The U.S. men will hope to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 2008 and are continuing preparations by playing against the host nation to close camp.
The U.S. Under-23 men's national team continues preparations for Olympic qualifying with a September camp in California featuring a mix of MLS talent and some intriguing players based abroad.
The U.S. men haven't qualified for the Olympics since 2008, a mark of shame on the program after qualifying failures on home soil ahead of the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. The U.S., coached by former Real Salt Lake, NYCFC and Orlando City manager Jason Kreis, is hoping to end that run of futility, but it will have to do so in enemy territory, with Concacaf staging its qualifying tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico, next spring. It will be there that the two finalists in the region's qualifying tournament secure the automatic bids and a trip to Tokyo.
The tricky thing about organizing a U-23 camp, especially months out of a tournament, is that clubs aren't forced to release their players like they would be for a senior-team camp during an official international window. That complicates matters considerably. For example, say that Kreis wanted Josh Sargent and Sergiño Dest–two age-eligible players who figure to factor into the final makeup of the U-23 squad–for this camp. Werder Bremen and Ajax wouldn't have to release them. But since the senior team came calling, they were obligated to be released, and that's where those players are allocated this window. Their absences in this camp don't mean a thing in terms of their prospects for representing the U-23s and aiding in the qualifying effort.
As a result, though, opportunities arise for some other players who have been given the green light to join this camp. Among them are Minnesota United's breakout duo of Hassani Dotson and Mason Toye and U.S. U-20 World Cup stars Chris Gloster, Alex Mendez and Sebastian Soto.
Three clubs whose youth development is among the best in MLS are heavily represented, with Real Salt Lake and the Philadelphia Union sending four players apiece and FC Dallas featuring three–including Jesus Ferreira, the son of former MLS MVP David Ferreira, who has dual USA-Colombia citizenship. Paxton Pomykal and Reggie Cannon, two other age-eligible FC Dallas talents, are with the U.S. senior team instead.
The camp will include a friendly vs. Olympic host nation Japan in Chula Vista, Calif., on Sept. 9.
Here's the team in full:
GOALKEEPERS: Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Andrew Thomas (Stanford)
DEFENDERS: Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Chris Gloster (PSV Eindhoven), Niko Hamalainen (Kilmarnock FC), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union)
MIDFIELDERS: Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Edwin Cerrillo (FC Dallas), Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United FC), Alex Mendez (Ajax), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Brandon Servania (FC Dallas)
FORWARDS: Omir Fernandez (New York Red Bulls), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake), Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake), Sebastian Soto (Hannover 96), Mason Toye (Minnesota United FC), Haji Wright (VVV-Venlo)