Update: Argentina's FA released the 18-man roster and named a coach for their Olympic team Wednesday afternoon, making it appear more likely than not they will indeed participate in the Rio Olympics.
The Argentine soccer world has unraveled following their defeat to Chile in the Copa America Centenario final, and now it appears possible that US soccer – specifically the Under-23 national team – could benefit from the latest happenings in Buenos Aires.
"There is a 50% chance that Argentina does not field a men's soccer team in the Olympic Games," Argentina's National Olympic Committee head Gerardo Werthein told Argentina's Radio Mitre on Tuesday.
Should Argentina not send a team, Univision Deportes suggests that either the United States or Peru could replace them. The US would appear to be the next in line to replace Argentina after they lost to Colombia in the CONMEBOL-CONCACAF qualifying playoff for the final Olympic berth in March, though Peru, the next-best team in South American qualifying, could be the choice if the organizers opt for a team from the same region as Argentina.
According to the regulations for the 2016 Rio Olympic soccer tournament, the FIFA Organizing Committee for the Olympic Football Tournaments, which is appointed by FIFA's Executive Committee, has considerable leeway in deciding which team would replace one that cannot participate in the tournament:
If any Participating Member Association withdraws or is excluded from the competition, the FIFA Organising Committee shall decide on the matter at its sole discretion and take whatever action is deemed necessary. The FIFA Organising Committee may in particular decide to replace the association in question with another association.
For now, though, the US men are currently set to miss out on their second straight Olympic Games. They last qualified in 2008, and their best performance came in the 2000 tournament, when they reached the bronze medal game before falling to Chile.
The men's Olympic tournament is a 16-team tournament between U-23 squads, with each country allowed to include up to three overage players on their roster. Argentina were drawn into Group D of the tournament alongside Portugal, Algeria and Honduras, who defeated the US in the semifinals of CONCACAF Olympic qualifying.
Why is Argentina on the cusp of missing the Olympics? In the last two weeks, Argentina has seen star player Lionel Messi retire from international play while head coach Gerardo Martino and Argentine FA president Luis Segura, along with a number of other high-ranking officials, have resigned their posts. On the playing side, only 12 of the 18 players called to the squad for the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympics have been granted permission by their clubs to play in the tournament. Now the coach that called them is gone, and it is unclear who even has the authority to hire a replacement.