CHICAGO (Oct. 19, 2015) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will face off with Colombia in a home-and-away playoff in March of 2016 for the final berth in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The U.S. earned its spot in the playoff after finishing third in the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, while Colombia earned its place after finishing in second place in the 2015 South American Youth Championship.
The USA won four of its five games in the Qualifying tournament, going 3-0-0 in group play with wins against Canada, Cuba and Panama, before dropping its semifinal match against Honduras and then bouncing back to win the third-place game against Canada. U.S. striker Jerome Kiesewetter earned the Golden Boot in the tournament as the leading goal scorer.
The Olympic Football tournaments are directed by FIFA, which conducted a preliminary draw for the playoff in March. At that draw, it was determined that the Colombia would host the first leg of the playoff. The second leg will be hosted by the United States. Venues will be announced at a later date, as determined by each team. FIFA has stipulated that both matches must be completed before the end of March, 2016.
The U.S. hopes to return to the Olympics for the first time since 2008 in Beijing, when it posted a 1-1-1 record but did not advance from a group that included Gold medalists Nigeria. The USA’s best showing in the Olympics came during the 2000 Games in Sydney, when the team defeated Japan in the quarterfinals and finished fourth in the event.