The Under-23 U.S. Men’s National Team has not yet qualified for this year’s Olympics, but if it does then both Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah would be happy to participate in them.
Pulisic and Musah each expressed their willingness to play in the summer games on Wednesday afternoon. The young duo is currently with the senior U.S. Men’s National Team ahead of a pair of European-based friendlies, but both players stated they would be open to play for the U-23 side should that team qualify this week for the upcoming international tournament in Tokyo, Japan.
In fact, there is a real desire in Pulisic’s case to do so.
“I think the Olympics is something that is of course a massive honor, (and) to play and to represent your country in an Olympics would be amazing.” said Pulisic. “I am fully supporting the guys in qualifying. It is something I have thought about and I have wanted to play in. Obviously I cannot control exactly what goes on and what is best for me at the time and what is best for the team at the time, but it is something that I would like to play in.”
Musah, meanwhile, stated he would be willing to take part in the competition if that was what was asked of him.
“I am just trying to do my best for the U.S. whenever I am required to do so,” said Musah, who recently committed his international future to the USMNT. “If that is the Olympics, too, then I will be more than happy to play and be involved in it.”
While both the 22-year-old Pulisic and 18-year-old Musah are both age eligible, neither might be able to play in the summer games even if the U-23 side qualifies. Clubs are not required to release players for the competition, meaning that Chelsea and Valencia are under no obligation to let their young talents go play in the Olympics later this year.
Making things even more difficult is the senior USMNT’s loaded schedule, which includes Concacaf Nations League matches in June, the Concacaf Gold Cup in July, and several World Cup Qualifiers in the fall.
“It is an uphill battle that we are fighting,” said senior USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter. “If we were in a perfect world, there is nothing more I would like than to see our best group compete in the Olympics. It would be amazing.
“I am just not sure that is going to happen. I am not sure the clubs are going to allow the players to go.”
It will all be a moot point if the U-23 USMNT does not reach the tournament. The youth side has already secured a spot in one of the decisive semifinal matches in the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying campaign currently being played in Mexico, but the Americans have to win their game this Sunday vs. an opponent that is still to be determined to ensure qualification.
The U-23 USMNT has not reached the Olympics since 2008.