Head coach Jason Kreis called up 31 players for the U.S. under-23 men’s national team camp in Guadalajara, Mexico, ahead of the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, which begins March 18 against Costa Rica.
The players were picked from a non-binding provisional list of 48 players.
Three players Kreis called in have not been released, however. For the second year in a row, Atlanta United would not release its players. Three were called into the 2021 camp: Miles Robinson, George Bello and Brooks Lennon.
If they played in the qualifying tournament and stayed through the end, COVID-19 protocols that would have not allowed them to play Atlanta United in its Concacaf Champions League opener on April 6 in Costa Rica. The all-important Olympic qualifying semifinals are scheduled for March 28 in Guadalajara.
Robinson is the most experienced center back Kreis has available. Bello and Lennon would not be considered locks to have made the 20-player tournament roster to be announced later in March, but Kreis said all three players "were going to be big, big players for us this qualification process."
“Atlanta wanted to keep the players because they’re in Concacaf Champions League," he said. "There were also concerns of COVID stuff, so we thought we had moved to a solution that was going to work, and over the weekend we found out that Atlanta ultimately decided to not make those players available to us. So unfortunate situation for us, unfortunate situation for the players, but ultimately, as a former MLS coach I think we have to respect their decision.”
(Teams -- including MLS teams -- are not required to release players for the Olympics or Olympic qualifying since it is not considered an age-group tournament.)
Efrain Alvarez, who was named on the U.S.and Mexico provisional rosters, is not with the USA. He would have needed to have a change of association approved by FIFA to play in the qualifying tournament for the USA. Kreis said the LA Galaxy forward has not made a decision about his international future.
“He’s decided that he wasn’t ready to [commit] to one team or another, which puts us in a very hopeful position," he said. "Again, we continue to let Efrain know that we support him, that we would like him to be a part of the U.S. men’s national team programs. But ultimately we understand that this is a very personal and deep decision. We want to respect that. Teams -- including MLS teams -- are not required to release players for the Olympics or Olympic qualifying since it is not considered an age-group tournament.
Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union, 20)
Jonathan Klinsmann (LA Galaxy, 23)
JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes, 23)
David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake, 22)
Also on provisional roster: Drake Callender (Inter Miami), Brady Scott (Austin FC)
2020 qualifying roster: Freese, Marcinkowski, Ochoa.
Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy, 19), 1 cap
Marco Farfan (LAFC, 22), 1 cap
Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake, 24)
Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake, 23), 1 cap
Henry Kessler (New England Revolution, 22)
Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire, 23)
Auston Trusty (Colorado Rapids, 22)
Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids, 21), 3 caps
Called up but not released: George Bello (Atlanta United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United).
Also on provisional roster: Kyle Duncan (NY Red Bulls), Chris Gloster (PSV, Netherlands), Aboubacar Keita (Columbus Crew), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Bryan Reynolds (Roma, Italy)
2020 qualifying roster: Reggie Cannon, Glad, Gloster, Herrera, Mark McKenzie, Erik Palmer-Brown.
Frankie Amaya (FC Cincinnati, 20)
Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids, 19)
Johnny Cardoso (Internacional, Brazil, 19), 2 caps
Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United, 23)
Andres Perea (Orlando City, 20), 1 cap
Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas, 19), 1 cap
Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers, 23)
Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes, 23), 9 caps
Also on provisional roster: Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria), Gianluca Busio (Sporting KC), Caden Clark (New York Red Bulls), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Keaton Parks (NYCFC), James Sands (NYCFC), Brandon Servania (St. Poelten, Austria).
2020 qualifying roster: Aaronson, Dotson, Richy Ledezma, Paxton Pomykal, Yueill.
Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas, 20), 2 caps, 2 goals
Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids, 23), 7 caps, 2 goals
Uly Llanez (Heerenveen, Netherlands, 19), 3 caps, 1 goal
Benji Michel (Orlando City, 23)
Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal, 22), 6 caps, 1 goal
Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas, 18)
Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM, Mexico, 24)
Sebastian Soto (Norwich City, England, 20), 2 caps, 2 goals
Called up but not released: Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United).
Also on provisional roster: *Efrain Alvarez (LA Galaxy), Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona, Spain), Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers).
2020 qualifying roster: Ebobisse, Ferreira, Lewis, Llanez, Mihailovic, Saucedo.
*Requires change of association to play for USA.