Olympic soccer teams have reportedly been given dose of good news in the run-up to the Tokyo Games.
According to the Associated Press, the International Olympic Committee has granted approval for participating teams to include their four alternates on their active rosters, expanding the full squads for the men's and women's tournaments to 22 players. Only 18 will be eligible to be selected on matchday.
That stipulation could go a long way for teams playing in a compressed competition after a year of compressed scheduling. For the U.S. women's national team, specifically, it means the addition of goalkeeper Jane Campbell, defender Casey Krueger, midfielder Catarina Macario and forward Lynn Williams to the original 18-player squad. The four players were already going to be traveling to Japan anyway and would have been on standby to join the active squad in the event of an injury either before or during the tournament, but now their involvement is guaranteed. Given that the average age on the U.S.'s 18-player roster was set to be over 30 upon opening kick vs. Sweden on July 21, this gives manager Vlatko Andonovski ample flexibility that he wasn't originally going to have.
The Netherlands' women's national team had been a proponent of the roster expansion, with manager Sarina Wiegman appealing to FIFA and the IOC. When asked about his feelings on the topic upon the U.S.'s initial roster release, Andonovski indicated that he was aware of the discussions and requests being made and that he was all for it.
"I would welcome the four alternates to become fully rostered players," he said.
He followed that up Wednesday with a further indication that things were moving in the preferred direction.
“We’re getting word from the IOC that we will have a little flexibility on the roster. We’re very happy about it, and as of right now we’re just waiting to see a little more details on what all the rules and regulations are going to look like,” Andonovski said.
“Obviously we thought about about it, we were preparing in some ways for it if it happened, so we’re hoping to be ready if the changes are in place.”
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