Tuesday's results were a mixed bag for the United States soccer program as a whole. Beating Guatemala at home was mostly to be expected, but it did make qualification for the Hex far more likely. And while losing to Colombia wasn't exactly a shocker, missing the Olympics for a second consecutive cycle was a massive failure.
From a Sounders perspective, though, it might not have been so awful.
It's been a frustrating start to the season for Dempsey, who has yet to score from the run of play with the Sounders. In fact, his goal off a loose ball in the box on Tuesday was his first strike from the run of play in any uniform since last October. He needed this. That it wasn't an especially pretty goal probably doesn't matter, as simply seeing the ball hit the back of the net is the kind of thing that can do wonders for a goal-scorer like Dempsey.
The goal aside, this was probably his best performances for the USMNT since the Gold Cup. As he did in Friday's match against Guatemala, Dempsey also had a few more good looks and easily could have scored more than the one he got -- notably having a header blocked by a defender and nearly scoring another while literally sitting on his behind. Dempsey also picked up a nice assist to Jozy Altidore that closed out the scoring.
What he said
"I thought we showed a lot of heart," Dempsey said. "We showed a lot of character by dealing with a pressure situation.
"We showed our pride. You've got to do that if want to make it to the World Cup. You've got to show that you want it, and we showed that we wanted it."
- via ESPN
What this means
From a larger perspective, this was surely a positive for Dempsey. While Sounders fans may not entirely enjoy sharing him with the USMNT, he clearly loves stripping on the red, white and blue and performances like this one assure that he'll be part of the setup at least through the summer if not much longer.
It was not so positive for Morris and his U23 teammates, who turned in a disheartening performance over two legs against Colombia. Even if you accept that Colombia were the favorites and the more talented group, that Morris really struggled to assert himself in any meaningful was unfortunate. Morris made some decent runs and looked dangerous at times -- and that out-of-the-boot shot off the crossbar was really spectacular, result be damned -- he's clearly not someone who thrives on creating his own chances.
But none of that should really be news. Morris is a player who excels when he can get a head of steam and there was precious little opportunity for that kind of play
What he said
"You dream about it since you were a little kid. So, it's a tough one to swallow."
- via the Associated Press
What this means
Morris was already a fringe USMNT player, despite making a cameo in a World Cup qualifier earlier this year and chances were that he was more likely to go to the Olympics -- if the US had qualified -- than he was to be included in the Copa America squad. In order to make a bid for a more regular spot with the USMNT, he was going to have to play his way on and nothing we saw in this playoff is going to push him up. Morris currently sits around sixth on the USMNT forward depth chart, meaning injury or stellar play are going to have to go his way. There's obviously still time for Morris to impress, but it will almost certainly need to be with his club play with the Sounders.