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The USMNT Olympic team we won’t get to see


The sobering reality is starting to sink in that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics aren’t going to happen, a development that seemed inevitable even before Monday’s reports confirming the postponement of the Olympics. That doesn’t make it sting any less for U.S. Men’s National Team fans that had high hopes for the possibilities for the USMNT in Tokyo.

Of course, the Americans still needed to quality, which isn’t a given for a program that has failed to do so for three of the past four Olympics, but the unprecedented wave of talent passing through the USMNT talent pool made qualifying much less of a concern heading into the qualifying tournament, which was supposed to have begun last Friday.

As nations like Canada and Australia line up to signal their intent to skip the Olympics if they are not postponed, the Olympics now appear set to be pushed to 2021, if they are played at all. How the Olympic Committee will handle age rules for the tournament — making it a U-24 instead of U-23 in order to avoid excluding players who would have been eligible this year — remains to be seen, but you have to wonder how much of an appetite there will be for the Olympic soccer tournament given the overwhelming task world soccer will have trying to reshuffle the global calendar in the wake of the postponements of events like the 2020 Euros, Copa America and World Cup qualifying.

European clubs were already unlikely to release top players for the 2020 Olympics, and that reluctance is sure to only grow a year from now, meaning there’s a likelihood that a 2021 Olympic tournament will be a shell of the competition it could have been if the Coronavirus hadn’t come along to cripple the world.

The postponement of the Olympics won’t stop American fans from thinking about what could have been, and they have a reason to wonder because the current Under-23 talent pool is the strongest and deepest the USMNT program has ever.

What could have a USMNT Olympic team looked like? Here is the starting lineup, and squad that could have been put together (ignoring for a moment the reality that several clubs would have said no to letting their players play in the Olympics):

Zack Steffen, John Brooks and Jordan Morris are the three overage players in this projection. To be clear, it’s unlikely that Pulisic, Brooks or even Miles Robinson would have been allowed to play in the Olympics, but this lineup would have made a good case for being the best possible squad.

What kind of USMNT Olympic team could have been put together without any overage players? Here is one projection:

This lineup is a good glimpse into the future for the USMNT.

A USMNT Olympic team with as strong a squad as possible could have made some noise at the Olympics, and potentially captured a medal. Of course at this point it’s unlikely we will ever know what the above group could have done.

USMNT fan can take heart in the fact that whenever the Olympics do take place, the United States will have the talent to field a strong team that not only should qualify comfortably, but can put together a squad capable of making a run.

What do you think of the USMNT Olympic Dream Team? Who was left off the squad that you think should have been included? Which overage players would you choose?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. For a few players like Mendez, ledezma, gloster, EPB and there are some others I didn’t list could really hurt (even though their health is first priority). They all might be closer to significantly more first team mins next year or at different clubs next year if play resumes and wouldn’t be released anyway. Hopefully for everyone they can get this under control. But a big let down. Be safe everyone.

  2. Scott this is not qualifying for the USA youth national team U-23’s it is for the Olympics. You can only have a certain amount of players over 23. So it is not a full on out youth national team. Plus representing your country at the Olympics is an honor!

    • If you’re of age, representing your country in something like the Olympics doesn’t take a back seat because it’s not a senior tournament. We need to be trying to win any and everything to get some confidence back in the program, and the way you get back confidence is winning things that matter, which for our country has always meant more than typically other nations! Not only that but if the Olympic team would have gone forward and played, and made a great run to a medal, that could have done wonders for the senior team, especially considering that many predicted to go to Tokyo were considered to be potentially key players for the senior team if not now then a year from now!

      • Furthermore, I don’t think you can refer to a U-23 tournament, one that also allows for 3 overage players as a youth tournament…..80-90% of the field will be grown men out there bro!

      • Most national teams don’t let their top talent be wasted in youth teams. These players are too good for this age group. I could players that were injuried and un-active for a long time like Weah.

      • You’re wrong Scott, and if that were the case the likes of Neymar and Messi wouldnt have played in recent Olympic games. Again, a U-23 is not a youth tournament, since when are mostly 21-23y/o’s considered youth players? Furthermore, you referenced it being a “waste”, which on its face sounds ridiculous considering the Olympic Games are for 2 months and youre getting younger players(not youths)more experience on a global scale internationally

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