U.S. Soccer national teams reset focus to 2021 with Tokyo Olympics postponed
Shortly before the world came to a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Women’s National Team secured their spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a dominant run through the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.
Meanwhile, the U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team had locked in their 20-player roster for the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship, and had arrived in Guadalajara, Mexico for the event before it was postponed on March 13.
As it turns out, neither the USWNT nor the U-23 USMNT will be competing in the Olympics this summer. The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, announced Tuesday that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed until 2021.
With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading around the world, members of the IOC and the Japanese government agreed to make the unprecedented decision to postpone the Olympic Games. See below for an excerpt from the joint statement:
“The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is “accelerating”. There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.
In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.”
With the Olympics being delayed by up to a full calendar year, both the USWNT and U-23 USMNT coaching staffs will have to hit the reset button on their roster selection process.
In February, U-23 USMNT head coach Jason Kreis announced his team’s provisional 50-player roster for the 2020 Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. That roster was narrowed down a final 20 players on March 9, before the qualifying event was postponed. Due to the age restrictions for men’s soccer in the Olympics, Kreis and his staff could be facing a major roster overhaul when the new competition cycle finally ramps up.
USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski won’t have the same potential for roster complications with no age limit in the Olympics on the women’s side. However, the roster will likely see substantial changes between now and 2021. The USWNT recently won the 2020 SheBelieves Cup with a 23-player roster featuring a wide mix of veterans and younger prospects.
While the USWNT has already clinched their spot in the Tokyo Olympics, the U-23 USMNT will now await the announcement of new dates of play for the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship.