Eye on Olympics: Pared-down U.S. men's squad puts heavy accent on youth

U.S. men's national team head coach Gregg Berhalter cut his squad down to 22 players for the trip from Florida to California to prepare for Saturday's friendly against Costa Rica at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.

The squad reflects the priority Berhalter will give for Olympic qualifying in March, the only FIFA window of the year that is reserved for friendly games.

Of the 19 field players in California, 13 are under-23 players eligible to take part in the Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament March 21-April in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The senior national team will play the Netherlands March 26 and Wales March 30 in Europe, but the U.S. under-23 national team opens Olympic qualifying on March 21 -- three days before the international window opens -- against Costa Rica.

In all, 26 players attended the first three weeks of the 2020 January camp at IMG Academy. The under-23 field players who will be training this week at Dignity Health Sports Park include five (of eight) defenders, five (of six) midfielders, and three (of five) forwards. Ten of the 13 under-23 field players will be looking for their first cap on Saturday.

Clubs are under no obligation to release players for an age-group competition like Olympic qualifying or the Olympics.

Paxton Pomykal departed early to continue his rehabilitation following offseason groin surgery while three players returned to their MLS clubs: JT Marcinkowski, the only U-23 goalkeeper in camp, to the San Jose Earthquakes and Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan to the Seattle Sounders, who are preparing for the start of their Concacaf Champions League campaign.

Gregg Berhalter: "It's been a good few weeks in Florida. The guys have worked hard and have made progress in all aspects of our game model. We'd like to thank Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes for their collaboration in releasing their players and wish them success at the start of their campaigns. We now turn our focus to preparing for Costa Rica and encouraging the players to take advantage of the opportunity and finish off the month with a positive result."

U.S. Roster:
Sean Johnson, 30 (New York City FC; 8/0)
Bill Hamid, 29 (D.C. United; 6/0)
Matt Turner, 25 (New England Revolution; 0/0)

*Julian Araujo, 18 (LA Galaxy; 0/0)
*Reggie Cannon, 21 (FC Dallas; 10/0)
Chase Gasper, 24 (Minnesota United; 0/0)
*Justen Glad, 22 (Real Salt Lake; 0/0)
Aaron Long, 27 (NY Red Bulls; 16/3)
*Mark McKenzie, 20 (Philadelphia Union; 0/0)
*Sam Vines, 20 (Colorado Rapids; 0/0)
Walker Zimmerman, 26 (LAFC; 11/2)

*Brenden Aaronson, 19 (Philadelphia Union; 0/0)
*Christian Cappis, 20 (Hobro/DEN; 0/0)
*Bryang Kayo, 17 (Unattached; 0/0)
Sebastian Lletget, 27 (LA Galaxy; 13/2)
*Brandon Servania, 20 (FC Dallas; 0/0)
*Jackson Yueill, 22 (San Jose Earthquakes; 6/0)

Paul Arriola, 32 (D.C. United; 32/5)
*Jesus Ferreira, 19 (FC Dallas; 0/0)
*Jonathan Lewis, 22 (Colorado Rapids; 5/0)
*Ulysses Llanez, 18 (Wolfsburg/GER; 0/0)
Gyasi Zardes, 28 (Columbus Crew; 55/12)
*Eligible for U.S. U-23 national team.
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