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USMNT brass to weigh whether to include Christian Pulisic in Olympic plans

Christian Pulisic may be an entrenched starter with the senior U.S. Men’s National Team, but there is a chance that we could see him play with one of the program’s youth sides later this year.

The 2020 Olympics are set to take place in Japan in the middle of summer, and there is a possibility that Pulisic could suit up for what is essentially the USMNT U-23s exists — assuming of course that the Americans qualify for the competition.

At just 21-years old, Pulisic is age-eligible for the youth tournament and could be brought in to help lead the team if both his release from Chelsea is secured and if the USMNT‘s brass deems his inclusion is in the best interest of all parties.

“Things like that will definitely be discussed,” said new USMNT general manager Brian McBride on Monday. “That will go all the way through (U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart), through myself, and through (USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter) and of course Jason Kreis, who is the Olympic coach.”

Having the talented winger play in an international competition such as the Olympics could help further his development, especially after he missed out on the chance to gain experience at the 2018 World Cup following the Americans’ qualifying catastrophe. This summer’s event would pit Pulisic up against several of the game’s fellow up-and-comers, and provide another platform to further showcase his abilities.

That said, the USMNT‘s decision-makers realize it may not be in the attacker and the program’s benefit to try and rely on him in Asia this summer. The Olympics coincide with the expected initial stages of preseason for Chelsea, and having Pulisic away from his club during that important stage could hinder his chances of winning a starting spot over the course of the Premier League campaign.

As such, the USMNT leaders plan to weigh all options with regards to Pulisic’s availability.

“The positions are given away within Chelsea’s squad in the beginning of their quest to get ready for the league and we have to look at that too,” said Stewart. “We might have the influence of a player going to the Olympics but not playing for a longer period of time (at his club) leading into World Cup Qualifiers and even into a World Cup later on. It’s not an easy process.

“We will look at the talented players that we have within the player pool and then see where those gaps are and filling those with elderly players and men’s national team players that can gain that experience but very closely engaging with clubs, not jeopardizing their future at the club as well because that will hurt us in the long run.”

Of course, there is no guarantee that the Americans even make it to Japan. The USMNT U-23s have not qualified for the Olympics since 2008, missing the last two editions, and were recently drawn into a tough qualifying group that includes both Mexico and Costa Rica.

The Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament takes place mostly during the March FIFA fixture window, but clubs aren’t obligated to release players for Olympic qualifying. That means it is unlikely players like Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Sergino Dest would play a part. The 13 Olympic-eligible players currently in the USMNT January camp, including Reggie Cannon, Paxton Pomykal and Mark McKenzie, are expected to make up the nucleus of the Olympic qualifying team.

Comments

  1. Call up Lennard Maloney he needs exposure he is a dual German American that is 20 that plays for Union Berlin in Bundesliga 1

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  2. He is already showing signs of wear and fatigue. He has and is getting enough big game experience, has more than enough on his plate w/ the National team and Chelsea. There are players that would get more out of the experience- which is where the Olympics should be in the hierarchy- a great development tool, but not the ultimate goal. All roads should enable-eventually lead to the ultimate goal.

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  3. I think it would be a good idea for a potential generation of players who need to win something. If the players WANT to play, and if their clubs will allow it, the Olympics could be a great way to give a US team a chance to medal or place. It has been a long (long, long) time since the 1989 U-23? and the 1999 U-17 with Landon Donovan and Run DMB.

    Let Pulisic- Sergeant – Weah – McKinnie etc try to get a medal for the Red White and Blue.

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  4. Interesting opinions on this article!! I’m all for USSF, calling in the best we have qualifying for the Olympics, or post qualifying. The Olympic squad, in years past, has been a barometer to promote players into the senior team. America has a history of keeping players too long. There’s also of history of calling up younger players, instead of letting players develop chemistry in their respective age groups.

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    • This is the Olympic squad, I thought, we’d see. After the November friendly in 2018 v Portugal. 4-2-3-1 formation.
      Sargent

      Weah CP De la Torre

      McKennie
      Adams

      A. Robinson Glad, CCV Lindsey

      Klinsmann
      Bench
      MF- K. Parks
      MF- EPB (Concacaf best player award, D-Mid(6)
      LW- Lennon
      CB- Trusty
      LB- Gloster
      GK- Scott
      MF- T. Tillman (thought he would play for US)
      F- Soto
      RB- Olosunde
      CB- McKenzie
      RW- Akinola
      GK- Garces
      Again this was 2 years ago! I know, this is dependent on club’s releasing players. I know, there are players who I did list, who aren’t producing and other players who are. Who wouldn’t like to see these players play together and establish some chemistry. The info I got on all the WC winners, is these teams were playing together in tournaments, since teenagers. Spain, France, Brazil, Germany.

