Game Notes: USA Battles Colombia in Olympic Qualifying Playoff - 2nd Leg for Right to Go to Rio

CHICAGO (March 29, 2016) – The final berth at the 2016 Olympic Football Men’s Tournament will be decided on Tuesday, March 29, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas between the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team and Colombia. The Olympic Qualifying Playoff – 2nd Leg will kick off at 8:30 p.m. CT [TICKETS], live on ESPN2 following the U.S. MNT’s World Cup Qualifying match against Guatemala at 6 p.m. CT.

The teams tied the first leg 1-1 on Friday, March 25, at Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez in Barranquilla, Colombia. Luis Gil gave the USA a lead in the fifth minute however Juan Sebastian Quintero equalized on a penalty kick in the 68th.

The winner of the aggregate-goal series will receive the 16th and final berth to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero (see tiebreakers below).

U-23 MNT AT HOME: The group went 5-1-0 in matches played in the USA in 2015, outscoring opponents 18-4 behind goals from Jerome Kieswetter (5), Jordan Morris (4), Luis Gil (2), Mario Rodriguez, Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Emerson Hyndman, Alonso Hernandez, Marc Pelosi, Christian Dean and an opponent own goal.

April 22 (California) – USA 3-0 Mexico
Oct. 1 (Kansas) – USA 3-1 Canada
Oct. 3 (Kansas) – USA 6-1 Cuba
Oct.  6 (Colorado) – USA 4-0 Panama
Oct. 10 (Utah) – USA 0-2 Honduras
Oct. 13 (Utah) – USA 2-0 Canada

NATIONAL TEAMS IN TEXAS: The U-23 MNT has never played a Qualifying game in Texas, but the group will look to continue the incredible form that both the Men and Women’s National Teams have established in the state. The MNT is riding a 19-game unbeaten streak in Texas, including 13 straight in the Dallas-area and is undefeated at Toyota Stadium in three games, with the last game coming in July 2015, a 2-1 win over Honduras in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The Women’s National Team has never lost in Texas – its current 18-game unbeaten run includes five wins this year, three of which came at Toyota Stadium during February’s Olympic Qualifying tournament. All-time, the WNT is 5-0-0 in Frisco. 

TEXAS CONNECTIONS: Five players on the U-23 MNT have ties to the state. Kellyn Acosta and Walker Zimmerman play for FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium. Like Acosta, Emerson Hyndman is also from nearby Plano and also played with Acosta with the FC Dallas Academy before moving to Fulham. Khiry Shelton attended high school in the Austin suburb of Cedar Park. He also played in the Development Academy with Lonestar SC (Austin). And, while Jerome Kiesewetter grew up in Germany, his father lives in Texas and will also be in attendance on Tuesday.

IT’S BEEN A LONG JOURNEY: The first group of players with an eye on forming what would be the core of the Under-23 Men’s National Team was initially assembled for a five-day Under-21 camp in April 2014 in Carson, California. It was a domestic based group in which 19 of the 21 players were professionals. From that camp, Jordan Morris (one of two amateurs at the time), Shane O’Neill, Dillon Serna and Luis Gil have made it to the end of the Qualifying cycle.

THE FIRST U-23 MNT CAMP: The first Under-23 MNT camp for this cycle was held in August 2014 in the Bahamas and included the first match for the group. From that 19-man roster, Cody Cropper, Luis Gil and Jordan Morris all started in the 5-1 win over the Bahamas National Team and are available for selection on Tuesday in Frisco.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: The 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship determined the region’s two direct entries into the Olympics, as well as a third which would play the second place team out of South America in a playoff. The USA won its group by winning all three games; however, the team fell in the semifinals to Honduras and missed out on direct entry. The U.S. bounced back to win the third-place match against Canada and earn a place in the playoff. Mexico and Honduras claimed the two automatic berths from CONCACAF.

