It’s been 13 years since the US Men’s National Team qualified for the Olympic Games. Will the USMNT make it back to the Summer Olympics? Now is when they’ll have a chance to get back to this summer’s tournament. The U-23 side will need to be one of the top two in Concacaf to advance.
Will the USMNT make it back to the Summer Olympics?
The USMNT U-23 side is raring to go in the qualification stage for the Tokyo Olympic Games. The Concacaf nations had to wait more than a full year to get to these games thanks to COVID-19. Today the qualification tournament kicks off for the US under 23-year-olds, and they have their work cut out for them.
First, they will need to get out of the group stage. Their first match is being played tonight against Costa Rica. They’ll follow that up with a match against the Dominican Republic on Sunday, and conclude with a pivotal match against Mexico next Wednesday. The U-23 squad will need to make it out of the foul with a top-two finish to get to the knockout round.
Here’s a look at the US squad that will try to to make it back to the Olympics:
GOALKEEPERS (4): Drake Callender (Inter Miami CF), Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Marco Farfan (LAFC), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire FC), Auston Trusty (Colorado Rapids), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Frankie Amaya (FC Cincinnati), Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United FC), Andrés Perea (Orlando City SC), Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes).
FORWARDS: Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Ulysses Llanez (Heerenveen), Benji Michel (Orlando City SC), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas), Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas), Sebastian Soto (Norwich City).
This US U-23 side is full of MLS players who are hungry. While it may not be the same side that would have been chosen one year ago, they still have the talent to get out of the group. Once that happens, it’s truly do-or-die.
All-important knockout games
Once a team makes it out of the group they play in an all-important semifinal match. The winners of the semifinals get an automatic bid to the Summer Olympic Games. This is where the US has faltered in the last two qualification cycles. Could it be the stumbling point yet again?
Should this USA side make it to the knockout round, they could have a semi-favorable matchup. Since Costa Rica and Mexico are in their group, they would avoid having to play them in the semis. However, they should not count out the likes of any Group B team. Canada, Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti could win a one-off on any given night.
This is a huge hurdle for the USMNT. If they want to boast about having exceptional youth products, then they need to qualify for the Summer Olympic Games. These are the players who will have a chance to grow up and be a part of a possible USMNT golden age. Making it to the postponed Tokyo 2020 games could be the tip of that iceberg.
The journey starts now
The US U-23’s are playing inside the hour against Costa Rica. Getting three points from this match could go a long way! It is crucial for the future of the USMNT that they can get back to the Summer Olympics. We’ll see now if they can put the past behind them and qualify for the upcoming Summer Olympics. Be sure to catch all the action!
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Mandatory Credit: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire