On March 20, u23 head coach Caleb Porter named his final roster for the Olympic qualifying tournament. That roster is mostly the same as the one released on March 12. On March 13, Porter added Tony Taylor to replace the injured Dilly Duka. FK Molde recalled American speedster Josh Gatt due to a number of injuries at the club. Because Olympic qualifying is not an official tournament during a FIFA window, clubs don’t have to release their players and do so on a voluntary basis. Gatt was listed as a right back in the squad so replacement options considered by supporters included 20 year old Club Tijuana defender Greg Garza and 22 year old Philadelphia Union defender Sheanon Williams. In the end it was Williams who got the call and he joins the other 19 Americans in Nashville.
18 year old Birmingham City defender Will Packwood was also mentioned, but Jurgen Klinsmann has spoken out discouraging players skipping ahead in their development (Packwood would be available for the next Olympic cycle). Royal-Dominique Fennell is a 22 year old with Stuttgart who has been called up in the past and is starting to blend into the first team at his German club. There had also been a few calls for Houston Dyanamo academy player and Duke University defender Sebastien Ibeagha, but the 19 year old does not have enough quality experience to add anything to the team.
The roster as it stands now:
GK, 2- Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
D, 6- Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo), Jorge Villafaña (Chivas USA), Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia Union)
M, 6- Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Mix Diskerud (Gent, on loan from Stabæk), Michael Stephens (Los Angeles Galaxy), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz)
F, 6- Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Tony Taylor (Estoril Praia)
The squad now includes 14 MLS players, including all goalkeepers and defenders. In the last month the u23 team has gone 4-0 which includes wins against FC Dallas (2-1), NASL side San Antonio Scorpions (3-0), the Mexican u23 team (2-0), and on Sunday a 3-0 result against the Atlanta Silverbacks of NASL. Mexico is a likely match-up in the semifinals if both teams make it out of their respective groups.
The United States begins group play on Thursday night at 8PM against Cuba. This is followed by a match against Canada at 6PM on Saturday. The final match of the group stage is against El Salvador on Monday night at 8PM. All of the U.S. games will take place in Nashville Tennessee and will be shown on Telemundo-2 and Universal Sports Network, as well as streamed on concacaf.com.
If the U.S. gets results against its group opponents, it will likely face either Mexico or Honduras in a semifinal matchup. Both semifinal winners will advance to the Olympic Tournament in London during the summer. In London, the full u23 team (Jozy Altidore, Timmy Chandler and Danny Williams) can be joined by 3 overage players which may include Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan or Michael Bradley. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.