With Olympic qualifiers on the horizon U.S. MNT U23 coach Andy Herzog has named a 24 player squad to travel to England to face their host’s September 3 in Preston and Qatar on September 8 in Bury.
This is the final camp for the team prior to CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers in October, so players will want to impress Jurgen Klinsmann’s right hand man.
Herzog won’t have had access to the entire player pool, but he has still assembled a strong squad, with seven players making the jump from the 2015 U20 World Cup team.
The seven are Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga, the central defense pairing that did so well for Tab Ramos in New Zealand, midfield general Emerson Hyndman, Arsenal wonderkid Gedion Zelalem (recently loaned to Rangers), impressive Freiburg goalkeeper Zack Steffan, Utrecht striker Rubio Rubin, and Maki Tall.
The U20 defense duo will likely battle each other to start alongside Shane O’Neill in the center of the U.S. defense. O’Neill starred for Herzog at the U23 Toulon Tournament, and recently transferred from the Colorado Rapids to Apollon Limassol in Cyprus.
Midfielder Luis Gil continues to be called into U.S. teams despite a difficult season with Real Salt Lake. With the sell by date on his Next Big Thing status already a little behind him, Gil could use a convincing Olympics to reanimate his career.
Goalkeeper may be the most interesting position on this roster with Molde keeper Ethan Horvath making a strong bid to start over Cody Cropper (MK Dons) and Steffan. Steffan wowed at the U20 World Cup, while Cropper has held down the U23 job for some time.
But if club form matters then Horvath should have moved to the head of the class with his play for Molde in both the Tippeligaen and in the UEFA Champions League.
U.S. National Team coach and Technical Director Klinsmann has repeatedly emphasized the importance of qualifying for the Olympics, and in light of the recent U.S. failure at the Gold Cup, pressure will be squarely on Herzog to draw good performances from his squad with CONCACAF Qualifiers looming.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Cody Cropper (MK Dons; Maple Grove, Minn.), Ethan Horvath (Molde; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Zack Steffen (Freiburg; Downington, Pa.).
DEFENDERS (8): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur; Westcliff on Sea, England), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls; Clifton, N.J.), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact; Woodbury, Minn.), Boyd Okwuonu (Real Salt Lake; Edmund, Okla.), Shane O’Neill (Apollon Limassol; Boulder, Colo.), William Packwood (Unattached; Concord, Mass.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids; Brighton, Colo.), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif).
MIDFIELDERS (8): Gboly Ariyibi (Chesterfield; Arlington, Va.), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham; Dallas, Tex.), Benji Joya (Club Necaxa; San Jose, Calif.), Marc Pelosi (San Jose Earthquakes; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire; Milwaukee, Wisc.), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; Gahanna, Ohio), Gedion Zelalem (Rangers; Bethesda, Md.)
FORWARDS (5): Alonso Hernandez (C.D. Juarez; El Paso, Texas), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart; Berlin, Germany), Mario Rodriguez (Borussia Mönchengladbach; North Hollywood, Calif.), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht; Beaverton, Ore.), Maki Tall (Scion; Washington, D.C.).