,” Herzog said. “We had one problem because we had to make a substitution after 30 minutes with the goalkeeper.
“Normally you don’t waste a substitution with a goalkeeper because you need fresh legs up front on the wings. It was a tough game, but my players did really really well to compete from the first to the last minute.”
The Americans wilted a bit in the sun, and Horvath’s replacement, Cody Cropper, was tested. Cropper, like Horvath, ended the day with two saves, but he couldn’t stop Juan Quintero’s second-half penalty.
Both players trained during the open portion of Monday’s session, and the coach didn’t offer any hints as to who would get the starting nod in Tuesday’s second leg (9:30 pm ET, ESPN2).