USA vs. Colombia Olympic qualifying playoff to be two-game series
It turns out the USA U-23 men's national team's final step on the road to Rio won't be a winner-take-all playoff against Colombia in the 2016 Olympics host nation after all.
Multiple officials told SI.com's Liviu Bird at CONCACAF's Olympic qualifying tournament that the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL playoff for a final berth at next summer's Olympics will be a two-game home-and-away series as opposed to a one-game playoff in Rio, which had long been reported and presumed.
The U.S. secured its place in the playoff Tuesday night, beating 10-man Canada 2-0 in the third-place game after coming up short in the semifinals against Honduras. Mexico beat Honduras in the CONCACAF title game, but both punched their tickets to Rio by winning their semifinal bouts and claiming CONCACAF's two automatic berths.
Andi Herzog's U.S. remains alive, but it will face a Colombia team that finished second in South America's qualifying tournament. The two-game series will be played during the March 2016 FIFA international fixture window. The senior U.S. team has World Cup qualifying matches against Guatemala slated for March 25 and 29, meaning Jurgen Klinsmann will have to decide if it's worth sending age-eligible senior-team players to the U-23 playoff in an effort to secure the Olympic berth that has eluded the USA since 2008.