Men's Soccer Preview

With an exciting crop of young prospects on the rise, the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Soccer Team is well-positioned to qualify for an Olympic Games for the first time since Beijing 2008. The men’s Olympic soccer tournament is a youth tournament. Usually limited to players 23 and under, with three overage players allowed, the Tokyo Games’ postponement to 2021 means the tournament is now for players 24 and under to maintain the restriction of players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997. After narrowly missing qualification for the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the U.S. will look to make its return to the global stage in Tokyo.

The Olympic Games in Tokyo should provide a stage for U.S. Soccer’s pipeline of rising talent. Many Olympic-eligible players have already gained valuable experience with the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, including Chelsea-based midfielder Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams of Red Bull Leipzig and FC Schalke’s Weston McKennie. They look to form a promising trio for the future of the men’s program.

Former U.S. international player Jason Kreis took the helm as head coach of the Under-23 Men’s National Soccer Team in March 2019. He spent his first year on the job leading the USA through several training camps and international matches in preparation for the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. Originally scheduled for March 2020, the tournament has been postponed and will see the USA aim to become one of two teams from Concacaf – the soccer confederation representing North America, Central America and the Caribbean – to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

The USA’s bright outlook stems from international success at the youth level during the last three years. Earlier in 2019, the U.S. became the lone nation to reach the quarterfinals of the last three FIFA Under-20 World Cups. In 2017, the U.S. was one of two nations to reach the quarterfinals of both the U-20 and U-17 World Cups. At these tournaments, the USA has demonstrated its ability to compete with the world’s best and will look to continue that success in Tokyo.

Several of the players that could represent the U.S. at the Tokyo Games have represented the USA at the 2017 and 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cups. Six players each from the 2017 and 2019 rosters have already made their senior U.S. National Team debuts. In the 2019 edition of the tournament, several American players made their mark. Paxton Pomykal put in time as the team’s captain and as a dynamo in the midfield, Sergiño Dest turned heads on the outside and Chris Richards locked down the back line.

Since the age restriction was put in place at the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992, the U.S. has qualified for four of seven tournaments. Two of the most decorated players in program history, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, represented the U.S. at the Beijing Games in 2008. The players who represent the U.S. in Tokyo will look to build upon that legacy.

Updated on July 17, 2020. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

The U.S. will be looking to return to the Olympic stage for the first time in nine years. A new generation of exciting young players puts the USA in a strong position to qualify at the 2020 Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.

Following strong performances at the youth international level during the last three years, the Tokyo Games mark another opportunity for the young Americans to make an impression on the global stage. The U.S. is the only country to reach the quarterfinals of the last three FIFA U-20 World Cups and many Olympic hopefuls will have represented the USA at previous youth World Cup tournaments.

Men’s Olympic soccer is unique in that it is a youth tournament. Usually restricted to players age 23 and under plus three overage players, men’s soccer at the Tokyo Games will be restricted to players age 24 and under plus three overage players, to maintain the age limit before the tournament’s

postponement. Another caveat is that matches are not limited to one venue, but are played across the host country. The U.S. team could play matches in Kashima, Saitama, Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo or Yokohama, including five stadiums used in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Christian Pulisic (Hershey, Pa.)

One of the USA’s most exciting prospects in recent memory, Pulisic has put together an exciting first year in the English Premier League at Chelsea, one of the world’s biggest clubs. The 20-year-old attacker is the youngest player to score for the U.S. senior team and became the youngest to score 10 goals for the team in 2019.

Tyler Adams (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.)

Bringing nonstop energy each time he takes the field, Adams has climbed the U.S. Soccer youth ladder all the way to the senior ranks. The midfield maven became a key contributor for the U.S. senior team after winning the 2017 U-20 Concacaf Championship and playing a significant role at the 2017 U-20 World Cup. He netted his first international goal on the senior team against regional rival Mexico to push the USA to a 1-0 win in September 2018.

Weston McKennie (Little Elm, Texas)

A voracious box-to-box midfielder, McKennie turned heads when he scored in his November 2017 senior team debut against then third-ranked Portugal and has been in the picture for the USA ever since. The versatile 21-year-old has shown the ability to make an impact across the field.

Josh Sargent (O’Fallon, Mo.)

Sargent seems to score goals wherever he goes. A last-minute addition to the 2017 U-20 World Cup roster, the forward tore it up in Korea Republic and earned the Silver Boot as the tournament’s second leading scorer, all at the age of 17. After captaining the U.S. at the 2017 U-17 World Cup, he made his senior team debut in May 2018, scoring in his first cap.

In addition to host nation Japan, 15 nations will qualify for the men’s tournament from six separate continental competitions. The 2020 Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, featuring teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean was originally scheduled for March 2020 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and has been postponed. The USA is slated to face Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Mexico in the tournament’s group stage. The top two teams from both four-team groups advance to the semi-finals, with the semi-final winners punching their tickets to Tokyo.
· Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship - TBD
    · Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship - TBD