PHOENIX, Ariz. — The United States is heading to the Olympic Men’s Football Tournament in Paris next summer,
We’ve known that fact for a little over a year. But now with just months separating the United States’ men from their first Olympic appearance since 2008, preparations have officially begun. The U-23s are currently gathered in Arizona for a training camp that includes two matches at USL Championship club Phoenix Rising’s stadium. The first of those matches was played on Wednesday evening, with the U.S. collecting a 2-1 win over Mexico.
“Today was step one of building towards the Olympic games,” U.S. U-23 coach Marko Mitrovic said after the match.
Now, as a reminder, men’s soccer at the Olympics is a U-23 competition that allows three overage players. For the 2024 Olympics, only players born on or after January 1, 2001 fit that description.
With the Copa America scheduled just before the Olympics next summer, the United States’ top U-23s — think Folarin Balogun, Gio Reyna, Yunus Musah, etc — are likely to play against South America’s best and not at the Olympics. Still, Paris will serve as a useful opportunity to get others tournament experience. It should also provide valuable data for Gregg Berhalter as he builds out his squad for the 2026 World Cup.
Even with the Baloguns and Reynas of the world off with the senior team, Mitrovic had plenty of talented young players to choose from on Wednesday against Mexico.
There was no broadcast or stream for the first of these two U-23 matches, though Tuesday’s game against Japan will be streamed per U.S. Soccer. But not to worry, dear reader. Backheeled was in attendance for the Olympic preparation on Wednesday, and we’re bringing you some news, notes, and observations from the match.
Here’s what we learned.