US Olympic football hopefuls gather before qualifying

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Seattle Sounders standout Jordan Morris is among the US national team players who will gather with the under-23 squad starting Saturday in a camp to help the Olympic squad and senior squad prepare for a busy 2021 campaign
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US football hopefuls for the Tokyo Olympics will gather alongside a dozen national team players for a training camp starting Saturday ahead of North American regional qualifying in March.

USA Soccer announced Tuesday the under-23 US lineup will be joined by national team veterans such as Jozy Altidore, Jordan Morris and Paul Arriola for workouts at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, aimed at helping both teams prepare for a busy 2021.

"With Olympic qualifying approaching quickly, this training camp is a great opportunity to prepare ourselves and evaluate some new faces," US under-23 coach Jason Kreis said.

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Olympic qualifying tournament planned for Mexico was wiped out last year by the Covid-19 pandemic and is now set for March, although no details have been settled.

The American men have missed three of the past four Olympic tournaments and were ousted in the group stage at Beijing in 2008.

"While 2020 was a very challenging year, it was impressive to see so many U-23-eligible players make major strides on the field," Kreis said.

"Some of them have been involved with the senior team over the last few months and it's exciting to now get our players and staff back together."

The US national squad will start 2022 World Cup qualifying this year and play for the CONCACAF crown at the Gold Cup.

"For the senior team players, this is an opportunity to continue to develop as a group and build on the foundation of a busy and challenging year," US national team coach Gregg Berhalter said.

"Being alongside our U-23 team gives that group a chance to prepare for Olympic qualifying while further integrating into our culture and game model."

Seven US players are young enough to be eligible for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Several high-profile under-23 US talents such as Chelsea midfielder Christian Pulisic and Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie are absent because their release by club teams for the Olympics is not anticipated.

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