The US and Canadian Under-23 men's national teams got their assignments for 2020 Concacaf Olympic qualifying on Thursday night, and it’s no easy task – for the United States in particular.
Coach Jason Kreis and the US U-23s were drawn into a daunting Group A along with Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Mexico for the Concacaf Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship, which takes place in Guadalajara, Mexico this March.
The US will open on March 20 vs. Costa Rica, face Dominican Republic on March 23 and wrap up the group stage against hosts Mexico on March 26. Kreis & Co. are aiming to break a decade-long drought in Olympic participation, having failed to qualify since Beijing 2008.
Meanwhile Canada were drawn into Group B alongside El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras. Mauro Biello and Les Rouges open vs. El Salvador on March 21, then meet Haiti on March 24 and Honduras on March 27. They too have long been absent from the Olympics, dating back to Los Angeles 1984.
The top two finishers in the group advance to the tournament’s semifinals, with the two winners of those semis booking the region’s two spots at the Tokyo Summer Games while also contesting the qualifying tournament’s final on April 1. Mexico are the defending Concacaf U-23 champions (pictured above).
Eight of 16 teams have already qualified for the Olympic men’s soccer event: Hosts Japan are in automatically, Egypt, Ivory Coast and South Africa finished tops at the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Egypt.
France, Germany, Romania and Spain are in via their finishes at the 2019 UEFA U-21 Championship in Italy and San Marino and New Zealand booked Oceania’s ticket at the 2019 OFC Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Fiji. The 2020 Asian U-23 tournament kicked off this week and the 2020 CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic event unfolds later this month.
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador