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Olympic Qualifying Concacaf

Llanez and Soto headline U.S. U23 squad for Olympic qualifying tournament

19:19 GMT 11/03/2021
Llanez USMNT 2019
The squad features 11 players with senior caps as Jason Kreis looks to lead the program to the Olympics for the first time since 2008

Ulysses Llanez, Sebastian Soto and Johnny Cardoso headline the U.S. U23 squad for the upcoming CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers.

Jason Kreis has selected his 20-player squad for the upcoming qualifying tournament, which kicks off on March 18.

In total, the squad features 11 players that have earned caps at the senior level, including Julian Araujo, Jackson Yueill, Jonathan Lewis and Jesus Ferriera. 

The U.S. squad

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

DEFENDERS: Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

MIDFIELDERS: Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United FC), Ulysses Llanez (Heerenveen), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Andrés Perea (Orlando City), Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

FORWARDS: Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Benji Michel (Orlando City), Sebastian Soto (Norwich City)

What was said?

“We know that qualifying will be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that we’re ready for," Kreis said. "We’ll need all 20 players on this roster to contribute for us to achieve our ultimate goal of qualifying for the Olympics.

"We’ve had a productive training camp in Guadalajara and our players are hungry for the opportunity to compete. After starting this journey nearly two years ago, we’re excited to get started with the tournament.”

The road ahead

To qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 2008, the U.S. will have to emerge from a difficult group featuring two of the region's heavy-hitters.

The U.S. will open group play against Costa Rica on March 18 to begin the qualifying tournament, which is held in Guadalajara, Mexico.

After that, they'll take on the Dominican Republic on March 21 before a marquee group stage finale against hosts Mexico three days later.

Should the U.S. finish in one of the group's top two spots, they'll move on to the semifinals, where a win will see them advance to the finals and, more importantly, the Olympics as both finalists will represent CONCACAF at this summer's tournament.

The Olympic qualifying tournament was originally scheduled for March 2020 but was postponed due to the Covid -19 pandemic.

Further reading