HOW COLOMBIA GOT HERE: With Brazil already holding a berth as host, the South American U-20 Championship in February 2015 determined the second direct entry for South America, given to the team that won the tournament. Two groups of five played a round-robin stage, from which the top three advanced. The six teams then played another round-robin stage, from which the top two teams were determined. Colombia finished third in the first phase, and then defeated Brazil 3-1 in its last match of the final stage to clinch second place. Argentina won the group.

WHICH COUNTRIES HAVE QUALIFIED? Fifteen countries have already qualified for the 16-team Men’s Olympic Football Tournament: Brazil as host; Argentina from the South American U-20 Championship; Nigeria, Algeria and South Africa from the CAF U-23 Championship; Japan, Korea Republic and Qatar from the AFC U-23 Championship; Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Portugal from the UEFA European U-21 Championship; Fiji from the OAC Pacific Games; and Mexico and Honduras from the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.

USA OLYMPIC HISTORY: The United States has competed in the Men’s Olympic finals 13 times, including five straight tournaments from 1984 to 2000. In addition, the U.S. qualified for – but did not compete in – the 1980 Moscow Games following a boycott by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The U.S. hopes to return to the Olympics for the first time since the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, where it posted a 1-1-1 record but did not advance past the group stage. The USA’s best showing in the Olympics came during the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, when the team defeated Japan in the quarterfinals and finished fourth in the event. 

U.S. U-23 MNT ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Cody Cropper (Milton Keynes Dons), Ethan Horvath (Molde KJ), Tyler Miller (Seattle Sounders FC)
DEFENDERS (8):
Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Miazga (Chelsea FC), Eric Miller (Colorado Rapids), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Desevio Payne (FC Groningen), Shane O’Neill (Cambridge United), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas)
MIDFIELDERS (9):
Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Luis Gil (Queretaro), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham FC), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
FORWARDS (3):
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Mario Rodriguez (Borussia Monchengladbach), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC)

USA NOTES:

MORE ON THE TIEBREAKERS:
The Olympic Qualifying Playoff winner is determined by the aggregate score from both games. In the event that the score is tied after both games, goals scored by the away team count double.

Since the first match finished 1-1, if either side wins on Tuesday they would clinch the Olympic berth. A scoreless draw would send the USA to Brazil, a 1-1 draw would force extra time, and any other draw would see Colombia through due to away goals.

If it does go to a 30-minute extra time, whoever scores more goals would win. However if neither team scores, the Olympic entrant would be decided on penalty kicks. But, if each team scores the same number of goals in extra time, Colombia would win by having more away goals (one in regulation, plus their total in extra time).

COLOMBIA U-23 MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER:
GOALKEEPERS:
Alvaro Montero (San Lorenzo, ARG), Cristian Bonilla (Atletico Nacional), Luis Hurtado (Deportivo Cali)
DEFENDERS:
Jherson Vergara (Livorno, ITA), Cristian Borja (Santa Fe), Jaine Barreiro (Santa Fe), Luis Orejuela (Deportivo Cal), Felipe Aguilar (Atletico Nacional), Davinson Sanchez (Atletico Nacional), Yerry Mina (Santa Fe), Deiver Machado (Millonarios), Helibelton Palacios (Deportivo Cali)
MIDFIELDERS:
Juan Pablo Nieto (Atletico Nacional), Andres Felipe Roa (Deportivo Cali), Juan Sebastian Quintero (Rennes, France), Yony Gonzalez (Junior), Jose Leudo (Deportivo Pasto), Wilmar Barrios (Deportes Tolima), Jarlan Barrera (Junior), *Guillermo Celis (Junior)
FORWARDS:
Andres Renteria (Santos Laguna, MEX), Roger Martinez (Racing Club, Argentina), Cristian Dajome (Deportes Tolima), Harold Preciado (Deportivo Cali), 

*Rafael Santos Borre (Deportivo Cal) withdrew due to an injury following the first leg and was replaced by Guillermo Celis for the second leg.

Head coach: Carlos Restrepo