U.S. men’s soccer team’s Olympic hopes rest on one match

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The U.S. men’s soccer team will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics if it wins a match next Sunday.

If it loses, it will miss a third consecutive Olympics for the first time in more than 50 years.

The American under-23 team won its first two matches in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament in Mexico to clinch a spot in the semifinals in seven days.

CONCACAF gets two spots in the Olympic men’s soccer tournament. Each semifinal winner qualifies.

The U.S., after beating Costa Rica 1-0 on Thursday and the Dominican Republic 4-0 on Sunday, finishes its group schedule against Mexico on Wednesday. That match is purely for semifinal seeding purposes.

In the crucial semifinal, the U.S. will likely play Canada or Honduras for a place in Tokyo.

The Americans, who last played in the Olympics in 2008, lost to Canada in the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament. Then they lost to Honduras in the 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament.

This team, coached by Jason Kreis, lacks the best players such as Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Juventus’ Weston McKennie and Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna, who all also happen to be young enough for the U-23 Olympic roster without using any of the three over-age exceptions.

Club teams are not required to release players for Olympic qualifying or the Olympics. Even if released, U.S. Soccer may prefer to put some or all of its best players in the Gold Cup rather than the Tokyo Games.

The last time the U.S. didn’t play in three consecutive Olympic men’s soccer tournaments was 1960, 1964 and 1968.

U.S. Olympic men’s soccer qualifying roster

Goalkeepers
Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union)
JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders
Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy)
Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake)
Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake)
Henry Kessler (New England Revolution)
Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire FC)
Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

Midfielders
Johnny Cardoso (Internacional)
Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United FC)
Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal)
Andrés Perea (Orlando City SC)
Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas)
Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas)
Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards

Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas)
Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids)
Benji Michel (Orlando City SC)
Sebastian Soto (Norwich City)

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