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Bulls Abroad: No Metzger, no win for USA U-23s in Toulon

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The Red Bulls' lone representative on Andi Herzog's U-23 squad didn't get a run in the team's latest game in Toulon...

Christian Hofer/Getty Images

USA U-23 Men's National Team head coach Andi Herzog opted for vigorous squad rotation for this matchthe third in five days for his U-23 team. That meant some new faces in the starting lineup: 'keeper Charlie Horton and defenders Tyler Turner and Jalen Robinson got their first starts in Toulon.

It would be hard to blame the goals Costa Rica scored in this match on the new personnel. Ronald Matarrita scored in the 23rd minute with the sort of free kick that deserves simply to be applauded.

Fatai Alashe evened things up for the USA in the 30th minute, continuing what seems like a reputation-advancing performance by the San Jose Earthquakes' rookie in this tournament. But ultimately the Americans were undone by a slick pass to David Ramirez, who conjured an impressive finish:

That 54th-minute goal stood up as the winner, and Costa Rica - 2-1 victor over a heavyweight regional rival - will take bragging rights into the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.

For Herzog and the U-23s, there is one more game remaining in the group stage in Toulon - against Qatar on June 2. A win would keep alive the Americans' slim chance of progressing to third-place playoff. But one more game in this tournament will not make or break the USA's chances of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics, and that is the only priority for this squad.

Of course, the team will seek a morale-boosting win, and each player is hoping to do enough to stay in Herzog's plans for later in the year.

To that end, the fact NYRB II's Dan Metzger played no part in the loss against Costa Rica need not be taken as a bad omen. Benji Joya, who captained the team in its first two games in Toulon, and Cody Cropper - who was the starting 'keeper in those opening matches - also watched the full 90 80 minutes from the bench.

The Toulon tournament looks unlikely to end in glory for the US squad. In order to progress to third-place playoff, it needs not only to beat Qatar but also for results in other games to combine in its favor (the final is out of reach because France and the Netherlands still have to play each other - one of those teams is guaranteed to finish with more than the maximum six points to which the USA can still aspire).

But there is still time for the US players to make an impact on Herzog's plans for October. The true impact of this tournament won't really be understood until we see the roster for the U-23s next training camp.