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USMNT U-23’s drawn with Mexico for Concacaf Olympic Qualifying tournament

The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will face a tough road at the upcoming Concacaf Olympic Qualifying tournament in Mexico.

Jason Kreis’ squad has been paired with Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic in Group A of the tournament. The qualifying tournament is slated to begin on March 20th in Guadalajara, Mexico, with the tournament finalists booking spots at the Olympics.

The U.S. U-23s will open group stage play against Costa Rica on March 20th, before facing the Dominicans on the 23rd and Mexico on the 26th.

The top two teams from Groups A and B will advance to a semifinal knockout round that will decide who heads to the 2020 Olympics in Japan, beginning July 23rd. A final will be played between the remaining two teams, but both teams will have already qualified for the Olympics.

Group B consists of Honduras, El Salvador, Canada, and Haiti.

Unlike the Women’s Olympic Tournament, the men’s tournament features U-23 teams, but allows slots of up to three veterans aged 23 and older per team. Current USMNT stars Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest, and Tyler Adams are all eligible for selection, should the Americans qualify.

Eight of the 16 team Olympic field have already qualified for this summer’s tournament. Host Japan qualified automatically, while Egypt, Ivory Coast and South Africa punched their tickets at the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Egypt. France, Germany, Romania and Spain earned their berths via the 2019 UEFA U-21 Championship in Italy and San Marino.

New Zealand secured its spot at the 2019 OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Fiji.

The United States has failed to qualify for the past two Olympics, having last competed in the Olympics in 2008.


  1. Excited for this qualifying tournament. All the central American teams Wil just bunker. We will have to open them up and take advantage of set pieces. Mexico will be the most difficult team but with the guys we have a base of u20 players we are better than them. National teams aren’t about just one player but a team chemistry overall. We also have a very experienced coach which is a plus.

  2. We don’t need Pulisic, Dest, McKennie or Adams to qualified. The team needs: mental superiority, aggressive tactics, skill players over physical players.

    Ledesma, Mendez, Durkin, Soto, Gloster, Ricards, Sabbi,Amon and maybe Robinson and CCV or Weah (to regain fitness) are good enough.

    • no one is ignorant enough to think that the three of CP, Adams or Weston McKennie will be released to play in qualifiers…the hop though is that they are allowed to play in the actual Olympics, which would seemingly give us a real chance to medal!

  3. Costa Rica has qualified for the Olympics once since LA in 1984 that was in 2004. 2008 and 2012 they didn’t even qualify from Central America for the tournament, 2016 they finished last in the group being outscored 1-7. Their U20s have qualified once in the last four U20 WCs, the U17s twice in the last four.

    • CR squeezed by Guatemala U23 3-2 in home and away qualifying, would be my hint. but the first game will be the test of us anyways. get that w plus the easy next one and the mexico game won’t matter, both of us on 6 points, and mexico will go other side of the bracket for the semi. anything less than a CR win and you keep CR in the hunt and need a Mexico result. however this is age group ball, ES has knocked us out before, so we’ll see what happens.

      • It shouldn’t be an easy match by any means I’ve just seen people on boards and twitter acting like qualifying was already over because of the group. CR youth teams for whatever reason haven’t been as good as their NT.

  4. Actually the draw and the order of the matches may work out well for the US.
    We’ll need to start the tournament well against Costa Rica (Ideally 3 pts), but even a tie would allow us to possibly rest players against DR ahead of facing Mexico.
    2nd game, likely the weakest team in the group (possibly securing 6 pcs), before facing Mexico with the very likely possibility of already advancing to the Semi’s and both teams resting their best players.
    Even if we finish as the runner up to Mexico the path to qualification would then ride on beating Canada or Honduras before facing Mexico in the tournament final.

    Not taking anything for granted. We still need to perform and earn the opportunity to go to the Olympics, but it could have been worse.

    • The tough part is playing Mexico in Mexico in the group stage, wouldn’t expect points there. We really need to throw everything at the first two, apparently winnable, matches. If we can get 6 pts from them, then the path looks very favorable to qualify. But a slip in the first two, then needing a result against Mexico would be very tricky.

      • hopefully they don’t need the mexico points. the one possible issue would be if there is a very good 1st place A team to avoid in which case you have to beat Mexico in Mexico to take group A as you suggest. in terms of resting people, the games will be on 3-4 days’ rest each time so squad rotation will be necessary.

  5. The listed USMNT players are under 23 and eligible for selection for the qualifying tournament as well. They just probably won’t be called in for qualifying.

    • They could be called in for the tournament, but there is almost ZERO chance that their clubs would be willing to release them.
      Qualification will almost entirely depend on MLS players….but we will hopefully have enough quality to succeed this time:
      keeper: Marcinkowski
      Defense: Cannon, M. Robinson, Glad, McKenzie/Trusty, LB-TBD
      Midfield: Aaronson, Pomykal, Yueill, Sands, Mihailovic,
      Attackers: Ferreira, Lewis, Ebobisse, Toye

      Would love it if we could get 1 or 2 of the European prospects who haven’t yet made it to their clubs 1st team released for the tournament…(Gloster, Richards, Mendez)…but it’s a long shot.

    • i think some of the players listed are deemed “graduated” and won’t be used, eg Pulisic. they haven’t played U20 when still eligible for that and they won’t be U23 despite eligibility for that. this is one reason the US struggles, besides club-country fights over release and the lack of an international date, is the very best players in our program are no longer treated as age group players, even though they are within the right years. dest is the only one off the list i would think is a “maybe.” i think the more likely ones would be players still marginal between age group ball and a club first team. soto, reyna, etc. the ones further along would probably be told no.

      • I don’t think any of the bigger name Euro-based players will be called in either. But I wonder if the US could technically call anyone they want for the Mexico and semi-final games (as long as they’re initally added to the tournament roster, of course) since those are during the FIFA international window of March 23-31. I’m not sure if that window only applies to International “A” matches or would apply to this qualifying tournament or not. Again…I don’t think they’d use that to call up Pulisic, Adams, etc

      • strictly, legally, my guess is they wouldn’t be obligated to release players. you’re not just “called” but “called to a team.” players called to U23 i don’t think have to be released. that being said, you could make a practical/moral argument along similar lines, essentially, you’re not playing, you’d release this same player for this same period if i asked for them to play on the senior team, you’ll have practices before your next game after he returns. maybe if you promised they wouldn’t be asked for the first game and would be released after the semi — which is all we need anyway. now, they wouldn’t be drilled into the team like a camp player but i like sheer talent over system anyway, and more players is more talent.

      • CS: as IV stated they do not have to release for youth tournaments even in a window. The issue is that the matches also fall on either side of the window and typically the rosters are limited to 20 so it’s hard to say just come for part of the tournament.

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