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Live Stream: Canada U23 vs. USA Olympic Qualifier

Follow along as Canada U23 take their initial step towards qualification for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics in a crucial tie with their neighbours to the south, the United States.

Canada Soccer

Canada vs. USA

9:00 PM Eastern

Kansas City, Kansas

TLN, CanadaSoccer.Com, NBC Universo

The Headliner: The Ultimate Measuring Stick

For the second straight qualifying campaign, Canada has been drawn in a group without Mexico. This means finishing first in their group is basically a requirement if Canada wants an automatic spot in the Olympics. Otherwise they will have to go through Mexico, who is the team that eliminated them last time around.

Panama and Cuba stand in their way, but perhaps the biggest roadblock in Canada's group is the United States, who will be the team's first opponent when they kick off their Olympic qualifying campaign tonight. It is a bit of bad luck that Canada have to face their most difficult opponent first, but it will also be a good measuring stick.

Should Canada beat the Americans, there is a very good chance that they will qualify for the Olympics. Few teams in this tournament are better than the States, so besting them would give Canada a huge confidence boost.

Grabbing an automatically qualifying spot is incredibly important, because the alternative (3rd place) would mean beating Colombia in a playoff.

Key to the Match: Re-creating the Magic

Four years ago Canada had one of their biggest youth team victories in recent memory when they beat the United States 2-0 in Olympic qualifying after goals from Doneil Henry and Lucas Cavallini. Henry is injured and therefore not on this years edition of the team, but midfielder Samuel Piette will once again be in the midfield.

It will be up to players like Piette to make the difference and remind Canada of the reason why they were able to get such a monumental victory: they were not afraid. Confidence is something that has long been lacking from the Canadian program, the team and even team officials don't believe in themselves enough to get the job done.

That is changing, slowly, and this group could quicken the process with a victory today. Qualifying for the Olympics would see that process reach a running pace.

The Lineup:

Canada: Crepeau, Gagnon-Lapare, Gasparotto, Thomas, Grant, Eustaquio, Piette (c), Mannella, Petrasso, Jackson-Hamel, Clarke

In goal Canada will stick with Max Crepeau, who carried them through most of the Pan Am Games. Canada will be looking for the Montreal Impact goalkeeper to take on the role of Michal Misiewicz who made some incredible saves for Canada in the last set of qualification.

The backline sees Julian Gagnon-Lapare, who is usually a holding midfielder, slot into the defence in the hopes that he can help strengthen the Canadian backline. In the middle will be a pair of Toronto FC II centreback Skylar Thomas and Luca Gasporotto. Jonathan Grant of FC Montreal will be on the right side.

Canada's midfield is the strongest part of its team, and what they will be relying upon to beat the states. It starts with holding midfielder Samuel Piette, the best player on the Canadian team. Directly above Piette in the middle with be Chris Mannella of Toronto FC II and Mauro Eustaquio of the Ottawa Fury.

On the wings, Canada will play Michael Petrasso of Queen's Park Rangers and Caleb Clarke, who had an excellent season with Vancouver Whitecaps 2. In the middle, Montreal Impact striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel will be Canada's biggest goalscoring threat.