SANDY, Utah/CHICAGO (Friday, Sept. 18, 2015) – U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team Head Coach Andi Herzog has named the 20-man roster that will compete in the 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, which will be played across the United States from Oct. 1-13. Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil is among eight MLS players named to the squad that will look to clinch a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. His inclusion gives Gil the chance to play in his home stadium at Rio Tinto Stadium for the tournament semifinal and final rounds, if the U.S. advances that far.
The U.S. was drawn into Group A and opens with a pair of games at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, against Canada on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. CT and Cuba on Oct. 3 at 4 p.m. CT. The U-23’s will conclude group play at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on Oct. 6 against Panama at 7:30 p.m. MT. The semifinal and final rounds will be at Rio Tinto Stadium on Oct. 10 and Oct. 13, respectively.
“With every age group, it doesn’t matter if it’s the U-17, U-20, or with us and the Olympic team, you always want to compete at the highest level with the best teams in the world,” Herzog said in a release from U.S. Soccer. “The Olympic Games are huge because there are the best teams from the continents and it would be great if we were the best team from CONCACAF and we have a chance to earn our spot with this tournament. For everyone, I think it’s a dream to participate in the Olympic Games and it’s a great opportunity for us. But first we have to do our job and win the first game against Canada, which would make it a little bit easier for us because with a good start you get more and more confidence and it’s easier for the next couple of games.”
Gil leads the U-23 team with four assists in 2015 and captained the team through many of the matches this year, seeing it go 6-4-0 in various competitions. That record includes a 3-0 win over Mexico at the StubHub Center back on April 22. In six seasons with Real Salt Lake, Gil has played 132 matches, 88 of them starts, with 10 goals and nine assists. He will be released to join the start of camp on Sept. 27.
Defending Olympic gold medalists Mexico are joined in Group B by Costa Rica, Haiti and Honduras. The top two teams from each group will advance to the tournament semifinals. Winners of the semifinal games will advance to the finals and clinch spots in the Olympics. The winner of the third-place game will qualify for a one-game playoff against Colombia in the final opportunity for an Olympic spot.
The U.S. enters the tournament having defeated Qatar in its final tune-up. In June, the team finished third at the renowned Toulon Tournament in France, defeating the Netherlands and England.
The U.S. hopes to return to the Olympics for the first time since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where it posted a 1-1-1 record but did not advance past the Group Stage. The USA’s best showing in the Olympics came during the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, when the team defeated Japan in the quarterfinals and finished fourth in the event.
Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Charlie Horton (Leeds; Cleveland Ohio), Ethan Horvath (Molde; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Zack Steffen (Freiburg; Downington, Pa.).
DEFENDERS (5): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur; Westcliff on Sea, England), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls; Clifton, N.J.), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact; Woodbury, Minn.), William Packwood (Unattached; Concord, Mass.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids; Brighton, Colo.)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes; Northville, Mich.), Gboly Ariyibi (Chesterfield; Arlington, Va.), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham; Dallas, Texas), Marc Pelosi (San Jose Earthquakes; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire; Milwaukee, Wis.), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; Gahanna, Ohio), Gedion Zelalem (Rangers; Bethesda, Md.).
FORWARDS (4): Alonso Hernandez (C.D. Juarez; El Paso, Texas), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart; Berlin, Germany), Jordan Morris (Stanford; Mercer Island, Wash.), Maki Tall (Scion; Washington, D.C.).