'A very hopeful position' - U.S. U-23 boss Kreis offers Alvarez update after unveiling squad ahead of Olympic qualifiers

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Efrain Alvarez LA Galaxy 2020
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The LA Galaxy star is still mulling over his international future as Mexico and the U.S. both remain in the running

U.S. U-23 men's national team coach Jason Kreis says that Efrain Alvarez could commit to the program as the LA Galaxy star continues to mull over his international future.

Alvarez is eligible for the U.S. and Mexico, and was named in both countries' preliminary roster ahead of CONCACAF's Olympic qualifiers.

However, Alvarez was left off Kreis' pre-tournament training camp squad, although the U-23 manager says that he believes the U.S. still has a chance of luring the midfielder.

What did Kreis say about Alvarez?

"Efrain's a player that we were working with, talking with, about making a, as we said from the beginning, a very, very difficult and personal decision," Kreis said on Monday. "He's decided to not make that decision yet. He's decided that he wasn't ready to commit to one team or another, which puts us in a very hopeful position.

"We continue to let Efrain know that we support him, that we would like him to be a part of the U.S. men's national team program, but ultimately we understand that this is a very personal decision. We want to respect that."

Atlanta's decision

While there were a trio of Atlanta United players in Kreis' 31-player squad, they will not be joining up with the team after the club opted not to release their players.

Atlanta did so as the club look ahead to a CONCACAF Champions League campaign under new manager Gabriel Heinze, who takes over after Frank de Boer was dismissed last season.

The club opted to not allow their players to travel to Guadalajara as a result, depriving Kreis of Miles Robinson, George Bello and Brooks Lennon.

"Atlanta was an interesting situation," Kreis said. "There are two to three players I would say would have been very, very big contributors for us in this camp. We've been working for the past couple of weeks on trying to come to a solution that would be beneficial for both parties.

"Obviously, as I said, these are going to be big, big players for us in this qualification process. Atlanta wanted to keep the players because they're in the CONCACAF Champions League, and they're also dealing with some Covid stuff and so we thought we had moved to solution that was going to work and over the weekend we found out that Atlanta ultimately decided to not make players available to us.

"Unfortunate situation for us, an unfortunate situation for the players but ultimately, as a former MLS coach, I think we have to respect the decision."

Ebobisse's absence

Another player left off Kreis' roster was Jeremy Ebobisse, the Portland Timbers striker who has long been a part of the U-23 plans.

Ebobisse was named on Kreis' roster last March before the qualifying tournament was postponed, but was left off this time around.

"Coach's selection," Kreis explained. "We know that ultimately we're going to end up with a roster with probably two number nines.

"He's a player that I felt in the past was a player that could play winger and could also play nine, but through working with him in the January camp I walked away from that camp feeling very strongly that he is in number nine. And for us at the moment we have two number nines that we prefer to him so that's the decision."

While Ebobisse was one player to miss out, Kreis did bring in several individuals currently plying their trade for clubs outside of MLS.

Sebastian Soto, Uly Llanez, Johnny Cardoso and Sebastian Saucedo all made the squad despite playing abroad as Kreis and U.S. Soccer were able to get them released despite the lack of obligation for their clubs to do so.

"We tend to think that you tend to want to cover things with a blanket and say that any player that's involved with the European club isn't gonna be allowed," Kreis said, "but that's not necessarily true. As we stated in January, we made all the requests of all the players that we wanted.

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"Obviously, we got a lot of noes back when we got some yeses and we understand that different players have different moments it depends on whether or not they're being used a lot for their first teams or not.

"These are guys that have been in multiple full-team camps and are guys that are familiar with how to play so we feel very fortunate to get guys like that into this window, for sure."

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