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Morris, Green, Miazga headline U.S. U-23 squad for Olympic playoff

Photo by Peter G. Aiken/USA Today Sports
Photo by Peter G. Aiken/USA Today Sports

U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Andi Herzog may not have his complete arsenal of weapons available in the upcoming Olympic playoff against Colombia, but he will have most of it.

Herzog unveiled his 23-man roster on Saturday for the upcoming two-legged affair with Colombia, and the squad includes a blend of regulars from MLS and abroad, including forward Jordan Morris, winger Julian Green, centerback Matt Miazga, and midfielder Wil Trapp.

Other notable players called in for the decisive matches that will determine whether the Americans reach the Olympics in Brazil this summer are midfielders Luis Gil and Emerson Hyndman, and goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.

In total, six players from last year’s Under-20 Men’s National Team that competed in the World Cup in New Zealand are on the roster.

Herzog was able to summon most of his top choices for the upcoming tilts despite the fact that clubs are not required to release players, but he could not get all of them. Centerback Cameron Carter-Vickers was a late scratch due to injury, and forward Rubio Rubin stayed with FC Utrecht after only recently recovering from a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

The Americans will take on Colombia in two matches in the next week-and-a-half, first traveling to play in Barranquilla on March 25 before returning stateside for the decisive leg on March 29 at Toyota Stadium in Dallas, Texas. The series will be determined by total goals, and the away-goals rule will not come into play.

Here is the full roster:

Goalkeepers (3): Cody Cropper (Milton Keynes Dons), Ethan Horvath (Molde KJ), Zack Steffen (SC Freiburg)

Defenders (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Miazga (Chelsea FC), Eric Miller (Colorado Rapids), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Desevio Payne (FC Groningen), Shane O’Neill (Cambridge United, ENG), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas)

Midfielders (9): Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Luis Gil (Queretaro), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham FC), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)

Forwards (3): Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Mario Rodriguez (Borussia Monchengladbach), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC)


What do you think of this 23-man roster? Any surprise omissions or inclusions? Think there is enough talent here to get the job done vs. Colombia?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I read an article yesterday about the selection of the Colombian team in a Colombian news paper. I found it very interesting that it almost misses to mention the fact that they will be playing against the US. No mention of what kind of rival the US will be to them or anything like that. The comments of the people are mostly about how players are selected based on what region they are from. Imagine that people from the east coast are complaining that only player from the west coast where called in or vise versa. Most of the fans assure that they have a very solid team and they all believe their head coach is garbage, that if they don’t qualify his head should roll, kind of what we say 🙂 Like us, two of their best players were needed more by the senior team. One thing though, none of their stars are injured… not good news for us. I just wanted to share the Colombian perspective.

    • I think our odds are pretty good! I Will be in attendance on Tuesday night at Puzza Hut Park with one of my best friends from Colombia. He does not seem confident at all about their side. They obviously have some talent but not one huge difference maker that I’m aware of.

      I say 50/50

  2. Polster is mediocre, my issue with this called up. Our weakest is DM role and CM that controls the tempo on an average rate. And, Rodriguez and Shelton aren’t tearing up with their teams. The rest of the team is fine with me.

  3. Looks like a 4-2-3-1, or 4-5-1. Morris up top with green and Jk on the wings with Gil, trapp and Hyndman in the middle. I would assume Acosta and Payne as the fullbacks and miazga and Zimmerman in central defense and horvath in goal

  4. My only real complaint with this squad is Shane O’Neill. I find it hard to believe that we don’t have a better option than an English 4th tier player. I’m hoping that the only reason he was included was due to clubs not releasing players like Canouse, Senora, & Stanko paired with the apparent injuries to CCV & Zelalem.

    • It’s a little worrying, the CB position here. I’m unsure of a Zimmerman-Miazga pairing, and even more unsure of substituting O’Neill in there … and even more concerned that those are our only three options.

      I think we’re set up to play with two deeper midfielders though, so maybe we can keep them from being too sternly tested. 4-2-3-1 seems to make the most sense.

    • O’Neill has had inexplicable club issues since returning from Toulon. However, he was named the third best player of that tournament and named man of the match in the US win over England. A mis diagnosed illness preventing him from being called up for the last round of qualifying, in which we all know the US struggled. Prior to that unfortunate series of events he was one of the U23’s most important players and the team’s captain. How quickly fans turn on a young player.

  5. My main complaint is the fact that Herzog is involved at all. How many times does he have to fail before it’s the last time? I have NO faith in him as a coach at all

    • Apparently according to you once since he’s managed during one major tournament in which they went 4-1. He finished 3rd against a pretty respectable field in the Toulon Tournament last Summer. By my count his record as a manager with the US U23s is 10-7 that’s a better percentage than Klinsman, Bradley, or Arena had with the USMNT. Unless your still mad his Austria U21 team didn’t qualify in 2011. Yes, we looked bad in finishing 3rd in October, but lets keep perspective.

