Final U-23 USMNT roster set ahead of Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship
CHICAGO – U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Jason Kreis has selected the 20 players who will represent the United States at the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship, to be held in Guadalajara, Mexico from March 18-30.
Kreis selected the squad from a 28-player training camp roster that began training March 1 in Mexico.
“We know that qualifying will be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that we’re ready for. We’ll need all 20 players on this roster to contribute for us to achieve our ultimate goal of qualifying for the Olympics,” Kreis said. “We’ve had a productive training camp in Guadalajara and our players are hungry for the opportunity to compete. After starting this journey nearly two years ago, we’re excited to get started with the tournament.”
The tournament features eight nations divided into two groups of four teams. The top two finishers in each group will advance to the pivotal semifinal matches that will send two winners to the Olympics in Tokyo as representatives of Concacaf. The two winners will also meet in the final on March 30.
The USA’s journey to Japan begins when Group A play opens on Thursday, March 18 against Costa Rica (4:30 p.m. ET; FS1, TUDN). The U.S. will then face the Dominican Republic on Sunday, March 21 (7 p.m. ET; FS1, TUDN) and wrap up the group stage against Mexico on Wednesday, March 24 (9:30 p.m. ET; FS1, TUDN). The U-23 USMNT is aiming to qualify for its first Olympic Games since 2008.
CONCACAF MEN’S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; HOMETOWN):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union; Wayne, Pa.), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes, Alamo, Calif.), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; Oxnard, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (6): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; Lompoc, Calif.), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake; Las Cruces, N.M.), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution; New York, N.Y.), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire FC; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; Colorado Springs, Colo.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; Denville, N.J.), Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United FC; Federal Way, Wash.), Ulysses Llanez (Heerenveen/NED; Lynwood, Calif.), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal/CAN; Jacksonville, Fla.), Andrés Perea (Orlando City SC; Medellin, Colombia), Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas/MEX; Park City, Utah), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; Bloomington, Minn.)
FORWARDS (4): Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; Plantation, Fla.), Benji Michel (Orlando City SC; Orlando, Fla.), Sebastian Soto (Norwich City/ENG; San Diego, Calif.)
The final roster features 11 players who have been capped at the senior USMNT level and 10 who have been part of a final roster at a FIFA Youth World Cup. Ten players have previously won Concacaf championships at the U-20 level in 2017 and 2018.
Six members of the roster were a part of the USMNT’s 7-0 victory against Trinidad and Tobago in January, as forwards Jesús Ferreira and Jonathan Lewis scored their first full international goals while defender Aaron Hererra and midfielder Andrés Perea earned their senior team debuts. The Olympic qualifying tournament will be Ferreira and Perea’s first official competition with the USA after the dual-national players elected to represent the U.S. in January 2019 and 2021, respectively.
The Olympic qualifying tournament was originally scheduled for March 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are age-eligible for the competition and Kreis selected players from five different birth years: nine born in 1997, three born in 1998, one born in 1999, three born in 2000 and four born in 2001.
- The squad features players from 11 MLS clubs, with Real Salt Lake contributing the most (3). The Colorado Rapids, Orlando City SC and the San Jose Earthquakes each had two players named to the roster.
- Four players compete in countries with competitions outside of MLS: Cardoso (Brazil), Soto (England), Saucedo (Mexico) and Llanez (Netherlands).
- Eighteen of 20 players spent time playing in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, including all current domestic-based players.
- Twelve players were also named to the U.S. roster in March 2020 for the originally scheduled Olympic qualifying tournament.
- In addition to the 10 MLS players that came up through their respective academies, the remaining eight last played for the following DA teams: Dotson (Crossfire Premier), Kessler (Beachside FC), Lewis (Kendall SC), Llanez (LA Galaxy), Mihailovic (Chicago Fire FC), Saucedo (Real Salt Lake), Soto (Real Salt Lake) and Yueill (Minnesota Thunder Academy).
- Ten MLS Homegrown players are on the roster. Forward Sebastian Saucedo also started his career as a Homegrown player with Real Salt Lake.
- With five U-23 caps, forward Djordje Mihailovic has the most experience on the roster at this age level. He has captained the squad in its last three international matches.
- Goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski has appeared in all nine training camps for the U-23 USMNT during this cycle, including the team’s June 2019 joint camp with the senior team.
- Internacional midfielder Johnny Cardoso scored his first professional goal on March 4 vs. Pelotas in Brazilian league play.
- Along with guiding Real Salt Lake to the 2009 MLS Cup, Kreis also had success at the Confederation level in the professional club game, leading RSL to the highest-ever finish for a U.S.-based team in the Concacaf Champions League. The team reached the 2010-11 tournament final, dropping a tight 3-2 aggregate result to Mexican power Monterrey.
- In addition to the 10 players with Concacaf Championship experience at the U-20 level, forwards Jonathan Lewis and Djordje Mihailovic were part of the senior USMNT’s runner-up finish at the 2019 Gold Cup.
- Defender Justen Glad was named to the Best XI at the 2017 Concacaf U-20 Championship, while Ulysses Llanez earned Best XI honors in 2018 as one of the tournament’s leading scorers.
- The four players born in 2001 are age-eligible for the 2024 Olympic Games.
- C.J. Brown, Jeff Cassar and Steve Ralston will serve as assistant coaches to Kreis during the tournament, and Rob Vartughian will be the team’s goalkeeper coach.
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