Ricardo Pepi, Joe Scally, Brenden Aaronson & the USMNT stars who would be better off playing at the Olympics than going to Copa America

If you want to have some fun, choosing a fantasy U.S. U-23 men's national team squad for the upcoming Olympics is an entertaining exercise. There are simply so many options and so many good players that could feature in Paris this summer.

Yunus Musah has said he wants to play at the Olympics. So too has Folarin Balogun. Gio Reyna is also age-eligible and there's room for three overage players that could be used on, say, Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams. In an ideal world, the U.S. could bring one heck of a squad to France this summer.

It isn't an ideal world, though. The USMNT's priority is the Copa America, the big test on the road to the 2026 World Cup. That's not diminishing the Olympics by any means but, generally, the U.S. focus will be on competing against South America's best this summer as hosts of that tournament.

Players could pull double duty, but those will be special cases. By and large, it's expected that the U.S. will work with two different squads: one for the Copa and one for the Olympic Games. That Olympic squad, though, could have plenty of familiar faces as there are players both young and old that could really benefit the U-23 team.

From veterans who can provide leadership to rising stars who can use the minutes, the U.S. can go any number of ways. And, with that in mind, GOAL takes a look at which USMNT stars would be better off joining the U-23s this summer.

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