For the first time in modern U.S. men’s soccer history (post-1950), the World Cup roster includes zero Olympians.
That’s not a surprise, given the U.S. last fielded an Olympic men’s soccer team in 2008.
But, the U.S. did qualify for the 2024 Paris Games, and every U.S. Olympic men’s soccer team in the last 30 years did include at least one player from the previous World Cup.
1990 World Cup players who made 1992 Barcelona Olympic team: Chris Henderson
1994 World Cup players who made 1996 Atlanta Olympic team: Alexi Lalas, Claudio Reyna, plus Kasey Keller from 1990 World Cup
1998 World Cup players who made 2000 Sydney Olympic team: Jeff Agoos, Brad Friedel, Frankie Hejduk
U.S. did not qualify for 2004 Athens Olympics.
2006 World Cup players who made 2008 Beijing Olympic team: Brian McBride
U.S. did not qualify for 2012, 2016, 2020 Olympics.
Olympic men’s soccer has largely been for players 23 years and younger in that span. Since 1996, teams have been allowed three over-age exceptions, which is how most of the World Cup players listed above made it back for the following Olympics.
For the 2024 Paris Games, Olympic men’s soccer rosters must be made up of players born on or after Jan. 1, 2001, with three over-age exceptions.
On the World Cup roster of 26 announced Wednesday, three players were born after Jan. 1, 2001: midfielder Yunus Musah, forward Gio Reyna and defender Joe Scally. All three could make the Olympic team of 18 without using any over-age exception.
(Had the U.S. qualified for the Tokyo Games, then 15 players on the 26-player World Cup roster would have been age eligible for those Games without using an over-age exception, and the entire expected U.S. starting XI at the World Cup could have been on a Tokyo Olympic team with exhausting those exceptions.)
If past rules remain, their club teams would have to release them to play in the Olympics, which could get tricky if there are separate senior international matches that summer for which clubs are forced to release players.
Looking beyond Musah, Reyna and Scally, every U.S. Olympic team in the over-age exception era has used one of those exceptions on a goalie with senior national team experience (Keller in 1996, Friedel in 2000 and Brad Guzan in 2008).
That makes the three goalies on the World Cup roster — Matt Turner, Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson — prime Olympic candidates, too, with the same club-release caveat for the aforementioned age-eligible players.
There’s also a chance that Gabriel Slonina, an 18-year-old prospect, is deemed the first-choice Olympic keeper, in which case there would be less incentive to use an over-age pick on a backup goalie.
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