Under Armour Inc. (UA) is enjoying a shot in the arm to start the week, up more than 4% in anticipation of second-quarter earnings numbers before the opening bell Tuesday morning.

If you think Tuesday's earnings release is just another earnings call, think again. Under Armour is in "make-or-break mode" from a technical standpoint right now.

And that could actually bode well for investors considering just how low expectations are set for the second quarter Wall Street is expecting a second-quarter loss of 6 cents a share, on average. Revenue is expected to hit $1.08 billion, an 8% growth rate (UA management had already been forecasting a mid-teen percentage increase in the second half).

The commentary from analysts is bleak.

Wells Fargo points to a "slew of negative athletic/sporting goods data points."

Jefferies says Under Armour's second-quarter earnings "shouldn't be great."

Needham expects "lackluster" results.

For Under Armour investors, all that means is that any positive earnings surprises could unload some big upside potential for shares this summer. And, critically, that crowded negative sentiment in UA's earnings comes at a time when shares are testing a critical price level.

Here's the chart:

It's been pretty hard to miss the downside move in Under Armour year to date. Since the calendar flipped to January, shares have shed about 28% of their market value, underperforming the rest of the broad market by almost 40%.

But since the end of the first quarter, UA has been consolidating sideways, hovering just above a key support level at $17.

Simply put, that's the line in the sand that bulls don't want UA to cross. If shares violate that $17 price floor, Under Armour has violated a lifetime low, and opens up the possibility of significant downside risk from there. On the flip side, shares are currently very close to the downtrend resistance line that's identified the top of UA's price channel. If shares can manage to catch a bid above that blue line, UA could be about to kick off a long-awaited change in trend to the upside.

It's anyone's guess which of those outcomes will end up happening at this point. But it's safe to say that earnings will probably be the catalyst that moves Under Armour through one key technical level or the other.

If you're looking for a buying opportunity in UA, wait for shares to catch a bid above the $19 level -- that's the first indication that shares are breaking out above their downtrend. Otherwise, if shares violate their key support level at $17, you don't want to own this athletic apparel stock anymore.

Under Armour shares rose 2.9% to $17.87 Monday afternoon.

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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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