The United States under-23 National Team have a crucial two-legged home-and-away playoff against Colombia in March for a trip to the 2016 Olympics. To begin preparing for the South American side, what better thing to do than actually go to South America and play a country with a similar style?
That's exactly what they'll do this month as Andi Herzog will take his team to Olympics host nation Brazil for a set of friendlies. The U.S. will face off against Brazil on Nov. 11 at Ilha do Retiro Stadium in Recife. Then four days later the two teams will play again at the Mangueirão Stadium in Belém.
Jurgen Klinsmann was thankful towards the Brazilian FA for offering this great opportunity to prepare for the vital playoff.
"It gives our players not only a chance to play against one of the best Under-23 teams in the world, but also to be in Brazil and get a little bit of a smell of what it could be then next summer at the Olympics. So this is a wonderful opportunity. We want to thank the Brazilian Federation for that invitation, and for Andi Herzog and his team it's a great opportunity to measure themselves."
-Jurgen Klinsmann; Source: ussoccer.com
The U.S. should bring a full strength squad to Brazil and give us a good idea of who is first choice for the team and who still has work to do. March is still a long ways away and the U.S. player pool is a volatile group that constantly shifts. Competition for spots between now and March will be an interesting story to watch.
Another aspect to keep an eye on is U-23 eligible senior team members like DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks. Will the federation continue to keep them with the USMNT or will they get desperate and finally send them with the U-23's to try and help with qualification?
With so much failure at different levels on the international scene, Olympic qualification has to be a priority for U.S. Soccer in 2016.