The United States will embark on the final journey to Rio as the U-23 team begins Olympic qualification on October 1.
With the opening match against Canada less than two weeks away, U.S. Soccer has announced its final roster for the qualification round, and while the group is a promising bunch, there are a few key omissions. It’s unclear why a number of these players were left off, although the possibility remains that they were not released by their club and therefore were unable to attend.
Goalkeeper Zach Steffan, who impressed many at the U-20 World Cup earlier this summer in New Zealand, is the highlight of the shot-stoppers and will likely start unless Molde goalkeeper Ethan Horvath gets the nod. One name not on the list is the incumbent Cody Cropper, who has recently completed a summer transfer to English Championship side MK Dons, but is shelved after undergoing knee surgery in mid-September.
Along the back line, another pair of young men who were stellar in New Zealand anchor as New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga and Tottenham Hotspur youngster Cameron Carter-Vickers stand out among those named. Will Packwood gets the call despite not being attached to a club after his release from Birmingham City this summer. A pair of MLS defenders round out the list in Eric Miller of Montreal and Dillon Serna of Colorado. Shane O’Neill of Belgium’s Royal Mouscron-Peruwelz was left off.
In the midfield, Fulham’s Emerson Hyndman and Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem (on loan at Rangers) pop off the list, but the big name missing is Tijuana youngster Paul Arriola. Columbus star Wil Trapp makes the list and will be instrumental in locking down the middle of the park.
Up front is the most intriguing. Jordan Morris makes the cut despite also being named on the senior preliminary squad for the one-game playoff against Mexico during that time, and Maki Tall, who has risen in notoriety in recent months since scoring a goal for the U-20 side in New Zealand before promptly breaking his toe. Unfortunately, missing from the list is both Rubio Rubin and Julian Green. Speculation about Green’s abilities and club situation remain abound, but with little clues on Rubin, it is easiest to assume he wasn’t released by his Eredivisie club FC Utrecht.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Charlie Horton (Leeds), Ethan Horvath (Molde), Zack Steffen (Freiburg).
DEFENDERS (5): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact), William Packwood (Unattached), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes), Gboly Ariyibi (Chesterfield), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Marc Pelosi (San Jose Earthquakes), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Gedion Zelalem (Rangers).
FORWARDS (4): Alonso Hernandez (C.D. Juarez), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Maki Tall (FC Sion).