Andi Herzog released his CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship roster today and the U23 coach has included six of the recent U20 World Cup side on the 20 man U.S. roster.
Herzog has named Stanford’s Jordan Morris to the squad, but was apparently unable to pry fellow striker Rubio Rubin away from FC Utrecht, his club team in the Netherlands.
The tournament runs from October 1 -13 and because the first week of the event takes place during a non- FIFA break, club teams are not required to release players to their national teams.
Herzog also faces the possibility of losing Morris to the full U.S. national team, with Jurgen Klinsmann expected to call Morris in for the crucial CONCACAF Cup match versus Mexico on October 10.
That only increases the pressure on Herzog, considered Klinsmann’s right hand man and also an assistant coach on the full national team.
Following the team’s failure to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, Klinsmann has targeted Olympic Qualification as an important goal for the American program, often pointing to that failure as a setback for U.S. players in that age group.
Coming so soon after the U.S. flop in the Gold Cup, it would surely be seen as a strike against Klinsmann and his program if the U.S. were to miss out on the games next summer in Rio.
Herzog recently lost his starting goalkeeper when Cody Cropper was injured, but as is often the case the Yanks are deep at the goalkeeper position. U20 star Zack Steffan and Molde Champions League and Europa League starter Ethan Horvath will battle for the number one spot and either should be well up to the task.
Center back Shane O’Neill, a recent transfer from Colorado Rapids to Belgian club Royal Mouscron-Peruwelz, is not in this group, likely he was not made available by his new club. Still U20 pair Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers are a good duo and the U.S should be solid at the back .
The midfield looks strong with Emerson Hyndman, Luis Gil and Gedion Zelalem among the selections, but the forwards could be weak, especially if Morris is called away by Klinsmann.
The U.S. open Group A play versus Canada on October 1, before meeting Cuba on the the 3rd. Those two games are to be played in Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, before the U.S. move on to Colorado to play Panama on October 6 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Defending Olympic Champions Mexico lead Group B, with Costa Rica, Haiti and Honduras filling out the group. Defending Olympic gold medalists Mexico are joined in Group B by Costa Rica, Haiti and Honduras.
The top two teams from each group will advance to the tournament semifinals. Winners of the semifinal games will advance to the finals and clinch spots in the Olympics. The winner of the third-place game will qualify for a one-game playoff against Colombia in the final opportunity for an Olympic spot.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Charlie Horton (Leeds; Cleveland Ohio), Ethan Horvath (Molde; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Zack Steffen (Freiburg; Downington, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (5): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur; Westcliff on Sea, England), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls; Clifton, N.J.), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact; Woodbury, Minn.), William Packwood (Unattached; Concord, Mass.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids; Brighton, Colo.)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes; Northville, Mich.), Gboly Ariyibi (Chesterfield; Arlington, Va.), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham; Dallas, Texas), Marc Pelosi (San Jose Earthquakes; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire; Milwaukee, Wis.), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; Gahanna, Ohio), Gedion Zelalem (Rangers; Bethesda, Md.)
FORWARDS (4): Alonso Hernandez (C.D. Juarez; El Paso, Texas), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart; Berlin, Germany), Jordan Morris (Stanford; Mercer Island, Wash.), Maki Tall (FC Sion; Washington, D.C.)