USMNT submit provisional roster for Olympic qualifying

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The USMNT have submitted their provisional roster for Olympic qualifying next month, and it is absolutely stacked with young U.S. talent.

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Jason Kreis has named a 50-man provisional roster which will be cut down to 20 players 10 days before the tournament begins. Players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible to compete in the tournament, which is essentially a under 24 tournament.

Brenden Aaronson, Ulysses Llanez, Konrad de la Fuente and Bryan Reynolds are some of the big name players included on the USMNT roster.

One major note: LA Galaxy star Efrain Alvarez, 18, has been named in the preliminary rosters of both the USMNT and Mexico, as he still hasn’t selected who he wants to represent at international level. Alvarez represented Mexico at the U17 World Cup in 2019 and would have to perform a one-time switch to the USMNT.

Due to the tournament taking place just before the FIFA international window, it will be intriguing to see which players are released by their club teams, especially those playing in Europe.

The tournament takes place in Mexico on Mar. 18-30, and you won’t need reminding that the USMNT have failed to qualify for the last two Olympics.

For this tournament, the USMNT have been drawn in Group A alongside Mexico, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. Group B includes Canada, El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras.

The top two teams from each group will qualify for the semifinals and the two teams who reach the final will qualify for the final tournament at the Tokyo Olympics which runs from July 21 to August 7 in 2021.


USMNT preliminary squad for Olympic qualifying – Full squad lists, here


CONCACAF Olympic qualifying

How to watch: Watch live on the CONCACAF app
Dates: March 18-30
News and updates: online via ProSoccerTalk


CONCACAF 2020 Olympic qualifying schedule 

Group Stage

Thursday, March 18 – Jalisco Stadium
17:00/15:00 USA vs Costa Rica
19:30/17:30 Mexico vs Dominican Republic

Friday, March 19 – Jalisco Stadium
15:30/13:30 Honduras vs Haiti
18:00/16:00 Canada vs El Salvador

Sunday, March 21 – Akron Stadium 
19:00/17:00 Dominican Republic vs USA
21:30/19:30 Costa Rica vs Mexico

Monday, March 22 – Akron Stadium
18:00/16:00 Haiti vs Canada
20:30/18:30 El Salvador vs Honduras

Wednesday, March 24 – Jalisco Stadium
19:00/17:00 Costa Rica vs Dominican Republic
21:30/19:30 Mexico vs USA

Thursday, March 25 – Jalisco Stadium
19:00/17:00 El Salvador vs Haiti
21:30/19:30 Honduras vs Canada

Semifinals

Sunday, March 28 – Jalisco Stadium
18:00/16:00 1B vs 2A
21:00/19:00 1A vs 2B

Final

Tuesday, March 30 – Akron Stadium
21:00/19:00 Winner Semifinal 1 vs Winner Semifinal 2

USMNT, Northern Ireland announce March international friendly

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The United States men’s national team will keep a spring friendly close to its European-heavy best roster when Gregg Berhalter’s men meet Northern Ireland in Belfast on March 28.

The Norn Iron will play in between UEFA World Cup qualifiers while the USMNT continues to ready for the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals, 2021 Gold Cup, and CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

It’s always interesting to see how a match announcement is framed by the opposition, and Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough calls the USMNT a “growing nation.”

“It’s a shame we can’t get a bouncing, fervent national statement at Windsor Park,” Baraclough said (video above). “[MLS is} a league that’s growing, as we know, with high-profile players within the game are going there, moreso with David Beckham taking Inter Miami as a team. … The Americans feel they are a growing nation and will be a power for years to come. A strong USA team in football will be important.”

Berhalter issued the following quote via a U.S. Soccer press release:

“This is a good opportunity to work with our full group before the Nations League Final Four in June,” Berhalter said. “We’ve been excited about the progress our players continue to make with their clubs, and now we have another chance to strengthen our group ahead of the start of World Cup qualifying later this year. Northern Ireland is a very competitive team and brings a different set of challenges in the way they play. We look forward to a great experience.”

Northern Ireland is led by steady Premier League experience including Leicester City’s Jonny Evans and longtime Southampton man Steven Davis. Newcastle’s Jamal Lewis, Leeds’ Stuart Dallas, and Man United teen prospect Ethan Galbraith are also eyebrow-raising names.

They captured some imaginations at EURO 2016 when goalkeeper Michael McGovern’s heroics helped the team into the Round of 16, surging as high as a program-best 20th in the FIFA rankings under Michael O’Neill (now at Championship side Stoke City). They lost to Switzerland in the 2018 World Cup qualifying playoffs.

Ranking which U.S. cities should host 2026 World Cup

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The 2026 World Cup is still a long way out but that doesn’t mean 17 cities across the United States of America aren’t battling it out to host games.

Let the final battle begin, as we now know the 10 host cities in the USA will be announced at the end of 2021.

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FIFA released a statement with an updated timeline and agenda for the selection process, with site visits planned to take place this year to the 17 cities vying to host games.

It is hoped that the 10 U.S. venues which will host World Cup games will then be announced late in 2021, as three venues will be selected in both Canada (Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal) and Mexico (Guadalajara, Monterrey and Mexico City) with 16 stadiums overall picked by FIFA, who have the final say for where games will be held in the tournament.

The 2026 World Cup will be the largest in history with 80 games played overall, 60 of which will be in the USA and the entire tournament from the quarterfinal stage onwards will be in the U.S.

