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Cannon, Llanez, Ledezma headline USMNT Olympic qualifying squad

European-based standouts Richie Ledezma, Erik Palmer-Brown, Chris Gloster and Ulysses Llanez and Liga MX-based Sebastian Saucedo join a contingent of 15 MLS players on the U.S. Under-23 national team squad chosen to compete in Concacaf Olympic qualifying later in March in Mexico.

The U.S. Olympic Qualifying roster was unveiled late Sunday evening, with U.S. Men’s National Team regulars Jackson Yueill and Reggie Cannon leading the MLS contingent, which features a trio of FC Dallas players (including Paxton Pomykal and Jesus Ferreira) and three players each from the Philadelphia Union and Real Salt Lake.

“With a lot of games in a short amount of time, we will need the contributions of all 20 players on this roster to achieve our ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo,” Kreis said. “This is our sixth time together with this U-23 group, so I think we have a real firm understanding of how we want to play and who we want to be.”

The United States begins Olympic qualifying on March 20, against Costa Rica, before facing the Dominican Republic on March 23rd. The Americans close out group play on March 26 against Mexico. All three group matches are being played in Guadalajara, Mexico, and all three matches are being aired on Fox Sports networks.

Among the players who missed the cut are the New York City FC tandem of Keaton Parks and James Sands, Colorado Rapids fullback Sam Vines, FC Dallas midfielder Brandon Servania, Minnesota United striker Mason Toye and New York Red Bulls defender Kyle Duncan.

It is unclear which of the aforementioned players were wanted by Kreis, only to have their call-ups rejected by their clubs, but Vines and Parks are among the leading candidates. Atlanta United has also been identified as a team that wouldn’t release players for Olympic qualifying, which likely cost Brooks Lennon his chance to be part of the team (the same would have applied to Miles Robinson, but he is out injured).

The U.S. Under-23s will seek to help the program qualify for the Olympics for the first time since the 2008 Olympics. The Americans have fallen short in two straight qualifying campaigns, after being eliminated in Concacaf group play in 2012 and losing in a qualifying playoff against Colombia in 2016.

Here is the 20-man U.S. Olympic qualifying roster:

GOALKEEPERS: Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union; Wayne, Pa.), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes; Alamo, Calif.), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; Oxnard, Calif.)

DEFENDERS: Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; Grapevine, Texas), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), Chris Gloster (PSV Eindhoven/NED; Montclair, N.J.), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake; Las Cruces, N.M.), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union; Bear, Del.), Erik Palmer-Brown (Austria Wien/AUT; Lee’s Summit, Mo.)

MIDFIELDERS: Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union; Medford, N.J.), Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United; Federal Way, Wash.), Richard Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven/NED; Phoenix, Ariz.), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire; Lemont, Ill.), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas; Highland Village, Texas), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; Bloomington, Minn.)

FORWARDS: Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers; Bethesda, Md.), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; Plantation, Fla.), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg/GER; Lynwood, Calif.), Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas/MEX; Park City, Utah)


  1. 4-2-3-1 – Starting XI
    LW- Saucedo, 9/CF- Ferreira, RW-Llanez
    10/A-Mid- Ledezma, 8-Aaronson, 6-D-Mid- Yueill
    LB- Gloster, CB- EPB, CB- McKenzie, RB- Cannon
    GK- Marcinkowski
    1st Sub – Pomykal (10/8), 2nd sub- Ebobisse (9/CF), 3rd sub – Dotson (6)
    A bunch of talent left off, but to be expected, with a bunch of players starting @ home and abroad. This lineup has quality. Gotta start all of the players in Europe, right. Pomykal could easily start over Aaronson. Good luck!! Go USA! We will be watching!

    • My personal preference would be Pomykal over Aaronson….I just believe he provides a little more bit/attitude and with both Costa Rica & the US looking at the 1st game as almost a must win to advance, I’d want a more gritty 8 than I think Aaronson provides.

  2. I’ll prefer Chris Richard over Erik Palmer-Brown and Alex Mendes over H. Dotson but in general is an excellent group.

    • From what I’ve read today neither were released or would only have been released for the international window so no prior training and I believe would miss the first and last match.

  3. Good looking group, kinda lacking a real bite in midfield, which could be a problem, would have liked parks over one of the more attacking mids included in this group.

  4. A little shocked that USSF was able to get as many Euro players as they did (Ledezma, Llanez, EPB, Gloster); also surprised that Miles Robinson isn’t part of the team….guessing that Atlanta didn’t allow his release.
    That said, there is enough talent here to qualify for the Olympics. Especially if they are all there from the start instead of the Euro players joining just for the FIFA window games.

    • Miles hasn’t played yet this season. He got injured in Pre-season (or the first CCL game, I can’t remember which ). That’s not to say ATL would have released him if he was healthy, but he’s just back in training, and ATL has a train-wreck of injuries in their Defense anyway.

  5. Kind of surprised about Parks, Sevania, and Toye not being included, but it is a relatively small group and I’m not sure that they are better than the players included in this roster. A solid group, but I would like it better if we could get some of the European stars like Sargent, McKennie, and a healthy Pulisic. Of course, it may become academic if there is no Olympics this year, which is a possibility.

    • Servania is injured, Toye has yet to see the field for The Loons this season so take that for what it’s worth, Parks was rumored to have not been released due to CL.

  6. Pretty solid group, Chris Richards a disappointment but with Bayern II only 6 pts out of first probably not released. CCV always seemed unlikely given his team’s relegation battles. Impressive that McBride, Stewart, and Berhalter were able to get the Euro based players they got. Always tricky in this tournaments with only 17 field players to get the right mix. Aaronson and McKenzie looked good tonight vs LAFC.


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