USA U-23 vs. Colombia U-23 | Olympic Qualifying Playoff Match Preview
USA U-23 vs. Colombia U-23
2016 Rio Olympics Qualifying Playoff Second Leg
March 29 | 9:30 pm ET | Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
TV: ESPN2, WatchESPN
The senior team is in a bit of a crisis, but the US Under-23s are in a good spot heading into the second leg of their Olympic qualifying playoff series against Colombia on Tuesday at Toyota Stadium.
The Americans got a result in the first leg in Colombia, tying the hosts 1-1 in Barranquilla on Friday to put themselves in a solid position heading into Tuesday’s encounter. The US will qualify for this summer’s Rio games with a win or a scoreless draw, while Colombia will advance with a win or a draw of 2-2 or greater.
Should regulation time end with the teams tied at 1-1, the match will move to extra time, with the teams facing off in two 15-minute periods. If extra time finishes scoreless, the series will be decided in a penalty kick shootout. If, however, both teams score the same number of goals in extra time, Colombia will advance to the Olympics via the away-goals tiebreaker.
Friday’s match was the first competitive meeting between the US and Colombia on the U-23 level. Both teams competed in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the first time the Olympic tournament was officially a U-23 event, but they were drawn into separate groups and neither advanced to the knockout stage.
The US obviously got a positive result on Friday, but they were firmly on the back foot for all 90 minutes. Colombia dominated possession, holding over 75 percent of the ball, and outshot the US 26-6.
That was partly by design, as the Americans were content to sit back and counter after taking an early lead in the fifth minute. While it worked in the Barranquilla heat on Friday, don’t expect the US to sit so deep at home on Tuesday.
“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,” US U-23 head coach Andi Herzog said after Friday’s draw. “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.”
The second-place finishers at the 2015 South American U-20 Championships, Colombia entered the series as substantial favorite to advance to Rio. They’ll be feeling the full weight of that pressure after failing to pick up a home win on Friday, and will no doubt come out swinging in Texas on Tuesday.
Carlos Restrepo’s squad has some serious experience for both club and country, with nearly half the roster having received past call-ups to Colombia’s senior team. They missed a big chance to put the series out of reach on Friday, but they have more than enough firepower to top the US in Frisco and qualify for the Olympics on Tuesday night.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Goalkeeper, USA – Yes, this is a position, not a player, but we’ve listed it because we don’t yet know who will be lining up between the sticks for the US on Tuesday. Starter Ethan Horvath had to leave Friday’s match at the end of the first half following a nasty blow to his head, with longtime youth international Cody Cropper coming on in his stead. Whoever gets the nod on Tuesday will need to perform well, as Colombia will likely test the US ‘keeper early and often in Frisco.
Juan Fernando Quintero, Colombia – A member of Colombia’s squad at the 2014 World Cup, the Rennes playmaker scored Colombia’s goal on Friday, burying a second-half penalty kick to tie things up 1-1. Long one of Colombia’s top prospects, Quintero has a world of talent – a good game for him could mean bad things for the US.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Cody Cropper (Milton Keynes Dons, ENG), Ethan Horvath (Molde FK, NOR), Tyler Miller (Seattle Sounders)
DEFENDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Miazga (Chelsea FC, ENG), Eric Miller (Colorado Rapids), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Desevio Payne (FC Groningen, NED), Shane O’Neill (Cambridge United, ENG), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana, MEX), Luis Gil (Queretaro, MEX), Julian Green (Bayern Munich, GER), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham FC, ENG), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart, GER), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
FORWARDS (3): Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Mario Rodriguez (Borussia Monchengladbach, GER), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Cristian Bonilla (Atletico Nacional, COL), Alvaro Montero (San Lorenzo, ARG), Luis Hurtado (Deportivo Cali, COL)
DEFENDERS (9): Cristian Borja (Santa Fe, COL), Yerry Mina (Santa Fe, COL), Jaine Barreiro (Santa Fe, COL), Luis Orejuela (Deportivo Cali, COL), Deiver Machado (Millonarios, COL), Felipe Aguilar (Atletico Nacional, COL), Davinson Sanchez (Atletico Nacional, COL), Helibelton Palacios (Deportivo Cali, COL), Jherson Vergara (Livorno, ITA)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Juan Pablo Nieto (Atletico Nacional, COL), Juan Fernando Quintero (Rennes, FRA), Yony Gonzalez (Junior, COL), Raul Loaiza (Patriotas, COL), Jose Leudo (Deportivo Pasto, COL), Wilmar Barrios (Deportes Tolima, COL), Andres Felipe Roa (Deportivo Cali, COL), Jarlan Barrera (Junior, COL)
FORWARDS (5): Roger Martinez (Racing Club, ARG), Cristian Dajome (Deportes Tolima, COL), Harold Preciado (Deportivo Cali, COL), Rafael Santos Borre (Deportivo Cali, COL), Andres Renteria (Santos Laguna, MEX)