Soto and Llanez headline 31-player U.S. U-23 training camp squad ahead of Olympic qualifiers

Sebastian Soto U20 World Cup France USA 06042019
Jason Kreis has called in a squad as the U.S. prepares for the start of qualifiers on March 18

U.S. U-23 men's national team boss Jason Kreis has called in 31 players for a training camp ahead of Olympic qualifiers, including four from non-MLS clubs.

Kreis' squad includes a total of 15 players who have earned at least one senior national-team cap, headlined by Norwich striker Sebastian Soto, Heerenveen's Ulysses Llanez and recently committed midfielder Andreas Perea, who has officially joined the U.S. program after previously playing for Colombia at youth level.

Joining Soto and Llanez among the international additions are Internacional midfielder Johnny Cardoso and Pumas striker Sebastian Saucedo.

Who is in the squad?

With clubs not required to release players for youth competitions, Kreis' team is largely MLS based, featuring familiar faces like Miles Robinson, Jackson Yueill and Jesus Ferreira, all of whom have featured for the USMNT.

A total of 14 of the players were in the squad for the USMNT's 7-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago in January, including Ferreira and Jonathan Lewis, scorers in that lopsided victory.

In addition, 16 of those called in have played at a youth World Cup.

GOALKEEPERS: Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union), Jonathan Klinsmann (LA Galaxy), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS: Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), George Bello (Atlanta United), Marco Farfan (LAFC), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Austin Trusty (Colorado Rapids), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

MIDFIELDERS: Frankie Amaya (FC Cincinnati), Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United), Andrés Perea (Orlando City), Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

FORWARDS: Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Ulysses Llanez (Heerenveen), Benji Michel (Orlando City), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas), Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas), Sebastian Soto (Norwich City)

Who isn't in the squad?

Among the notable absences is Efrain Alvarez, who has been named to both the preliminary U.S. and Mexico squads ahead of the qualifiers.

Alvarez is eligible for both the U.S. and Mexico, having played primarily for Mexico's youth teams thus far.

The LA Galaxy star was called in by the U.S. recently by head coach Gregg Berhalter, but did not play for the team as doing so would require a one-time switch that would permanently tie him to the U.S. program.

Also among those absent are Gianluca Busio, Jeremy Ebobisse and Caden Clark as well as a series of overseas players such as Konrad de la Fuente, Bryan Reynolds and Brenden Aaronson.

What did Kreis have to say?

“We’re excited to finally return to Guadalajara ahead of the Olympic qualifying tournament,” Kreis said.

“A lot has changed since March 2020, but we’ve seen our player pool grow and gain invaluable experience over the last year. We’re looking forward to a few weeks of preparation ahead of the tournament and we’re thankful for the cooperation of the clubs in releasing their players for this very important training camp.

"I'm confident that the group we’ve assembled can achieve our ultimate goal of qualifying for the Olympics in Tokyo.”

What's next?

The CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament is set to begin on March 18 in Mexico.

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The U.S. will be joined by the hosts in their group alongside Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, completing a difficult-to-navigate foursome to begin the tournament. The U.S. has not qualified for the Olympics since 2008.

In addition, U.S. Soccer confirmed on Monday that the USMNT will face Jamaica on March 25 in Austria.

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