USA to face Canada, Panama, Cuba in qualifying for 2016 Olympics
The road to Rio–and Rio Tinto Stadium–is set for coach Andi Herzog and the U.S. Under-23 men's national team.
The Americans will compete against Canada, Cuba and Panama in Group A play in CONCACAF's Olympic qualifying tournament, learning their fate in Tuesday's draw. Mexico, Haiti, Honduras and either Costa Rica or Guatemala will compete in Group B, with the top two finishers from each group advancing to the semifinals.
The all-important semifinal round (Oct. 10), third-place game and final (Oct. 13) will take place at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. CONCACAF has two automatic berths–awarded to the qualifying tournament finalists–while the third-place winner will play against CONMEBOL qualifying runner-up Colombia in a playoff for another place in Rio de Janeiro next summer.
Group games will be held at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas; Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado; and StubHub Center in Carson, California. The USA's games will be at the former two venues, with games at Sporting Kansas City's home stadium on Oct. 1 (Canada) and 3 (Cuba) and the group finale at the home of the Colorado Rapids on Oct. 6 (Panama).
The USA will be attempting to get back to the Olympics after not qualifying in 2012, failing to even reach the semifinal round after a last-second collapse allowed El Salvador to salvage a draw in Nashville that was enough to eliminate the Americans in the group stage. In 2012, the U.S. faced Canada and Cuba in group play as well, beating Cuba 6-0 and falling to Canada 2-0.
Mexico went on to win the CONCACAF tournament en route to Olympic gold in London.