Here’s the latest update:

  • FIFA and the host associations will organize virtual one-on-one meetings with each stadium to discuss infrastructural aspects from the end of February 2021 onwards.
  • From April 2021, FIFA and the host associations will launch targeted virtual discussions with each candidate host city.
  • Bearing in mind the constantly changing circumstances with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, FIFA and the host associations are aiming to start the venue visits in the candidate host cities at the beginning of July 2021.
  • FIFA said in a statement: “The visits will only take place if the health and safety situation in the host countries allows FIFA to do so. Realizing the commercial potential of each venue, as well as in terms of sustainability, human rights and event legacy, is of the utmost importance.”

This has got us thinking: How have things moved on for potential host cities since the announcement in 2018 that the U.S., Mexico and Canada would be hosting the expanded 48-team tournament?

Below we rank the 17 venues vying for the 10 host stadium spots in the U.S., and share our thoughts on who we think deserves to have 2026 World Cup games.


Ranking potential 2026 World Cup venues

Host cities

1. New York/New Jersey
2. Los Angeles (Rose Bowl Stadium or new Inglewood NFL stadium)
3. Washington, D.C.
4. Miami
5. Seattle
6. Atlanta
7. San Francisco/Bay Area
8. Dallas
9. Boston
10. Denver

Missing out
11. Philadelphia
12. Kansas City
13. Houston
14. Nashville
15. Orlando
16. Baltimore
17. Cincinnati


Analysis

The first six cities on this list pick themselves. New York, LA, Washington D.C., Miami and Seattle are all cities entrenched with rich soccer culture and they are spread in all four corners of the U.S. But then it starts to get tricky, Atlanta has jumped to the top of the list due to the success of Atlanta United in MLS, while logistically it makes sense to have games in the Bay Area, Dallas and Denver to link up the west coast and midwest respectively, while Boston’s rich sporting heritage has to be factored in. The likes of Baltimore, Cincinnati and Nashville seem like outsiders and even Orlando can be put in that category as Miami will likely get the nod in Florida. So that leaves Houston, Philly and Kansas City as the three cities who could be interchangeable with Denver, Dallas and Boston, depending on how their site visits shake out. Remember: the location of venues as well as transport, hotels and other local infrastructure all plays a big part in picking host cities. Tens of thousands of extra fans will flock to the city where the game is being played without tickets just to be there.

It is so tough to whittle down this list to just 10 because we all know the U.S. is able to host the World Cup on its own and the fact that three cities are expected to host games from both Mexico and Canada makes the competition for stadiums in the USA even stronger. With neither Chicago (who pulled out of the bidding due to concerns for their taxpayers after FIFA didn’t negotiate) or Vancouver currently in the running as host cities as they missed the initial deadline for host cities to bid, it is worth nothing that FIFA has the final say. Either way, the site visits in 2021 will be very interesting, if they happen at all, as cities across the U.S. roll out the red carpet for U.S. Soccer as they try and get a slice of the action as the biggest party on the planet comes to the USA in 2026.

FIFA sets late-2021 target to pick 2026 World Cup cities

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ZURICH — FIFA set a new target Tuesday of finalizing North American host cities for the 2026 World Cup – if the coronavirus pandemic allows.

The 23 candidate cities likely need to be cut to 16. FIFA said it could confirm them at the end of the the year.

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The pre-pandemic schedule called for cities hosting the first 48-team World Cup – likely 10 in the United States and three each in Canada and Mexico – to be picked early this year. The new deadline will depend on FIFA officials being able to take inspection trips to 17 cities in the United States and three each in Canada and Mexico.

“The visits will only take place if the health and safety situation in the host countries allows FIFA to do so,” the governing body said in a statement.

Most of the venues in the United States will be NFL stadiums, with the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets expected to host the final on July 12, 2026.

“Realizing the commercial potential of each venue, as well as in terms of sustainability, human rights and event legacy, is of the utmost importance,” FIFA said.

The first World Cup with 48 teams will have 80 games instead of the current 64.

The proposal was to play 60 games in the United States and 10 each in Canada and Mexico when the bid contest was won in 2018.

USMNT to play Trinidad and Tobago on Jan. 31 in Orlando

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CHICAGO — The U.S. men’s soccer team will open its 2021 schedule with an exhibition against Trinidad and Tobago on Jan. 31 at Orlando, Florida.

A roster missing all Europe-based regulars has been working out in preparation for the match, which is not on a FIFA international match date. Fans will be required to wear face coverings to attend the game, the U.S. Soccer Federation said Wednesday, and there will be at least 6 feet of space between each group of fans in the stands.

The U.S. expects to have most of its regular starters available for a pair of exhibitions being planned in Europe for March 22-30.

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The Americans return to competitive matches when they play Honduras in a CONCACAF Nations League semifinal from May 31 to June 8. The winner plays Mexico or Costa Rica in the championship a few days later.

The U.S. is likely to use a less-than-full-strength roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup that starts in early July, in which the Americans have group stage matches against Canada, Martinique and either Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Guatemala or Guyana.

The U.S. starts World Cup qualifying with three matches from Aug. 30 to Sept. 7, three from Oct. 4-13 and two from Nov. 8-17.

The Americans likely will open at Trinidad and Tobago or El Salvador, then probably host Canada or Haiti, then play at Honduras.

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October will include a home match against Jamaica, and probably a match at Panama or Guatemala, followed by a home game against Costa Rica.

November includes a home game against Mexico and a road match at Jamaica.

NOTES: LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo was added to the U.S. under-23 team roster training in Bradenton, Florida, in place of Dallas defender Bryan Reynolds, who plans to leave camp for personal reasons. Araujo, 19, made his senior national team debut last month against El Salvador. The U23s are preparing for Olympic qualifying in March.