The United States men’s national team has one of its youngest rosters in program history in Europe this week for matches against Wales and Panama.
It’s no coincidence that USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has U.S. men’s Olympic coach Jason Kreis with him as an assistant on this international break in the club schedule.
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Kreis is trying to put the United States U-23 men in the Olympics for the first time since 2008 after Caleb Porter (2012) and Andi Herzog (2016) failed to get the team to the Summer Games.
Hopes are very high and failure would be shocking as the U.S. has a monstrously deep pool of players that has actually increased in depth as the Olympic Committee ruled that the delay of the tournament has essentially made it a U-24 tournament.
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While there’s no guarantee the nation’s best players will be released by their clubs for the final stage of qualifying, the pool of U-24 players includes stars like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Giovanni Reyna.
Kreis expressed the challenges of knowing whether he’ll have access to the nation’s best Olympic-eligible talents — and even the next generation or level of players like Brenden Aaronson and Richie Ledezma — in an interview with American Soccer Now this week.
“That’s of course one of the major difficulties for us, trying to project who will be available and who will not be available,” Kreis said. “That is always going to be a major concept so we have to evaluate how every player would look on our team. … I don’t know whether or not PSV would qualify [Ledezma] yet as a first team player yet. … It could be a situation with him on the timing of the matter and the depth of their first team squad, it could make a player like him available. We have to have a full comprehension of what the total pool looks like.”
Our ProSoccerTalk Unfiltered crew of Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards, and Nick Mendola discussed the possibilities for the Olympics in Tokyo, as well as this national team camp and the status of the program.