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)