US men's soccer opens Olympic qualifying March 18 in Mexico

·1 min read

MIAMI — The United States under-24 team will open men’s Olympic soccer qualifying against Costa Rica on March 18 at the CONCACAF tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The revised schedule announced Friday by the Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Football represents roughly a one-year postponement from the original tournament, delayed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S., which failed to qualify for the 2012 and 2016 men’s Olympic soccer tournaments, plays the Dominican Republic on March 21 and completes Group A on March 24 against host Mexico.

Group B includes Canada, Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador.

The top two teams in each group advance to the semifinals, which will be played March 28, and the semifinal winners qualify for the Tokyo Games. The semifinal winners meet in the qualifying tournament championship on March 30.

Clubs are not required to release players for the tournament, which means the U.S. is likely to be without Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Gio Reyna and Josh Sargent.

Because of the delayed cause by the pandemic, FIFA kept the kept the restriction that players must be born Jan. 1, 1997, or later, making this a tournament for under-24 teams rather than under-23 teams.

For the 16 nations reaching the Olympics, each include three players over the age limit. The CONCACAF qualifiers will join Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Egypt, France, Germany, Ivory Coast, Japan, New Zealand, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Spain.

__

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Associated Press