USMNT U-23s Set To Face Colombia in Olympic Qualifying Playoff

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by DENY GALLAGHER

Four years of preparation has all come down to a two-leg playoff with Colombia for a chance to go to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The home and home series is a result of the United States finishing in third at the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, despite finishing the event with a +11 goal differential.

“We know we have to come out of that with somewhat of a decent result. The atmosphere down there is going to be tough. I’m sure it’ll be warm and there will be Colombian fans yelling in our face,” striker Jordan Morris tells US Soccer. “It’s our mindset that we all want to go to the Olympics. It’s a childhood dream we all watched growing up, and we’re two games away now.”

Colombia comes into the meeting having finished second in the 2015 South American Youth Football Championship. In the side’s two warm-up friendlies in 2016, the Colombians drew Honduras twice in a pair of matches in Fort Lauderdale last month. The Hondurans punched their ticket to Rio during last fall’s tournament after a 2-0 win over the United States.

While the Americans will rely on the strike tandem of Jordan Morris and Jerome Kiesewetter, striker Roger Martinez leads the Colombians up top. The Racing Club man has netted three goals in three appearances with the U-23 squad.

“They’ll be difficult games, for sure, but we believe in ourselves and the focus is on getting a result in Barranquilla and then getting a result here in the States,” said Columbus Crew midfielder Wil Trapp. “It’s a 180-minute performance, it’s not just 90 minutes.”

The series gets going on Friday at 6 p.m. when the two sides square off in Barranquilla, Colombia. The match can be seen of FS1.