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    • When I’m wrong I’m wrong. Listened to the Total Soccer Show yesterday and they were assuming Servania is being brought in to compete with Cappis and Yueill as a 6. I see it a little more after listening to them but still think his game is closer to McKennie and s Roldan than Bradley.

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      • I also watched the U20 Concacaf tourney, Servania held down the 6 w/ Anthony Fontana rotating. #Respect

  5. to me we seem scattershot and unfocused. for a team that missed 2018 we seem concerned about everything but re-qualifying. about changing system no matter the consequences. about making U23, even if we divert NT players, or have prospects playing for them instead of us for a year. maybe if we spend our time on anything but the NT being prepared for qualifying then it will take care of itself. like trickle-up.

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  6. Has anyone asked Christian? Maybe he has dreamed of repping USA at Olympics, consequences be damned. Or maybe he wants to stay with Chelsea, and not give up his hard-fought place in the rotation of one of the best clubs in the world.

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  7. it smacks of desperation to reinsert as a U23 a player you “graduated” out of youth play before even U20. it’s part of our inferiority complex that we see our U23 issues — for a team that barely exists for a few months each 4 years — as not mature soccer reality of a more professional team — GB/UK rarely enter, and Germany often doesn’t qualify — and instead as a development failure. even if you put him back in the pipeline, it’s not an international date, he has to get released, and he won’t be.

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    • I mean, your making a lot of assumptions and if i recall the likes of Neymar, Messi and others have been released for the Olympics as over age players so lets not jump the gun. Furthermore if the caliber of player already mentioned arent too big to play in the Olympics then why would Pulisic be? And its about winning trophies, so this idea that it accomplishes nothing playing in Tokyo this summer is in my opinion really silly

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      • you ran right past my point that the UK rarely participates in the olympics, nor does germany often qualify. U23 is a slapped together age group team at the end of each 4 years, not some long term development pipeline like U17 or U20. U20 is fine (though U17 isn’t). given that many elite teams don’t take U23 seriously or have issues getting their best on the field, while technically a trophy to chase, it’s not the one to worry about. i think we’re worried not because of rational reasons but because they’re sick of not qualifying and willing to take risks to change that. but what is the net gain to the pool? we already know pulisic is good. age group soccer is supposed to be about identifying adult age contributors, not winning for the sake of winning.

    • UK rarely participates. Perhaps that’s because they are seldom a top 4 team in Europe which was it takes to qualify. The 2019 U21 Euros was used as the qualifier. England’s roster included Tammy Abraham, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mason Mount, James Maddison and bunch of others who play regularly in the EPL or Championship. Germany, Spain, and France all qualified with Romania being the surprise of the tournament. Romania was led by Gheorghe Hagi’s son and guy that went thru Inters youth system and starts for Reading.

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      • Johnnyrazor — I think you could use some more color here. “Team GB” doesn’t really exist on any sort of regular basis, because quite frankly Wales, Northern Ireland and (especially) Scotland want nothing to do with it. They see this is the first step towards the elimination of their footballing autonomy. As a matter of fact, Scotland twice (in both 1992 and 1996) finished in qualifying positions for the Olympics but did not do so, because the only avenue for participation was under the Team Great Britain (Scotland does not have its own Olympic team, nor does Wales or Northern Ireland). Similarly, England finished in a qualifying spot in 2008 but chose not to enter a side, allowing Italy to enter in their vacated spot. Basically, none of the countries want anything to do with “Britain” as their footballing identity.
        ****************************************************
        An exception was made in 2012 because London was selected as host, and it was determined to be embarrassing that the “birthplace of football” would not have a team at their own Olympics. So after a long and protracted negotiation (which resulted in Scotland still not providing any players, and Wales somehow providing all 3 of the overage players), a team was assembled. The team flamed out without a medal and little interest has been shown since.
        ****************************************************
        For some reason, nobody seems to care on the women’s side. Apparently there will be a “Women’s Team GB” competing next year. Go figure.

