The U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team and Colombia square off Tuesday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, in the second leg of a two-game playoff to determine the final entrant for the 2016 Olympic Games (9:30 p.m. ET).
The USA earned a 1-1 draw in Friday’s opening leg in Barranquilla, Colombia – a good result on the road as the team looks to now finish off strong at home.
Following the result, a number of players spoke with USSoccer.com about overcoming the elements of playing in Colombia. From starting the game in the late afternoon when the temperature was 90 degrees to the lack of cooling facilities for the visitors, Colombia attempted to gain a home advantage in more ways than one.
PDL alumni Eric Miller (Portland Timbers U-23s), who started Friday’s match, and Fatai Alashe (Reading United AC and Portland Timbers U-23s), who was a second-half sub, described an interesting experience that included some noticeable differences from warm-up to post-game.
“The overhang from the tunnel is pretty low and we heard almost every insult in Spanish that I know, and I’m sure there was plenty more that I don’t know being thrown at us,” Miller said.
“Obviously some of them were saying stuff to you – some mean stuff – but you kind of just laugh it off,” Alashe said of the 20,000 Colombian spectators. “Some of them spoke English, too, and obviously knew some bad words! It was pretty cool to be able to experience that.”
“The Colombian Federation definitely took care of themselves better than us,” Alashe said. “When we came out in the second half, we saw they had water misters spraying down onto their bench. We kind of just laughed at it, saying, ‘I’m sure they’re all comfortable over on their bench.’”
“They still hadn’t turned on any form of air conditioning in the locker room, so we were trying to cool down in a room that was even hotter than outside,” Miller said of the post-game. “We found a room in the back on the other side of a turf warm-up room that had air conditioning. About 15 of us were piled into like a 10-foot-by-10-foot room sitting down and trying to cool off.”
For the full piece, visit USSoccer.com.