While his LAFC teammates are busy with preseason preparations for the 2020 MLS campaign and next month's start of Concacaf Champions League action, midfielder Eduard Atuesta is scoring vital goals for the Colombia U-23 national team in their efforts to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Atuesta came up big in Colombia’s 2-1 win over Venezuela on Monday night, brushing home a chipped-in cross from six yards out in the 71st minute. His strike stood as the game-winner in their Conmebol Pre-Olympic qualifier, and vaulted La Tricolor into second place ahead of a final Group A match Thursday against Chile.
Colombia and Chile both currently have six points, so a positive result is needed for the former to advance to the knockout round. The top two teams from Groups A and B will advance, with two South American sides then representing Conmebol this summer.
The win over Venezuela also featured Atuesta’s LAFC teammate, center back Eddie Segura. They rebounded well from an early-tournament loss against Argentina, securing a 4-0 win over Ecuador before facing Venezuela.
Atuesta, 22, is entering his third season with LAFC after thriving in a deep-lying role for the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners, posting three goals and 11 assists en route to an MLS Best XI selection in 2019. Segura, 22, joined before the 2019 season and formed a formidable partnership with US men’s national team center back Walker Zimmerman.
Should Colombia qualify for the Olympics, and Atuesta and Segura make the final roster, the tournament is held from July 22-Aug. 8 in Tokyo. LAFC have four league games scheduled for that span.