DAVID SMITH - Sunday, March 20, 2016
The group of 23 players that will face Colombia in a two-legged playoff for the chance to compete in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio has been named by US U-23 coach Andi Herzog.
A disappointing third-place finish in last year's CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship left Herzog's squad with the formidable hurdle to overcome in order to earn their ticket to this summer's games in Rio de Janiero.
The team will open the playoff against Colombia, who finished second place in South America's qualifying tournament, on March 25 in Barranquilla, Colombia. The return leg will be played four days later in FC Dallas' home of Toyota Park.
Their South American counterparts will offer a stiff challenge to Herzog's chosen 23 as they try to return to the tournament for the first time since 2008, where they were unable to progress past the group stage.
Colombia finished second place in the gruelling 9-game South American Youth Football Championship in early-2015, where they barely secured the necessary placement in the second group stage by both defeating Brazil and seeing first-place winners Argentina beat Uruguay in the final round of play.
The other 15 teams for the final tournament have already been set, with the field including reigning champions Mexico, as well as winners of the previous two editions Argentina.
The named roster includes a selection of players from MLS, Europe and Mexico, many of whom are earning significant first-team minutes with their respective clubs. Nine of the selections have already been capped by Jürgen Klinsmann at the senior level.
Two notable absences include on-loan Arsenal reservist Gedion Zelalem and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic, both of whom were left with their respective clubs for the break.
Also missing are defenders Deandre Yedlin and John Brooks, who were selected for the senior squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala.
Cropper, Cody: MK Dons (England)
Horvath, Ethan: Molde (Norway)
Steffan, Zach: Freiburg (Germany)
Acosta, Kellyn: FC DAllas (MLS)
Mizaga, Matt: Chelsea (England)
Miller, Eric: Colorado Rapids (MLS)
Parker, Tim: Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS)
Payne, Desevio: FC Groningen (Holland)
O'Neill, Shane: Cambridge United (England)
Vincent, Brandon: Chicago Fire (MLS)
Zimmerman, Walker: FC Dallas (MLS)
Alashe, Fatai: San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
Arriola, Paul: Club Tijuana (Mexico)
Gil, Luis: Queretaro (Mexico)
Green, Julian: FC Bayern (Germany)
Hyndman, Emerson: Fulham FC (England)
Kiesewetter, Jerome: VfB Stuttgart (Germany)
Polster, Matt: Chicago Fire (MLS)
Serna, Dillon: Colorado Rapids (MLS)
Trapp, Will: Columbus Crew (MLS)
Morris, Jordan: Seattle Sounders (MLS)
Rodriguez, Mario: Borussia Mönchengladbach (Germany)
Shelton, Khiry: New York City FC (MLS)