The 48-player list that makes up the preliminary roster for the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team’s Olympic qualifying squad features several names that would be welcome sights if they are actually allowed to take part in Olympic qualifying.
Brenden Aaronson, Konrad De La Fuente, Bryan Reynolds and Sebastian Soto are just some of the higher-profile European-based contingent of players included in Jason Kreis’ preliminary 48-player list for the Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament in March.
Kreis will have to cut down to 20 players for the tournament, which takes place in Mexico starting on March 18. The final roster isn’t limited to players from the preliminary list.
Clubs are not obligated to release players for Olympic qualifying, which is what makes the inclusion of so many European-based players somewhat surprising. MLS players are expected to be released for the qualifying tournament, which the MLS season not set to begin until April.
The inclusion of players such as Aaronson, De La Fuente and Reynolds suggests there is a possibility they could be allowed to take part in the Olympic qualifying tournament. Not all of the top age-eligible candidates were included on the preliminary list, with standouts such as Chris Richards, Mark McKenzie and Erik-Palmer Brown not on the list (USMNT stars such as Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Gio Reyna are age-eligible but were never expected to take part in Olympic qualifying, and will instead take part in the USMNT March friendlies).
U.S. Soccer has been working with foreign clubs to sort out availability, and some of that work could help pave the way for some top European-based prospects being part of Kreis’ setup. Here are some of the foreign-based players who could take part:
Konrad De La Fuente – hasn’t been featuring for Barcelona’s first team, and could therefore be made available.
Sebastian Soto – His recent USMNT call-ups helped him secure a UK work permit, which could lead Norwich City to return the favor by letting Soto play in Olympic qualifying.
Bryan Reynolds – Has yet to debut for AS Roma since his loan move, and could be allowed to take part in Olympic qualifying if he isn’t in Roma’s first-team plans yet.
Johnny Cardoso – The recent USMNT newcomer could see his club team (Brazilian powerhouse Internacional) season conclude in time for him to take part in Olympic qualifying.
Ulyssses Llanez Jr. – Llanez’s loan to Heerenveen has not gone well, and U.S. Soccer’s relationship with Wolfsburg — Llanez’s parent club — could pave the way for him to play in Olympic qualifying.
Another of the more interesting developments is the inclusion on the list of LA Galaxy midfielder Efrain Alvarez, who was also included on Mexico’s preliminary roster. Alvarez has represented Mexico in international competitions, and thus would require a one-time FIFA Change of Association in order to play for the United States. Under new FIFA regulations covering dual nationals, Alvarez would not be cap-tied to Mexico if he took part in Olympic qualifying.
Here is the full 48-player USMNT Olympic qualifying preliminary roster:
USMNT OLYMPIC QUALIFYING PRELIMINARY ROSTER
Drake Callender, Matt Freese, Jonathan Klinsmann, JT Marcinkowski, David Ochoa, Brady Scott
Julian Araujo, George Bello, Kyle Duncan, Marco Farfan, Justen Glad, Chris Gloster, Aaron Herrera, Aboubacar Keita, Henry Kessler, Mauricio Pineda, Donavan Pines, Bryan Reynolds, Miles Robinson, James Sands, Auston Trusty, Sam Vines
Brenden Aaronson, Efrain Alvarez, Frankie Amaya, Cole Bassett, Gianluca Busio, Caden Clark, Johnny Cardoso, Hassani Dotson, Brooks Lennon, Djordje Mihailovic, Keaton Parks, Andres Perea, Brandon Servania, Tanner Tessmann, Eryk Williamson, Jackson Yueill
Cade Cowell, Konrad De La Fuente, Jeremy Ebobisse, Jesus Ferreira, Jonathan Lewis, Ulysses Llanez Jr., Benji Michel, Ricardo Pepi, Sebastian Saucedo, Sebastian Soto