CHICAGO (Sept. 18, 2015) – U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Andi Herzog has named the 20-player roster that will compete in the 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, which will be played across the United States from Oct. 1-13. The USA will look to clinch a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The U.S. was drawn into Group A and opens with a pair of games at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, against Canada on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. CT and Cuba on Oct. 3 at 4 p.m. CT. The U-23’s will conclude group play at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on Oct. 6 against Panama at 7:30 p.m. MT.
“For us it was important that we find the right balance between attacking players and defensive-minded players,” Herzog said. “Because there are no FIFA dates for the first week of the tournament, there were challenges in getting players released. We had discussions with a lot of teams, and while some clubs didn’t release their players overall we received a lot of support, especially from MLS. There was a lot of competition for spots. Of course a few players will be disappointed that they didn’t make the roster and I understand, but we can only have 20 players on the roster and only17 field players, so they weren’t easy decisions. Now we have to be focused on the games and we have to win.”
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.
The U.S. enters the tournament having defeated Qatar in its final tune-up. In June, the team finished third at the renowned Toulon Tournament in France, defeating the Netherlands and England. The team is 6-4-0 in 2015, including a 3-0 win against Mexico in April.
The U.S. hopes to return to the Olympics for the first time since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where it posted a 1-1-1 record but did not advance past the group stage. The USA’s best showing in the Olympics came during the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, when the team defeated Japan in the quarterfinals and finished fourth in the event.
Roster By Position:
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.).
- Six players from this roster were a part of the U.S. U-20 World Cup squad that advanced to the quarterfinals in New Zealand: Cameron Carter-Vickers, Emerson Hyndman, Matt Miazga, Zack Steffen, Maki Tall and Gedion Zelalem.
- Eight players from this roster were a part of the U-23 team that finished in third place in the renowned Toulon Tournament in France in June, matching the best finish for the USA.
- Eleven players from this roster have ties to the Development Academy: Alashe (Vardar), Gil (Pateadores), Ethan Horvath (Real Colorado), Hyndman (FC Dallas), Miazga (New York Red Bulls Academy), Eric Miller (Minnesota Thunder Academy), Morris (Seattle Sounders Academy), Pelosi (De Anza Force), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids Academy), Steffen (Continental FC DELCO) and Wil Trapp (Crew SC Academy).
- Five players from this roster have scored goals for the U-23’s in 2015: Jordan Morris, Will Packwood, Gboly Ariyibi, Alonso Hernandez and Jerome Kiesewetter
- Two from the roster scored goals with the U-20’s in 2015: Emerson Hyndman and Maki Tall
- At just 17-years-old, Carter-Vickers is the youngest player on the roster.
- Eighteen-year-old Gedion Zelalem, who recently completed a loan move from Arsenal to Rangers, made his U.S. debut for the U-20’s in this summer’s World Cup
- The roster is a diverse mix with players coming from club teams of various leagues around the world. Eight players from this roster represent MLS clubs, four come from English teams, two from German clubs, a single player each from Mexico, Norway, Switzerland and Scotland, and one is unattached, while one plays in college.
- Alashe has scored a pair of goals in 23 starts with the San Jose Earthquakes this season, including one on Saturday, Sept. 12
- Ariyibi scored on a stunning volley in the 86th minute of the last game for the U-23’s, a 2-0 win against Qatar.
- Luis Gil leads the U-23’s with four assists in 2015.
- Miazga made his U-23 debut with the team in their match against England in September, starting and playing 90 minutes.
- Morris has also had a big role with the senior team in 2015. He scored for the MNT in their 2-0 win against Mexico in April, assisted on the game-winning goal against Netherlands and was a part of the play that led to the game winning goal against Germany in June.