Every U-23 MNT player is looking forward to Tuesday’s Olympic Qualifying Playoff match against Colombia at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas (8:30 p.m. CT, live on ESPN2).
But for midfielder Emerson Hyndman, the game has even more meaning.
The 19-year-old left his hometown of Plano, Texas for London, England four years ago to embark on his professional career with Fulham FC.
This week he returns to his old stomping grounds, the home of his former Development Academy team, FC Dallas – to play with the U-23 MNT for a shot at making it to the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The teams enter the second leg tied 1-1 after the USA pulled out a tough draw and scored an important road goal last Friday in Barranquilla, Colombia.
“Coming back to Dallas is a great opportunity for me personally,” Hyndman said. “I’ll have a lot of family and friends there that have never seen me play before. So it’s special for me. But just to be in the U.S. in general, and to have USA fans behind all of us will be a big boost.”
While this will be Hyndman’s first game at this level in the area, in 2013 he starred for Fulham FC’s Academy team that won the Super Group at prestigious Dallas Cup youth tournament at Toyota Stadium.
On Tuesday, his parents will be the game, as will family that is flying in from across the country, including his grandfather Schellas Hyndman - the legendary SMU men’s coach who also led FC Dallas to the 2010 MLS Cup title game.
“We know how close we are,” Hyndman said of the matchup. “The score is 1-1 but we’re going to start fresh. We’re going to try to go out there and get a victory, and if not than we’re going to look at our tactics to see what we need to do depending on the score.”
The U-23 MNT has never played a qualifying game in Texas, but the group will look to continue the incredible form both the men and women’s national teams have established in the state. The MNT owns a 19-game unbeaten streak in Texas while the women have never lost in 18 matches in the Lone Star State, including three wins at Toyota Stadium in February during the Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.
“For the U.S. to go to the Olympics is a huge deal, and obviously we want to be part of that as a group. Playing in Dallas, I hope to make this a special one and clinch a spot in the Olympics.”