The United States youth teams have too long been falling short of expectations, but their under-23's have the chance to correct some of those woes. While they failed to directly qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, they still have a chance to get to Brazil if they can find a way to get past the extremely talented Colombia side over two legs.
The U.S. reached this playoff qualifier after finishing third in CONCACAF's Olympics qualifying tournament last year, while Colombia finished second to Argentina at the CONMEBOL youth football championship early in 2015. The first leg of this playoff tie is in Colombia, potentially putting the USMNT youths at a disadvantage at the start -- but if they can get something out of this match, a trip to Brazil might still be in their future. They'll have to be focused and they'll have to step up their quality, but that dream isn't out of their reach just yet.
Key Colombia player -- Juan Fernando Quintero
Quintero's club career hasn't exactly gone to plan, with the Colombian playmaker struggling for regular playing time over the last couple of years. But his talent is undeniable, with incredible skill on the ball and a great eye for attacking passing that makes him an incredibly dangerous threat to face, especially at this level. If he can gain any kind of an upper hand over his counterpart in the United States' midfield, the USMNT is going to be in a huge amount of trouble.
Key United States player -- Jordan Morris
The wunderkid who had drawn massive praise over the last couple of years has run over something of a roadblock since the MLS season began, with the 21 year old failing to yet score a single goal for the Seattle Sounders as they've struggled out of the gate. Still, he's the U.S. side's greatest attacking threat in this match, and he needs to step up in a big way -- if he performs as he's capable of, he has the ability to put his team into a commanding position going into the second leg next week.
Match Date/Time: Fri., 5 p.m. ET, 3 p.m. local
Venue: Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Meléndez, Barranquilla, Colombia
TV: Fox Sports 1 (U.S. - English), Univision Deportes (U.S. - Spanish)
Online: Fox Soccer 2 Go, Fox Sports Go (U.S.)