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Pulisic, Musah express willingness to represent USMNT at Olympics

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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.

Comments

  1. While I totally agree Olympics Men’s Soccer is a second or even third rate tournament purely from a soccer perspective, there’s other factors that should be considered. As a whole, the entire Olympics is anything but a second rate event in the US. Americans tend to watch and follow sports that they otherwise completely ignore when the Olympics aren’t on.

    So how should we handle splitting our eligible players up between the overlapping Olympics and the Gold Cup this summer (assuming we win Sunday of course)? There’s a lot of factors to consider. First, even though the Gold Cup is big deal in CONCACAF, honestly even among those of us who follow it, it’s not that big of a deal. But it’s probably bigger than soccer at the Olympics. If we stack our Olympics team with our best U23s they should have a good chance of going deep in that tournament, maybe even winning it. This could be cause for a lot of excitement in the US and could significantly raise interest in both the USMNT and some of our players could become well marketed heroes. So maybe it helps in a big picture way even many years down the road.

    If we do well or even win the Gold Cup, how much will the casual US soccer fan or the non-soccer fan care? Little or nothing is the answer. But, we have WC qualifiers coming up right after these tournaments in August, so there’s a strong argument to be made to keep our “A Team” together to give them as much time playing together as possible to make sure we get off on the right foot in WC qualifying which everyone agrees is by far the top priority. So splitting the talent between the Gold Cup and Olympics may be a bad idea.

    I think the current thinking is to bring the A Team to the Gold Cup and let the also rans play in Tokyo, but if the likes of Pulisic and Musah and maybe others want to go to Tokyo, what does the USMNT do?

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  2. I’ve always hated the way the Olympics soccer is handled. The dumb rules changes between qualification and the actual Olympic games…the different handling between the women & men’s format/rules. It all bugs the crap out of me.
    For those who want to see what the best US Olympic squad would be, just have to wait 14 months after the Olympics and you’ll see it in the FIFA WC.

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  3. Until FIFA requires clubs to release players for the Olympics, it will always be a second rate tournament. Unless you have a free transfer, odds are your club will block you from playing in the Olympics.

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    • And FIFA will not because it doesn’t want to allow the quadrennial Olympics to compete in significance with FIFA’s quadrennial World Cup. The reason the first World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930 was to honor that country’s dominance in international football because it was the two time gold medalist (24 and 28).

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