With the US national team facing two high-profile European friendlies in the March international while the U-23 squad aims at qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokoyo, manager Gregg Berhalter and his staff have a difficult balance to juggle
Speaking with Tony Meola of SiriusXM FC this week, Berhalter revealed that the USMNT's priority over that stretch will be reaching the Olympics for the first time since 2008, at least in terms of players who are likely to be released for the Concacaf qualifying tournament.
Making the 2020 Olympics is vital for @ussoccer!— SiriusXM FC 157 ⚽️📻 (@SiriusXMFC) January 24, 2020
🇺🇸 @USMNT Manager Gregg Berhalter, tells @TMeola1 & @BrianDunseth exactly how they will handle qualifying.
Full interview ➡️https://t.co/6V6W4hS6IC pic.twitter.com/N7tnvFoRSw
"I think it's going to be very challenging to get players like Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie released for qualifying because it falls outside the current FIFA window," Berhalter said. "But players who have been mainstays for the US national team like Jackson Yueill and Reggie Cannon, we're going to want them to go through that qualifying process and help the team qualify.
"It's an important event to participate in, and we want to qualify."
The US have a difficult road if they are to return to the tournament where they last finished ninth at the 2008 games. They begin the Concacaf qualifying tournament in a group with Mexico, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, with the top two finishers reaching the semifinals.
Only winners of those subsequent semifinal matches — Scheduled for March 30 — will represent Concacaf in the 16-team Olympic tournament in July and August.
Group play of Concacaf's Olympic tournament begins before the March window opens. The senior US team will play friendlies at the Netherlands on March 26 and at Wales on March 30.