The United States are trying desperately to avoid not sending a team to the Olympics for the second cycle in a row. Even with Colombia standing in the way of their under-23 squad, they got an excellent result in the first leg of the qualification playoff tie. Earning a 1-1 draw in Barranquilla is no easy task, but they pulled it off and put themselves into a good position for the home leg of the tie.
Now the USMNT U-23s need to finish the job, using the home crowd in Frisco, Texas, to their advantage. They hold an away goal advantage, which makes their first priority keeping Colombia off the board at all costs. Scoring early would also be a huge boost to the team's confidence, putting Colombia on the ropes and forcing them into desperation mode -- a mode in which most young teams tend to make mistakes and expose themselves to giving up even more goals. If the U.S. can force those mistakes, that will be half of their job done.
Key United States player -- Emerson Hyndman
The creative midfielder was excellent at retaining possession and keeping the ball moving for the U.S. against Colombia in Barranquilla, but he struggled to consistently move the ball up the pitch to help create dangerous attacks. There were numerous occasions when the Americans could have had a dangerous attack, but Hyndman struggled to link up with Luis Gil or Jordan Morris with accurate passes. He needs to improve on his performance in this match because the U.S. will need him to help break down a Colombia defense that's likely to be packed in for much of the match. His teammates' attacking efforts might be for naught if he can't find ways to get them the ball.
Key Colombia player -- Andres Renteria
While Colombia's attack struggled to link up with one another for much of their match against the U.S. in the first leg, Renteria enjoyed great success working wide against Kellyn Acosta. Now, Acosta has his struggles playing as a fullback -- he's much better in midfield -- but Renteria was objectively excellent, constantly putting pressure on a beleaguered USMNT defense and providing the most consistent attacking threat Colombia had all match long. Colombia need him to put on that kind of performance again, and if he does, they might just be able to get the win they want.
Match Date/Time: Tuesday, 9:20 p.m. ET, 8:20 p.m. local
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
TV: ESPN2 (U.S.), Caracol TV (Colombia)
Online: Watch ESPN (U.S.), ESPN Play Latin America (Colombia)