  6. No Pulisic or Zelalem. I would have wanted one of those. No Carnouse. I guess that’s not a surprise, but I’d want him over Polster.

    Looks like Yedlin and Brooks will join the senior squad. Yedlin a no-brainer due to depth issues, but while I think Brooks is one of our two best centerbacks, I think our depth could have him been spared given that it is Guatemala.


    Bench: Cropper, Steffen; Miller, Vincent, Parker; Polster, Alashe, Kiesewetter; Shelton (only 20, right?)
    I would have swapped Polster for Carnouse; Alashe for Pulisic; Zimmerman for Brooks.
    If you go 4-4-2, then Green goes up top, Kiesewetter starts at the left wing, Hyndman or Gil drops to the bench, and you have to consider having Rodriguez on the bench (though not sure who you can drop).

    I fear Zimmerman is going to get crushed, ruining our hopes. The rest of the starters can play with Colombia.

    • Zimmerman has had a great start for Dallas. Every other starter for FCD struggled in at least one of their two games.

      Zimmerman has been very good in both.

      FCD has a South American culture so it’s hard to say that he’ll get his due for what he is. He’s an English-style physical fighter of a player similar to Jay Demerit.

      He has been excellent for FCD beginning with last years playoffs through this season. He seems to be a big game player.

    • Zelalem is injured and Pulisic is 17. This is a U23 tournament – do you think Colombia are bringing any 17 year olds?

      • Dumb response for someone that posts as much as you do and I assume closely follow the sport. So you are saying a 17 year old that is good enough to see the field for Dortmund and play against adults is too young to play against U23s?

      • While I disagree with slowleftarm’s logic, there is an argument to be made that it is easier to integrate a young, inexperienced player into such a talented squad. Its counterintuitive, and we’ve certainly never seen this type of situation, but as the weak-link in the lineup, Pulisic deficiencies would be covered and accomodated by the shear talent of everyone else.

        In a weaker squad, his deficiencies would be much harder to compensate, exposing a greater risk. Would Trapp/Polster be able to cover for a poor play by Pulisic as well as Weigl or Sahin? Will Miazga provide the same confidence as Hummels, which would allow Pulsiic to play with more risk? Does he have the same backing by Herzog as he does by Tuchel, letting him play care/stress-free, and show his attacking ability? or will he play it safe?

  7. Pretty strong roster even without the likes of pulisic, brooks, rubin, and Yedlind.This group will have a chance with this quality and it’ll be interesting to see if they can take advantage of the opportunity

  8. Good to see Arriola there. No Zelalem is a little surprising considering it was reported he would be there . No, CCV hurts because he and Miazga have been a good pair. I guess this means Brooks and Yedlin on the senior side.

    • You are putting it lightly. No Brooks or CCV to pair with Miazga is a disaster! Now imagine if Miazga gets a knock. Not good. Very disappointing.

      • Further proves my point about this age group – we are desperate for an 18 year old with zero first team games to play in a U23 side. Not good.

      • I am surprised at no Erik Palmer Brown. Hes been playing for Porto B lately. I havent seen him play recently but it would have been cool to see him in this team

  9. I get depressed every time the U23 roster is announced and not just because it means more I’ll soon have to watch more Herzog-ball, i.e. just mindlessly lumping it forward.

    It seems that hardly anyone born in 1993/1994 in the US is any good. Most of the guys with any potential are well below age 23. We seriously don’t have any striker under 23 better than an NYCFC backup and a third division 22 year old? Yikes.

    • Well Rubin is coming off an injury. Wood just barely missed the age cut and is 23. Agudelo and Mcinerney just a few months too old as well. Yeah it’s not great but maybe not as bad as that looks either.

      • Agudelo and McInerney? If that’s as good as it gets, that proves my point. That age group is pretty barren.

      • @Slowleft Is this some how news to you then? Did you think we’ve been hiding some world class strikers somewhere? Honestly I’m not even real sure why people are so high on Morris.

      • He’s talking about the 93/94 class. Rubin is younger than that and so is Green. However, Morris, Jerome and Wood are ’93. Wood and Agudelo miss ’93 by 2 months.

      • I was just responding to this question: “We seriously don’t have any striker under 23 better than an NYCFC backup and a third division 22 year old?” Shelton hasn’t been “an NYCFC backup” this year.

      • Great – he’s started two games. Shall I rephrase my question: “don’t we have anyone better than an NYCFC backup who’s started two games this year?”

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