Home News 26 Players Called Up...

26 Players Called Up For Last U.S. Men’s Soccer Camp Before Olympic Qualifying

By Chrös McDougall | Jan. 05, 2021, 4:02 p.m. (ET)

Djordje Mihailovic controls the ball during the second half of the international friendly against Panama on Jan. 27, 2019 in Glendale, Ariz.

 

The quest to send a U.S. men’s soccer team to the Olympics for the first time since 2008 is heating back up as 26 players convene this month in Bradenton, Florida.

The roster of mostly MLS-based U-23 players will train alongside 12 members of the senior national team in a modified version of the program’s traditional January camp.

The camp is the last scheduled meeting of the Olympics-eligible team prior to the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship in March, though details of that tournament — including the location — have yet to be announced.

“With Olympic qualifying approaching quickly, this training camp is a great opportunity to prepare ourselves and evaluate some new faces,” coach Jason Kreis said in a press release.

The camp comes at the beginning of what will be a busy year for the U.S. program, which in addition to Olympic qualifying will also begin 2022 World Cup qualifying and field teams in the Gold Cup and final round of the Concacaf Nations League.

“For the senior team players, this is an opportunity to continue to develop as a group and build on the foundation of a busy and challenging year,” U.S. senior team coach Gregg Berhalter said in the same press release. “Being alongside our U-23 team gives that group a chance to prepare for Olympic qualifying while further integrating into our culture and game model.”

Olympic men’s soccer is typically limited to U-23 players, with three older players allowed to join them at the Games. However, this year’s team will effectively be a U-24 squad after FIFA changed the age cutoff to account for the one-year postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The January roster includes a handful of key MLS contributors, including midfielder Jackson Yueill and forwards Jeremy Ebobisse and Djordje Mihailovic. They are among eight players in camp who have played with the senior national team, along with defenders Julian Araujo, Miles Robinson and Sam Vines, and forwards Jesus Ferreira and Jonathan Lewis.

Mihailovic, who plays for the Montreal Impact in MLS, has five caps with the U-23 national team and served as captain in its last three matches.

Defender Chris Gloster from PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands and midfielder Bryang Kayo from Wolfsburg in Germany are the only non-MLS players in camp with the U-23s.

Meanwhile, seven players are young enough that they would also be eligible to play in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Notably absent from the roster are several high-profile and eligible players such as Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna and Weston McKennie. Because the Olympic tournament falls outside FIFA’s international calendar, pro teams are not required to release their players. While technically those players could be approved to play, that’s not expected, especially with such a busy senior national team schedule in 2021.

The U.S. U-23 team was last together in March 2020 in preparation for an Olympic qualifying tournament that was to take place March 20-April 1 in Guadalajara, Mexico. However, that tournament was canceled amidst the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Two teams from the Concacaf region — which includes North America, Central America and the Caribbean — will qualify for the Tokyo Games.

“While 2020 was a very challenging year, it was impressive to see so many U-23-eligible players make major strides on the field,” Kries said. “Some of them have been involved with the senior team over the last few months and it’s exciting to now get our players and staff back together in camp alongside Gregg and his group as we prepare for a very important qualifying tournament.”

Chrös McDougall

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.