      • i already knew the history on the UK. that was part of my point. similarly, Germany routinely doesn’t qualify. no one freaks out and acts like it’s killing their NT. because they know that U23 is a slap-together Olympic age group focused on once every 4 years with release issues and narrow qualification, not a serious age group that trains together for years and then plays a world championship with broader participation. many of the countries we want to be like take U20 seriously but not U23. i see this as like our possession 433 fetish or the idea that our players have to be accumulating first team club minutes before we cap them, and that it’s thus justified to call second tier players who can’t even make U20 ahead of the starters from that team, whose European careers have a longer starting curve. so we call the waterboy ahead of the starter. there is so much absurdly fake cant that we are taking as true right now. you want to change how the NT does? focus on things that change its results tangibly and visibly. not resolving some sort of U23 grudge.

    • Hah, Gomer was not thinking of it that way. What UEFA does get right is having their qualifying in the Summer where guys are available.

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      • I got to the line where you said it “smacks of desperation” and thought, “Either that or gold-medal ambition, which…well…this is the correct year for the USA to have that, I think.”

      • again, what you’re missing is the U23 age group isn’t a big deal and some top 10 world teams in fact blow it off or struggle at it. to me U20 has the fuller schedule, years of games, and fuller participation. and you see the US slots in to that competition much better. this is a weak sauce panic because americans obsess about winning everything. we should be more concerned with what’s going on at U17 (where we have full player access and suck) or the NT. i would take U23 seriously when they schedule for all 4 years or have more tournaments and meet regularly and release players for international dates the same.

      • it also bears noting that when we screw up in U23 there seem to be no lasting impact on the players involved. personally i thought how bad johnson and hamid played said something telling. they have gone on to be allowed to repeatedly appear for the NT and screw up there. so we oddly seem to care more about the results than the success or failures of the participating players. which to me is instead the point of youth age group teams, is sorting out which ones are great and which ones suck or crack under pressure.

  8. It is just too much. International breaks every month, non stop international tournaments. You know the clubs will play them too much.
    Too much.

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    • i wouldn’t say it’s completely useless, but to me our decisionmaking should be more player specific** and in pulisic’s case i agree that he in particular starts to look very very tired when overused. pulisic is not landon. **by player-specific i mean that like our current obsession with club affiliation and playing time should get more nuanced. reyna is being fast tracked to dortmund’s first team but we’re still handling him like a kid for our system. meanwhile aaronson who couldn’t make U20 gets treated like NT material just for starting in MLS. and there are players like Weah and Lewis whose NT performance seems to have nothing to do with playing time, while Wood gets very rusty when not used. quit doing so much one size fits all.

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  9. No. Pulisic is too good for that age group, that spot is less establish talent, and at this moment we have no replacement for Pulisic. Maybe Reyna is playing beyond 17 yr, or the kid Astonvilla with Slavic name.

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    • people are talking about Reyna like a kid. Reyna is on the Sargent fast track and will now be training with Dortmund first team with a roster number. at this rate he will be unavailable in the summer as a first team player. meanwhile the US will treat him like a kid. the irony is we used to anticipate this kind of fast developer back in the landon/beasley/pulisic days. now we will wait for dortmund to say he’s ready. for a team with players around the world we are getting passive and deferential.

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      • Landon played one match before he played for San Jose by the time he played his second match he had 20 MLS appearances. Beasley had almost 2 full MLS seasons before his first cap. Pulisic wasn’t called in until after he played in U17 WC and made several appearances for BvB after joining Dortmund’s senior squad after Winter break.

      • has playing neymar or messi as overage helped those fading NTs to be more competitive again? so they go play olympics and then at the following world cup brazil is out quarters and spain is out round of 16. so what.

      • Imperative Voice — As a heads up, it may shock you to learn that Lionel Messi is not, in fact, Spanish.

      • and by the same token chicharito was told “no.” there is no single answer here, and to me it matters that everytime we overwork pulisic he looks exhausted, or that this becomes yet another pulisic showcase when what we need is to develop other players to play alongside him at NT or when he is hurt, which has happened some. we are narrowly obsessed with short termism and showcasing our stars, as opposed to building a 23 man team who can win when it counts and surpass Mexico. letting Pulisic show up U23s is not going to make the NT any better, which I think should be the focus. for that matter with a young NT pool i think the obsession with keeping younger players on U23 is actually a distraction.

  10. “We will look at the talented players that we have within the player pool and then see where those gaps are and filling those with “elderly” players” Does this mean Wondo and Altidore?

    Pulisic will be injured at the time so this is a moot point.

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  11. No. Absolutely not. He’s already proven to be made of glass. He cannot afford to risk injury. In fact, I want no regular USMNT player anywhere near the Olympics. I’d prefer not to even use the 3 allotted over-age players if we make it.

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